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Braving The Unacceptable

With Featured Guest

Dana Heino

Impact • Believe • Support

Top Takeaways From This Episode

  • Advocate for what you and your family needs at all times.
  • There are always ways to include loved ones that have passed into your family celebrations and rituals. 
  • There is a silver lining in everything, even in the absolute darkest moments.
  • Faith can sometimes be the thing that saves us.

The Hardest Year 

When Dana’s two-year-old daughter Avery grew sick, doctor after doctor said her daughter just had a simple virus or a cold. They dismissed her because Avery had a genetic developmental disability, and they blamed her sickness on that. Finally, after advocating at the hospital and refusing discharge, Avery finally received a CAT scan. To everyone's devastation, they discovered a mass in her brain. Avery immediately got rushed to a different hospital to begin a day-long surgery to save her life. 

Due to her genetic disorder, Avery wasn’t able to withstand all the chemo that she needed to save her life. Dana recalls the terrible gut wrench as the doctor told her that her daughter was dying.

Avery’s Footprint

Dana remembers Avery as being one of the strongest, most joyful children. As an infant, Avery was always smiling and happy, a very easy-going child. She made an “incredible impact” on everyone surrounding her.

She recently took her other son into the ER for a fever, and a nurse, six years later, actually remembered her and Avery. Dana also includes that in Avery’s honor, she donates to the Ronald Mcdonald House frequently, as that is where she stayed while Avery was getting treatment.

Life After

After Avery passed, Dana and her husband decided to have more children. During her next pregnancy, she held her breath at every doctor’s appointment, waiting for the ball to drop. Up until her new daughter, Eva turned two years old, she remained cautious.

Eva feels connected to Avery despite never having met her. In fact, Eva is currently experiencing tremendous loss with the knowledge that she will never get to meet her older sister. It’s a topic the family discusses often in hopes to provide comfort for all.

Dana and her husband, Mike, actually tell their youngest children that Avery hand-picked them to be part of their family, something that gives you both chills and tears. 

Faith to Survive

There was a certain faith that Dana found in this situation. She has to believe that there is a bigger picture, a reason larger than herself, that her god wanted her daughter back so young. “I have to believe that, or else I wouldn’t be able to go on.

Accepting the unacceptable was one of the hardest things Dana had to do. Coming to terms with losing her daughter so young was difficult beyond belief, but everyday Dana learns how to cope and share Avery’s story.

Giving is Good

Dana’s charity of choice is StillBrave, an organization that provides non-medical support to children with cancer and their families. They do things like giveaway comfort and care backpacks to children going through chemotherapy, run summer camps for siblings of children with cancer, and more. Dana cites this particular organization as helping her immensely in her healing.

Learn more about StillBrave in Tom Mitchell’s episode.

"I had to believe that there was a bigger picture, a reason I couldn't yet understand. I have to believe that, or else I wouldn’t be able to go on."

- Dana Heino

Meet your Host, <em style="color:teal">Heather Vickery<em>

Meet your Host, Heather Vickery

Heather Vickery is an award-winning business owner and global leader with over 20 years as an entrepreneur. She leverages her entrepreneurial skills and expertise to coach individuals towards greater personal and professional fulfillment by helping them leverage their fear into intentional bravery. Heather says “When we choose bravely, on purpose, we choose bigger, have bigger successes and it’s contagious” A celebrated public speaker, Heather inspires audiences and empowers attendees with the tools they need to live bold and successful lives through creating balance, time management, mindfulness, as well as countless systems, strategies, and boundaries. She’s the author of Gratitude Journal: Shift Your Focus and Grow Grateful: A Gratitude Journal for Kids and Families. Heather is also the host and executive producer of The Brave Files Podcast.

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