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Jessica Herbert learned that she had a rare and incurable form of brain cancer when she was halfway through her pregnancy with her third daughter, leaving her future uncertain. So that she and her husband, Eric, could spend her remaining days making happy memories with their daughters, Harlow, 5, and Harper, 3, family members started a You Caring fundraising site, setting a goal of $30,000 to allow the Herbert family to travel and spend quality time together.
The goal was quickly reached, and Eric, Jessica, and their daughters took trips to Disneyland and the beach before the family welcomed their new baby, Hazel, in July. Here, the Springville, Utah, couple shares updates on Jessica’s condition, the details on their newest daughter, and the lessons they learned through the life-changing news of Jessica’s cancer diagnosis as part of “2015 Voices,” a special series of essays and interviews with newsmakers behind some of TODAY's biggest moments of the year.
On Jessica’s health, life since going viral, and the new baby
Jessica Herbert: We’ve had an exciting few months since the last article was written. Our baby, Hazel Scott, was born happy and healthy in July. Hazel is such a calm, happy baby and is definitely a much-needed blessing in our family.
My health is good. We’ve had a few issues with my platelet counts dropping while I was doing my radiation and chemotherapy treatments — but, as of now, I’m finished with radiation and still have a few months of chemo ahead of me to continue to try to shrink the tumor.
Eric Herbert: It was difficult to take it all in at first and deal with what was happening, but we believe that even though we do not understand why things happen, there is a reason for everything. We have taken this opportunity for our family to grow closer — and we do not take anything for granted. Jessica has always had a positive attitude and shown true strength. Her health has been getting better and better since she started treatment — she is an amazing woman and makes it all look easy.
On meeting their $30,000 fundraising goal and their plans for the money
JH: We are so grateful and completely blown away at how generous and caring out friends, family and even perfect strangers are. We are using the money to help us cover the medical bills that have accumulated and to take our girls to Europe this spring. I can’t wait to tell them about the trip on Christmas — they will be over the moon. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to be able to experience going to Europe with my little family. It really is a dream come true that we would never be able to do without the You Caring fundraiser.
EH: It was amazing to see how people truly care. We had a ton of people contact us, offering help and advice. The amazing part was that the vast majority of the donors were people that we have never met and who know nothing about us other than what was on the You Caring site. It helps you realize that the world is still a great place and there are still generous, caring people out there.
On the lessons learned over the past year
EH: We have learned that no matter what life throws at you, a positive attitude will get you through anything. There are blessings hidden in any situation, you just have to look for them and focus on them.
We have become a much stronger family. Watching my wife go through this has shown our girls how strong of a woman she truly is. She is an amazing example of what a mother and wife should be — and whenever we spend time together as a family, it seems to mean more having gone through this.
JH: This past year has been a whirlwind for our family and friends, and we’ve definitely learned a lot and grown together. I have learned to really appreciate time with loved ones and to make sure that I don’t take anything for granted. We are not promised tomorrow, so I make sure to make each moment count.
The best part of this experience for us has been seeing how giving and caring people can be. With all of the negativity going on in the world, it’s nice to see how invested and concerned people can be. We are really lucky to have experienced such kindness firsthand.
I wish that I could personally thank all of the supporters who have allowed us to spend time with our family and go on trips together — it really is a dream come true.
On advice for others facing similar news
EH: I would tell others who receive bad news and feel alone that they are not alone. This whole situation has shown us that there is always someone there for you, willing to help. The important thing is to ask for help and accept it — which can be difficult for many people.
We learned that accepting the help of others is life changing — not only for you, but also for them.
JH: It’s so important to remember to stay positive. It’s important for your healing and recovery, and it’s important to those around you. Things happen for a reason, so try to make the best of it. For me, I figure if my story helps one person, it was worth it.
—As told to TODAY.com's Terri Peters