Ahwatukee resident Heather Gillis recently published her first book titled “Waiting for Heaven: Finding Beauty in the Pain and the Struggle,” a memoir depicting the struggle of losing a family member.
Three years ago, Gillis and her husband gave birth to their son, and doctors gave them news they weren’t expecting.
Their son was born with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys.
They were unaware that they had the gene for polycystic kidney disease, and doctors explained to the couple that there was a 25 percent chance each time they gave birth their child could contract the disease.
Unfortunately Gillis’ son died of the disease; he was only 13 days old.
Through the pain of losing her son, Gillis decided to use writing as a form of healing.
“There’s different ways people heal, and that was why I wrote the book. I was writing in the beginning to heal, and it kind of turned into a book,” Gillis said.
Completing “Waiting for Heaven” was an ongoing process, Gillis said.
“It talks about our journey from when he was born, to being diagnosed, to going through with him being in the hospital,” Gillis said. “The second half of the book is our journey through when he passed away.”
Gillis said that she wanted to make sure that her son’s life wasn’t for nothing, and wanted to raise money to find a cure for polycystic kidney disease.
Since the passing of their son, Gillis and her family have become activists to find a cure for polycystic kidney; raising more than $50,000 throughout the past three years.
Gillis also used running as a form of healing, and last year she was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
“I was actually at the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. I was actually a block away,” she said.
Gillis and her husband are also active volunteers at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and she will participate in the New York City Marathon in efforts to spread more awareness about polycystic kidney disease.
“You pour your pain into something positive, and that is something very healing,” she said. “We are using this for positive things. I definitely feel like his life was for a purpose and wasn’t for nothing.”
For more information about “Waiting for Heaven: Finding Beauty in the Pain and the Struggle,” visit www.bowenshope.com.
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