THE DON'T WAIT® STORY
At eight years old, I remember being a curious
kid with a lot of questions about my faith, my life and
the world. That’s the age I started getting the answers
to my many questions. I got my first typewriter (a plastic
one) and met my late husband, Wesley, the same year.
Both changed my life forever.
I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer.
I started out wanting to write books, then greeting cards
and eventually screenplays—good ones, like the kind that
makes us sit in our movie theater seat as the credits roll because we
are still processing what we just saw, heard and experienced.
While in high school, just weeks before graduation, I wrote
a letter to the president of Hallmark asking him what it would
take to work for the company after college. He kindly replied with a
detailed letter about the range of skills and education Hallmark
employees possessed and told me to get in touch once I had my English degree. I still have that letter in my scrapbook today.
While in college (my major now changed from English to journalism with a minor in creative writing), I wrote to Ron Howard asking him the same questions about the film industry, but that letter got "returned to sender" because I didn't have his correct address. I would try a few more addresses, but I never reached him. (Opie is a hard man to find.)
Wesley and I married when I was 22. I got cancer at 24.
I survived and our son was born three years later.
My first book got published soon after the birth of our son,
and I felt grateful to be living the exact life I had dreamed
about and we had worked toward. We were a happy,
solid family, and I looked forward to our future.
We could not have known that cancer would be
replaced with Wesley’s rare lung disease, and he
would soon die after receiving a double lung
transplant. He was only 35. I was 32. Our son was just
five years old.
None of it would be easy. Much of it would seem impossible.
But as Hunter and I moved forward, and I started writing our story,
I could clearly see that ours is just one story, and if I could share our experience to help others through their own difficult plight, then good could come from what had happened to our family and Wesley’s life and death could serve an even greater purpose.
While writing Big Shoes, the idea for The DON’T WAIT Project® came to me at 5:30 a.m. just weeks before I finished the book. I had been thinking about a way to help people to not wait to do the important things in life that bring joy, satisfaction and worth to each of us. I wanted it to be wide open, with no limitations. I didn’t want it to just be about health, business, family, faith or any other one thing. It could be anything.
So far, the stories we are receiving from people who support the Project and
are willing to tell of their own experiences have been more than amazing. The
stories are life changing. Sometimes the reality becomes bigger than what we
can dream for ourselves. That is my hope for the Project: the ripple effect will
impact people in ways that are hard to imagine. Like starting out wanting to be
a writer the same year I met Wesley, I could not have known it would lead me
to write our story in all its joy and sadness. The same is true for the Project and
Almost 13 years after Wesley's death, I am now stronger, happier and more capable
of sharing what can be gained when one is willing to learn from the unimaginable.
LISA BRADSHAW is a mother, cancer survivor, author, motivational speaker
and founder of The DON’T WAIT Project®. Bradshaw is a contributing writer for
Good Catch Publishing, Positive Impact Magazine and Chicken Soup for the
Soul: Power Moms. Bradshaw has been a guest on national television and
radio, including Oprah Radio and The Rachael Ray Show, and her designs and
story have been featured in numerous magazines, including Oprah.com,
New York Daily News, InStyle,Parents and Better Homes & Gardens.
Bradshaw is a sought after writer and speaker on topics ranging from
motherhood to patient advocacy and entrepreneurship to organ donor registry.
Bradshaw hosted her own radio show, The Life with Lisa Show, for nearly five
years when resigning to concentrate more fully on the DWP and helping tell the
stories of others.