If you use any social media or watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show or YouTube videos, it’s a pretty sure bet that you are one of the over 10 million people who has watched Jennifer LaFace dance! Surprisingly, her moves were only intended to put a smile on one special person’s face.
“Dance was a big part of our lives,” LaFace said. “When Colleen and I were growing up, we loved to dance. We could not afford lessons so we had our own ‘class.’ We would make up dances and pretended we were dancing for an audience.”
Even as an adult, “Colleen was known to bust out in dance no matter where she was or who was around. She didn’t care!” So when LaFace’s sister had chemo appointments—she was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometrioid ovarian cancer in July of 2014—LaFace would dance for her on video and upload it to YouTube to share joy through the difficult times.
“I sent my first video to my sister before she went into surgery. She told her husband ‘This is how we are going to deal with this. WE ARE GOING TO DANCE OUR WAY THROUGH IT!’ Who doesn’t love a dance party? We danced our way through her cancer journey.
The most viewed dance for her sister was to the song “Teach Me How to Dougie.”
When LaFace first went viral, she said she “went through all the emotions. And I instantly thought of my kids, thinking they would be embarrassed by it. I cried, laughed, then just embraced it. I would have done anything to make my sister smile during such a difficult time.”
LaFace explained what made her sister so special. “She had the lovely gift of making strangers feel like they were her long lost friend after chatting with them for only a few minutes! She loved learning and was a huge advocate for people going back to school. She had a beautiful smile and the brightest eyes. Whatever she put her mind to, she learned it and mastered it!” She loved a good book, wine, and being with her friends and family.
Colleen was 46 years young when she passed. She was one of a kind. LaFace looked up to her all her life. “I still do a little shimmy or full-blown dance every day for my sister. It makes me feel close to her and at ease with myself!”
LaFace recently launched her own non-profit charity, aptly named “I Carry My Sister’s Heart.” Her foundation will support families that are dealing with cancer because it affects the whole family. When parents are sick, the children sometimes feel lost, alone, and sad. Parents feel the stress of having a sick child in a profoundly deep way. I Carry My Sister’s Heart will support both parents and children to lift their spirits so they don’t feel so alone.
In August, LaFace is doing a mission trip to Honduras to support the medical staff and cancer patients. Her goal is to dance with the children! She knows it will be life changing and is grateful for this opportunity.
I inquired about what caregivers should do to help loved ones with health issues. LaFace responded, “Be supportive and understanding, and most of all, just be there for them! Learn everything about the illness they have. Realize that sometimes they need a rest from their work to refresh themselves. Kindness goes a long way. I will never forget the support the hospice nurses showed our family in the last few days we had with my sister. I am grateful for their honesty and hugs.”
For other women with serious health issues, she wants them to “be proactive. This is your body, and you need to do what’s best for you. You are beautiful, and you are not alone! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, let people in to support you–that is a gift to them. Get up, and do a little dance!”