As you visit these pages and learn more about The DON'T WAIT Project®, Big Shoes and my story, know that I'm grateful you're here, and I hope you find what speaks to your heart. It's always my hope that my family's story will speak to your heart and help create a space of empathy for others and gratitude for life and its lessons.
I received my first typewriter as a Christmas gift from my parents when I was eight years old. I'd recently watched the movie Rocky, and inspired by the story and Sylvester Stallone's determination as its storyteller, I set a goal of becoming a writer and worked diligently at honing my craft.
I met Wesley the same year, and something told me he would become important to my life. We married when I was 22, I was diagnosed with cancer at 24, and we had our son two years after cancer despite the risk of infertility from the treatments that helped save my life. And even more than the reason I survived, our son is the reason I was born. The same body that had created something as horrible as cancer, had healed and now created a human life. This discovery helped heal me. And even more than the reason I survived, our son is the reason I was born.
The week before our son's fourth birthday, on an ordinary Saturday morning, Wesley cleaned out an old cabinet in our garage, and inside, there was mold, droppings and a bag of fertilizer that was soaking wet but should've been dry. He immediately complained of shortness of breath, which led to a hospital stay a month later and eight more that year. Exactly one year to the day of him cleaning out that cabinet, he received a double-lung transplant.
When Wesley died six weeks after his transplant, at the age of 35, I didn't know who I was without him. I didn't know how to navigate my life as a widowed single mother. But I did know one thing for sure: there had to be a really big reason for Wesley leaving the planet, and it was my job as our son's mother to help bring to fruition whatever greatness could come to our lives, not in spite of losing Wesley but because of losing him.
Over the past 10 years, I've interviewed more than 1,000 people, and I've discovered that our values help determine our priorities and our priorities help tell our story. I call these DON'T WAIT stories, the nouns in life: the people, places, things and ideas that we give up on along the way sometimes⏤for whatever reason. We get too tired, too busy, too sad or even too comfortable. The DON'T WAIT Project® is a reminder to live the nouns, no matter the obstacles.
Had I not learned about effective patient communication, coupled with what I've termed as Empathetic Healthcare Practices™, I wouldn't have known how to intervene and help change the outcome of my mother's uncertain fate when she was misdiagnosed with a fatal illness or teach our dad how to lead her care in the months ahead as she faced setbacks along her complicated path to a full recovery.
I couldn't have known that the medical events in my life would lead to a career as an author, inspirational speaker and a patient advocate educator. My only professional goal after becoming a widowed single mother was creating opportunities that enabled me to be home by 3 o'clock everyday when our son got home from school.
It's true that much of what I've experienced has been painful and tragic, but I've also experienced joy and fulfillment. I've raised a wonderful son who is now a grown man finishing his senior year of college.
I've got some cool stories about a pillow company I started from my dining room table that led to a sweet deal on the hit tv show Friends and now the song I co-wrote with David Santos called This Beautiful Life.
I haven't built a career based on hardship, I've built a life based on the lessons these hardships have taught me.
I believe that hardships are opportunities for crossroads, not impasses. And I have always been willing to lend my story if it helps someone else better tell their own.
Life with Lisa Bradshaw began as a radio show in 2008. In 2011, Lisa released her second book, Big Shoes: A Young Widowed Mother’s Memoir, and founded The DON’T WAIT Project®⏤a 501c3 non profit organization committed to raising community awareness about how positive life choices can impact the health and welfare of individuals, organizations and communities.
Lisa is a mother, widow, 25-year cancer survivor, author, TEDx speaker and songwriter. Lisa has built a career as a storyteller by seeking the balance between what she's lost throughout the medical crises in her family and what can be gained from the lessons learned⏤before, during and after these experiences.
Lisa has received rave reviews for her keynotes: The Place of Peace: How Surviving Cancer and Navigating My Husband’s Death Helped Save My Mother’s Life; My Red Plastic Typewriter and the Lessons It's Taught Me About Life (and Business); and Living the Nouns in Life: What’s Your DON’T WAIT Story?
Lisa hosts a television talk show and travels the country interviewing people who are living their own DON’T WAIT story. She also produces webinars, trainings and breakout sessions on what she has termed as Empathetic Healthcare Practices™. Her work as a patient advocate educator is endorsed by leading physicians throughout the country.
Lisa has been a guest on national television and radio, and her story has been featured in multiple print media outlets and online, including Oprah.com, The Rachael Ray Show, Oprah Radio, InStyle, Parents, Positive Impact Magazine, The Good Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms and more.
By Lisa Bradshaw
Big Shoes: A Young Widowed Mother's Memoir is the compelling story of Lisa Bradshaw and her husband, Wesley, who met as children and were married nearly 11 years. Big Shoes is a raw and candid look at the breaking hearts of two people in love, fighting for the life they have built with their young son. Bradshaw and her husband struggle as they courageously navigate his mysterious illness and attempt to prepare her and their son for a life without Wesley.
Big Shoes is not just a story of death and loss, it is about prevailing and finding true happiness, not in spite of what happens to us but because of what happens to us.
To order your copy or listen to the prologue for FREE, click below.