As you visit these pages and learn more about my story, know that I'm grateful you're here. 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'm often amazed by how one thing leads to the next, even if we can't see it at the time. 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.
It was also the age when I met Wesley. He was wearing burnt orange corduroy paints and a striped shirt, and he was lying on top of a pile of boys playing football in my front yard. Something told me he would become important to my life from the first moment I saw him.
I couldn't have known that we would marry 14 years later, that Wesley would see me through cancer at 24, or that we would have our healthy baby boy two years after cancer despite the risk of infertility from the treatments that helped save my life. Having him was the greatest joy of our lives. 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 started getting sick, and for the next year, he endured a complicated and critical illness, requiring multiple hospital stays, and eventually, 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.
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.
It's why I founded The DON'T WAIT Project® in 2011. It's become a storytelling vehicle for people throughout the country who are living DON'T WAIT lives, no matter the obstacles, and for students who use their voice in the DON'T WAIT to UnMake a Bully™ Program. I'm honored to help share their stories of gratitude and perseverance.
It's also why I developed the Take Good Care community app and the Empathetic Healthcare Practices™ Course. It's my effort to help you build a team of trusted providers; develop a succinct, informed voice in your healthcare, and avoid the learn-as-you-go education in healthcare that I've experienced throughout my family's medical crises.
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 + caregiver educator.
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.
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 recently graduated college and is thriving. 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 the song I co-wrote with Nashville talent David Santos called This Beautiful Life.
I've also written two books, so far, that have been a help to the people who've dedicate their time, attention, and empathy to reading my family's story.
My only professional goal after becoming a widowed, single mother was creating opportunities that helped me feed my kid and feed my soul and be home by 3 o'clock everyday when our son got home from school.
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 live their own.
Lisa Bradshaw is a 26-year cancer survivor, a caregiver, a widow, and has been a patient and caregiver educator for more than a decade. She has hosted her own radio and television shows; given keynotes about the patient, caregiver, and provider relationship; and shared her tragic and triumphant story on a TEDx stage.
Lisa is the host of the Take Good Care Podcast and the Life with Lisa Bradshaw television show, developer of the Take Good Care community app, creator of the Empathetic Healthcare Practices™ Course, and founder of The DON'T WAIT Project®.
Life with Lisa Bradshaw began as a radio show in 2008 and is now a television talk show on the NCW Life Channel. 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 has received rave reviews for her keynotes: How Surviving Cancer and Navigating My Husband’s Illness and Death Helped Save My Mother’s Life and My Red Plastic Typewriter and the Lessons It's Taught Me About Living a DON'T WAIT Life.
She 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.
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.
"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 live their own." ⏤Lisa Bradshaw
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.