Lessons From Cancer: The Happy Video and Mom’s Reaction

Since Mom’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis on September 27, 2014 life has been an unexpected, unpredictable roller coaster of emotions. Simply put, my mom is amazing, the best in the world hands down. Every day she finds reasons to smile, to challenge herself, to push through the pain, and remind us every day just how wonderful life can be even in the tough times. That is why I want to share the story of showing my mom the Happy video for the first time, to really show everyone just how much this meant to my mom and my whole family. This is the story…. Almost two months prior to this night I had gotten the idea to make my mom her own personal “Happy” video. She loves the song “Happy by Pharrell (made popular by Despicable Me 2) and throughout her battle with cancer it has been a constant bright light for her. I thought about how I could make this song even more special for her, then got on Facebook on a Saturday morning and started reaching out.

Over the next few weeks I reached out to friends all over the world asking them to film themselves dancing, singing, and lip syncing to the song so I could make mom her very own compilation. A video that she could use anytime she was feeling down to be reminded of all the people all over the world (some she has never met) who are supporting her, praying for her, and sending her love every day.

40 clips, almost 25 minutes of video, 4 different countries, a bunch of states across the US, and countless laughs later I finally had all the footage. Childhood friends, coworkers, family, and even just acquaintances came together to put on an incredible show for my mom. Using my recently acquired video editing skills, I put it all together and the video you see above is the result.

Finally, the big night came. I had let my dad in on the secret while I was back in New Jersey visiting the family. I felt that he could use a boost and knowing this was coming would keep him smiling every day. My brother was going to be back home that Thursday so timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I told mom I wanted to Skype that night (at this point she was still had no idea what was going on). So I got home, jumped on my computer, and called home.

There sat my mom, my brother, and my dad all on our couch in the living room. Evan and Dad were both anxiously awaiting the big reveal and I said excitedly to mom, “So Mom, are you wondering what this is all about?” Dad’s voice slightly concerned came through my speakers, “Bri, mom is really tired today so she can’t really answer.”

I knew Thursdays are Mom’s chemo days so normally she doesn’t feel great after her treatment but this day was particularly rough. If all goes according to plan, my mom should go to the hospital early in the morning on Thursday, receive IV chemo for 5 hours, then have a pump attached to her port which she slings over her arm like a purse which administers chemotherapy for another 40 hours. Unfortunately this is not what happened, my mom spent 10 hours at the hospital on this particular Thursday.

2 weeks prior when I was there with her, the treatment took over 7 hours because she had a reaction to one of the medicines and needed to be kept under observation until her body calmed down. This time, unfortunately the nurses did not have one of the chemotherapy drugs my mom needed so they had to wait 3-4 hours for it to arrive then another hour to administer it. Needless to say, mom was beyond exhausted and when the Skype call started she was barely able to keep her eyes open. But my mom, in her typical fashion, was doing everything she could to keep her eyes open and be a part of the conversation but there is nothing my mom loves more than when the whole family is together.

Dad said, “Bri, why don’t you tell mom the title of your video?” So I looked at mom who was fully reclined on the couch and said, “Helping Mom Fight Cancer With Happy”. Then in that moment, her eyes opened up. My dad clicked play and after just a few seconds, I heard my mom’s voice come through the speakers quietly, “Bernie, can you pass me my glasses.” He handed them over and restarted the video.

My mom had a look of curiosity and maybe a bit of confusion at first. She went from fully reclined, to sitting upright, to closing the foot rest and leaning forward. Her eyes were slowly becoming clearer and more alert until it finally hit her, after just a few seconds of the video she realized what this was all about and then began the tears. My mom smiled, laughed, sang and she even DANCED! My mom, who has had very little reason to dance over the past few months, was swaying, tapping her feet, and waving her arms around as she watched all her supporters breaking it down on-screen. My brother and dad both laughed and smiled and gave mom hugs throughout the video and then it came to an end.

Mom said, “That was a ten tissuer Bri,” as she reached for yet another Kleenex. My dad and brother told me how great it came out and how excited they were to share it. Mom asked, “Can we watch it again?” And I got to watch all their faces as the video played again.

This video did something magical, it gave us a miracle. I watched my mom come back, out of a chemo and narcotics haze, to looking more like herself then she has in months. I saw her glowing smile, her bright warm eyes, and her care-free, no-stress mentality emanating from every inch of her. After Evan left he called me on the phone and said, “You turned all of our day’s around man. Brian, for those five minutes, I don’t think Mom felt any pain.”

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all the wonderful, incredible, amazing people in my life that are willing to do wonderful things like this to help a person in need. You all brought my mom back for me, you all reminded her how much love she has, you ALL were a part of a miracle.

As I told my mom the stories of how I got the videos, the funny clips, the edits and more, I couldn’t contain myself. I said through sobs and tears, “Mom, I wanted you to always have something you could go to, to remind you how much support you have in this.” I continued, “Mom, the reason this happened is because of how much you have impacted so many people’s lives. Even the people you have never met have been impacted by you because I carry your story with me, I tell them about how I have the best mom in the world, and through my stories about you, people are impacted in ways I can’t even describe!” My mom, even in her complete and total exhaustion, thanked me profusely before saying she needed to lie down. She said, “This is a gift for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Yesterday because you got to enjoy making it, today because we all got to share it, and tomorrow for all the times I am going  to watch it and all the people we can share it with.”

I made this video for my mom, but I also made this for anyone who is struggling through a tough time to remind them that there are people all over the world (some who they have never met) supporting them, praying for them, and wishing them nothing but the best in their fight. Please share this with anyone who you think could use a smile, a reminder of all the support they have, or just to feel the love that I feel every time I watch it.

I want this message to reach people all over the world and it is already starting. The first day the video got over 500 views so please, help me share this video to show support for my mom and all the other people out there who need this message. Life is about love and connection, let’s share this video and help everyone feel the love.

Once again, from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED AND WANTED TO BE A PART OF THIS!!! You gave me, my family, and most importantly my mom a miracle that she can go back to whenever she wants and for that I am eternally grateful.

May God bless you all and help you to see all the blessings, magic, and wonder that are around you in your life.

I love you all!


Mom, this one is for you! I love you, I love you, I love you! You are the best and there is no doubt about that!

– Brian

7 thoughts on “Lessons From Cancer: The Happy Video and Mom’s Reaction

  1. Hey Brian, I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s diagnosis. I had the privilege to take care of her when she was a patient at Hackettstown hospital, before her diagnosis. She was so sweet and kind-natured; the best kind of patients to have. She noticed my mount olive sweatshirt that I had on and started talking about you and Evan, and asked if I knew either of you. Her eyes lit up at the mere mention of your names, and I could tell she loved you both so much. I told her I graduated with you, and she starred to tell me all of the wonderful things you’ve done since high school and what you’re up to now. I’m sure your support means the world to her, and I wish her and your family all the best in her recovery.
    -Brielle Greco

    • Hey Brielle, great to hear from you! Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking care of my mom. Knowing the incredible care she has, has been so important for me now that I live so far from home so thank YOU for everything you do! My mom really is the most amazing person and has that affect on everyone she comes in contact with, she is an incredible example for me in patience, kindness, and never letting your own difficulties affect your relationships with others. I hope things are going wonderfully for you and that every day brings your wildest dreams closer to being a reality! Thank you again for this message, you made me tear up and this support means everything to my mom, my family, and me.

      Thanks again Brielle and I hope you are doing amazing!

      – Brian

  2. Dearest Brian – your dad shared your video with me a couple of weeks ago when your mom and I were in our infamous “meeting place” – the infusion center! I don’t know if I teared first or smiled or both – all I could do was say Awe… I know your father must have wondered if I had any other words in my vocabulary but it’s all I could say because I was so touched and yet having the pleasure of meeting you – I was not at all surprised by your endearing gesture for your mother. What a loving and thoughtful gift. Pharrell has captured the world with this feel-good song and even he gets emotional to see the response around the globe. Your editing skills are great – next career goal: movies? :) I missed your mom today I bought her a small gift of hope but was disappointed and concerned when I did not see her. Please give her my love and tell her I am praying for her comfort, peace and healing grace. Be well Brian and continue your journey to bring joy in the lives of people – you do it so graciously. Btw…today was my last chemo treatment – next week radiation! I’m almost through it! Take, Gia

    • Hey Gia! So great to hear from you :)

      Just so you know mom is doing well the doctors just had her take a week off from treatment because her body needed a break. I passed on your message and my mom was so happy to hear from you!

      CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR LAST TREATMENT! That is such exciting news and I can’t wait I hear from you when they pronounce you cancer free!

      Thank you for always providing us with a smile whenever we see you and I hope to be able to see you again soon, preferably outside of a hospital!

      I’ll be praying for you Gia, have a wonderful day!


      • My heart is filled with joy on your post and update regarding your mom’s progress. God is faithful and no matter what are human struggle – His Grace is Sufficient! I can’t tell you how often I think of your mom and pray that she is gaining strength every day. I continue to lift you all in prayer – because I know, prayer, still works!!

      • My heart is filled with joy on your post and update regarding your mom’s progress. God is faithful and no matter what our human struggle – His Grace is Sufficient! I can’t tell you how often I think of your mom and pray that she is gaining strength every day. I continue to lift you all in prayer – because I know, prayer, still works!!

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