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When Shelly and Chad’s little girl, Maddie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 9 years old, their regular lives with their five children were put on hold. Getting Maddie through surgery became their number one priority, and their family, friends, and neighborhood rallied together to help their family through it.

But one person in particular, Shelly’s cousin, embodied what it truly means to show up during difficult moments in small but meaningful ways. It all started when she posted a silly picture of herself wearing a mustache, which was sure to make Maddie giggle, with the hashtag #MustachesforMaddie. And while she couldn’t have predicted how viral this movement would go, her small act of kindness is the perfect example of how simple it can be to show up for someone.

As the hashtag gained traction, an outpouring of love happened from hundreds of people who sent funny little pictures for Maddie to enjoy. From putting mustaches on babies, cars, pets, stuffed animals, entire offices worth of doctors, classrooms, and more, even news stations picked up the story (including CNN and the Hallmark Channel).

Shelly and Chad transformed Mustaches for Maddie into an award-winning book. They share great insights on handling the pressure parents feel during this time, managing the day-to-day, asking for (and accepting) help from others, and dealing with the uncertainties of a difficult diagnosis. And today, they’re sharing their story to inspire anyone going through a difficult journey.

This episode is fun, inspiring, and uplifting, and I hope it serves as a great reminder to keep spirits up and celebrate every little win along the way. As they say, laughter really is the best medicine.

Key Takeaways with Chad Morris & Shelly Brown

  • The pressure on parents to care for a sick child, alongside other responsibilities.
  • Dealing with the uncertainty of a difficult diagnosis.
  • Managing the impact that a difficult medical journey has on siblings with feelings of jealousy, frustration, sadness, and anxiety.
  • When to ask for help, and how to accept help from your community.
  • The little ways anyone can show up and support those in need.
  • How a small act of kindness can go a very long way.
  • Keeping the spirits up, and looking out for moments of joy.

Chad Morris & Shelly Brown Tweetables

  • “As parents, we feel like we come with a toolbox and we’re supposed to fix and be all the things, and manage all the emotions. And the reality is we can’t, there are limits and we are human. When we get to that realization, it makes it a little easier.” – Jamie Freedlund
  • “My cousin couldn’t fix the problem; she’s not a brain surgeon. So she just came and did something. Her hashtag, #MustachesForMaddie, got a lot of traction and sharing. People sent many pictures wearing silly mustaches, news stations picked it up, and people all over the world shared pictures to try to cheer up our 9-year-old. It was impressive how one person trying to do something could turn into something this powerful.” – Shelly Brown
  • “Mentally it is hard because your brain wants to go down the worst-case scenario. You just have to be fair with yourself and your kid; some of these are possibilities. But there are also a lot of really good possibilities. There are great things that can happen.” – Chad Morris


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