Ever since high school, Monica Porter dreamed about studying in the United States. Following graduation, that dream came true.
She left her hometown of Trieste, Italy, to pursue higher education at Hawaii Pacific University, leading to a successful career in business management and operations.
Monica’s career brought her to many cities around the world, including London and São Paulo, Brazil, where she met her husband, Daniel. Monica eventually left her job in London to follow Daniel to the United States for a new opportunity, where they raised their three children; Jonathan, Leonardo, and Carlotta.
Shortly after settling in and excited about their new future, Monica’s family in Italy would experience deep suffering that she could have never anticipated.
Remembering the Past
Monica’s mother, Claudia, was diagnosed with cancer. “We knew from the beginning it was very serious,” she says. “It was downhill for the whole family. It was extremely tough on my father, Ferruccio. My brother, Luca, was unstable and started to have psychotic events.”
“In about four years, they all passed away,” Monica shares. “My mom passed away from cancer. My dad had a massive stroke, went through rehabilitation, but then passed away. My brother experienced the death of my father. Luca was with him for lunch when he had a heart attack.”
Worried about her brother, Monica stayed with Luca in Italy for as long as she could before returning to the United States to her husband and young children. “I thought Luca was fine. He was getting married; he was financially stable — he had everything somebody might dream of.” Monica continues, “One day, I received a phone call from his fiancée that he committed suicide.”
Looking Forward with Hope
As painful as it is for Monica to reflect on the past, she believes it is important to raise awareness for behavioral health. “It’s a very delicate side of my life, but I want to spread the message that mental health is real. It should be taken very seriously, equally to any physical issue that a person might have. We should be proactive in helping people that are going through unstable times, instead of being there when it’s too late.”
The loss of her parents and brother led the Porters to make estate planning a priority. “You want to make sure that when you pass away, everything is very clear on who gets what.”
They immediately focused on two Vail Health service areas for their planned gifts — Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (EVBH) and the Harold W. & Mary Louise Shaw Cancer Center. Giving back gives her peace of mind knowing they are helping others in need — in cancer and mental health — two areas that have touched her profoundly.
A Call for Support
In sharing her story, Monica hopes that it will inspire others to learn more about behavioral health and understand that it could happen to anyone. “Just because you don’t see a person suffering doesn’t mean they’re not suffering,” she says.
Monica still has her moments. “Holidays are pretty hard. I’ve had therapy sessions to try to work through my pain.” Most days, she lives with beautiful memories of her loved ones while enjoying life with her own family in the Vail Valley, where they have lived for 13 years.
Since COVID-19’s onset, the Porters have picked up shooting targets in their yard and making pizzas in their new outdoor wood-fired oven. “We cook anything and everything outside as a family,” Monica boasts. After 20 years, they also enjoy playing golf again, in addition to skiing and hiking.
“It’s hard to walk through difficult moments in your life, but if I know that what I’m doing is going to give somebody else hope, I would do it again.”