Wednesday, December 6, 2017



I don't know where to start. How do I sum up our lives together in one short blog post?

Photo credit: Dirty Paw Photography

You left us Friday. Its been terrible and lonely without you. It's so quiet. I do okay when I'm not at home. But I dread coming home. The thought of walking in the door and you're not there guts me. For 12 years you greeted me by standing up every time I walked into a room. And now there's nothing. Sometimes when I'm sitting on the couch I forget that you aren't laying behind me. You always laid near me but once you went deaf you usually laid between me and wherever I could possibly go so I couldn't sneak past you.

I've often told people that I think dogs choose us. Which is why I'm such a huge proponent of adoption. I volunteered at the SPCA in college because I knew I shouldn't have a dog. But one day I asked someone- I don't remember if she was staff or a volunteer- if there were other dogs there besides the ones available for adoption. She brought me in a room and there you were. I can remember your little scared face in the small cage so vividly. I went home and emailed the volunteer coordinator and asked if I could adopt you and he said you were all ready spoken for by the animal control officer that brought you in. I was so heartbroken. The next day he emailed me back and said that he was wrong about the animal control officer and I could bring you home the next day. Friday September 9, 2005.

I don't really believe in soul mates or love at first sight. But I believe in both with you. I remember thinking as I walked you out of the shelter for the first time- what am I doing? I've never even seen him out of a cage before! But it was meant to be. You were mine and I was yours and that was that. I always told people that you were my longest relationship. But I don't know if that word does it justice. Relationships are work. We never worked at our love. It just was. It was strong. It was beautiful. And it is never ending.

Photo credit: Dirty Paw Photography

When you woke me up Sunday morning panting so hard and pacing, I knew that you were trying to tell me that the end is near. We spent a lot of time at the vet Sunday and I was hoping that it wasn't anything too serious. With you- I always feared the worst. But this time it was serious. You had intestinal cancer that probably was spreading and growing larger. You were in pain. I didn't know on Sunday that Friday was going to be your last day. I was still hoping that we had a couple weeks left. But on Tuesday- after our gorgeous photo shoot with Dirty Paw Photography- you told me you were done. I held you and sobbed because although I knew you were telling me the right thing to do I just wasn't ready.
At the vet Sunday

I always thought that when you left us I would be a total disaster who couldn't leave the house for weeks and would just cry all day and night. That hasn't been the case so far. Obviously there are moments when I cry and I miss you every second of the day. But after the vet took you Friday we all were fine. And I was worried that there was something wrong with me. Did I really love you as much as I said I did? Am I just holding in all of these feelings and one day I'll just explode? And then it occurred to me. Maybe you took most of my sadness with you. You always did. You knew me so well. Whenever I was upset you would come over to me and put your head to mine and let my tears fall down your ears. You would lick my face and paw at me until I was distracted and totally focused on you. When you pawed at me as you were falling asleep for the last time- maybe you were telling me that you were taking my pain away.

Photo credit: Dirty Paw Photography

My friend told me that he believes that spirits come back to visit after they die to let you know they're okay. I believe that too. Dublin came to visit me in a dream after he died. Saturday we were driving on 66 and I looked over and there was a rainbow. It hadn't rained at all that day. Just a rainbow out of no where. I yelled ITS BAILEY!! And we all smiled because we knew that meant you had safely made it to the Rainbow Bridge and you would be waiting for us there. I love you for doing that for me.

Some of my favorite Bailey & Mackenzie pictures

I told George the other day that I really miss all the things that used to really annoy me! You had a knack for needing to go out as soon as I sat down to watch tv every night. I miss that we don't have to hid every tiny piece of food and we now have to pick up food when we drop it off the floor. I miss you barking at me every time I was in the kitchen because you were mad I wasn't giving you a treat. And you jumping and barking at me and Mackenzie whenever we would dance around the house. But mostly I just miss YOU.

Photo credit: Dirty Paw Photography

I wasn't looking for you but you found me. I am so grateful that we shared 12 years together. You were there for me for college graduation, buying a house, getting engaged, getting kittens, getting married, having a baby, having a baby who was sick, having a husband who was sick and when I needed you the most- when I had cancer. You went wherever I went and you let me hold you and cry and share all of my fears.

I hope that I did you proud. I hope that you had the best life you could have imagined. You have set the standard very high for our next dog but I know that your spirit will be there. Guiding us to him or her. Friday I read you my favorite poem- I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart). Please know that I will always have a Bailey shaped hole in my heart. And that I will carry a piece of you with me forever. You were a good boy- the BEST boy. And I love you with all of my being. It's hard to believe that it is all over. That you aren't just at your sitters house and you'll come home tomorrow.

I love you Bailey. Be a good boy. I'll see you at the Rainbow Bridge.

Photo credit: Dirty Paw Photography. Quote: Thom Jones

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waiting for our missing piece

5 years ago, in my first public blog I said that I was the luckiest cancer patient alive. Now that I am not a cancer patient anymore (knock on wood) I can say that I'm the luckiest girl alive. We have been so blessed to have such amazing friends and family support us from the time I was diagnosed until now. This surrogacy thing is no joke. It is an emotional, physical and financially tough battle. But from the beginning we have hoped for this baby and we aren't going to stop hoping our dreams come true. 

With all that said- George and I are having 2 (well I guess 3) fundraisers to help us offset some of the costs of IVF/surrogacy. 

The first fundraiser we are doing is a puzzle fundraiser. 

In a puzzle fundraiser family and friends can purchase a puzzle piece from this custom puzzle we created. Each piece is $25- you can purchase as many pieces as you'd like! When you purchase a puzzle piece we will write your name/family's name/anything you want on the back of the puzzle piece. Once the puzzle is put together we will put it in a double sided frame so that we can always see who helped us complete our journey to baby W. Click here to purchase a piece!

On October 7th & 8th we are having a yard sale. 

We are asking for your to dig deep into your closets and donate to us anything that you can no longer use- kids clothes/toys, bikes, electronics, art, furniture, home decor, etc. We will also need volunteers to help us advertise the yard sale, help us price things the night before and work at the yard sale with us. If you can help in anyway please let George or I know!

Here is the link to our fundraising page if you'd like to donate online- 

If you would like to donate on youcaring but would like your name on a puzzle piece just write PUZZLE in the message area or just let us know! 

We have been so lucky to have your support for the last 5 years. Thank you for your continued support! We hope to see you at the yard sale!

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Today marks 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 5 whole years since I heard the words "its invasive ductal carcinoma". It feels like its been 20 years and 1 year at the same time.

This weekend my mom, Mackenzie and I have been staying with family in Long Island and it has been so relaxing. It's so peaceful. We swam in the pool, hung around the house and ate. I've stayed off social media. Last night Sister Jeanne and Sister Mary threw me a cancerversary party! We even had cake and I blew out candles!

Today my mom, Mackenzie and I went to Long Beach. We convinced the teen at the entrance to let us put our feet in the ocean without paying $15 per person (I didn't want to have to use my cancer card!). The ocean is my sanctuary and I was SO happy to see it today. It has been a perfect girls weekend.

This last month has been tough honestly. On top of the fact that I survived 5 years which is a HUGE milestone in the cancer world, I was off my tamoxifen. I didn't realize how much it was really suppressing my hormones until I stopped it (to do another egg retrieval). I've spent a lot of time thinking about what life was like 5 years ago, before the physical, the lump, the mammogram, the ultrasound and the biopsy. Before I knew that breast cancer could be diagnosed in women so young.

And also I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I wasn't sure I would live this long. Some days I really didn't think I would live 5 more years. Its terrifying to think about. I used to just hope I would be able to see Mackenzie go to her first day of kindergarten. That was my goal. Although the survival rate for stage III breast cancer is 72%, someone has to be in the 28%. I've been in the low percent's almost my entire breast cancer journey (remember my first blog- only 10% of women who have biopsies have breast cancer- I was the 10%).

I think I've told most people I've ever talked to about my breast cancer and I know I've written about it before but I really just want to say again that cancer never goes away. You might be in remission but it is never far from your mind and it effects your daily life for YEARS after. At every appointment my oncologist asks me what side effects I still have from chemo and I always tell her that I can't think of the right words. It happens all the time. Last month I said "twice as least" when I meant half. Luckily my husband is used to this by now! And there's also the fear of recurrence or metastasis. Every headache, hip pain, back pain, whatever sends my brain to the worst possible place. Luckily for me those pains have all gone away quickly but you never know. Cancer can come back whenever it wants. And while I'm doing everything I can to keep it away, it can always come back.

There is a poem called "What cancer cannot do" that many people have probably seen that lists things like cripple love, shatter hope. What cancer can do is bring people closer together. I said in my very first blog post that I was the luckiest cancer patient around and I was right. I all ready knew that I had an amazing family and amazing friends but having cancer just magnifies their awesomeness. And cancer brought us new friends which is even better. We are so grateful to everyone who babysat, brought us food, listened to me complain, took my husband out and kept us in their thoughts and prayers.

To my beautiful Mackenzie- sometimes the guilt I feel about having cancer overwhelms me. I know it isn't my fault that I had cancer but it affected your young life so much and I'm so sorry for that. Part of the life I had planned for you has been changed but just know that I will always do whatever I can to be here on this planet for you. Without knowing it you have been my strength and my drive to keep fighting when I wanted to give up. I will fight my entire life so that you never have to go through any of this.

To my husband, my parents and my brother Ryan and sissy Claire- thank you for never leaving my side, for coming to chemo with me, for bringing me dinner and cookies, for endless hours of babysitting, for staying with me in the hospital and to my mom specifically for helping me shower after my mastectomy when I couldn't bare to face myself in the mirror. I never would have made it through all of this without you.

These past 5 years have been so emotional- I've been happy, sad, angry, nervous, exhausted, driven, overwhelmed, surprised, anxious, confident, frustrated, confused, etc., etc. But I've learned a lot about myself and life. And while I never would have chosen to join this club, I wouldn't trade the relationships or self-discovery for anything. None of us are promised a certain amount of time on earth but I'm ready to stop just living my years July 23-July 23 and really start living my years.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Egg Retrieval Update

After 11 straight days of shots- mostly 3-4 A DAY, we finally had our egg retrieval on July 5! Although it felt so high stakes because our last retrieval went so poorly, I was SO calm about the actual retrieval part the entire time. I just knew it was all completely out of our hands. Besides making sure the amount of meds were correct there was nothing else we could do to ensure that we got any eggs.

But the process itself is always VERY stressful. There are days when you have to rearrange your plans and work schedule last minute to make sure you can make it to appointments on time. The fact that Mackenzie just started camp didn't help. Usually we can drop her off at school at 7 but camp didn't start until 8 so that just made everything else more complicated. Thank God I have such an understanding boss! And then add on top of the every other day ultrasounds and blood work the daily shots. There were 2 shots starting on June 24th and then I added in a shot on the 27th. Once any follicle reaches 14mm you start the morning shot so that you don't ovulate. The 2 shots at night were sometimes 3 shots because of the dose of the one shot. It came in a vial of 300 iu but my dose was 225 iu. So the first vial I just did one injection but the next day I would have to use the rest of the first vial (one shot) and then reset another vial and do a second shot. Plus the other medication. And then wake up in the morning to other other injection. It is A LOT. So thankful that my husband give me the injections. I cannot do the injections myself!

We took the trigger shot on July 3. You have to inject it exactly 36 hours before egg retrieval. It has a MUCH larger needle and goes into the muscle, not the stomach like the others.

Our egg retrieval was on July 5. It was a good day to have it because there was NO traffic going to Rockville or coming back. It was a smooth process. They check you in, get your vitals, you meet with the anesthesiologist who starts your iv, and then the doctor who is performing the retrieval. Then when its time you go back you walk back to the OR and talk to the embryologist and you get strapped into this awful table with stirrups (I mean literally strapped in) and you fall asleep. When you wake up you're back in your room. 

I wore my "This is my lucky shirt" tshirt and my "I am lucky" socks to the retrieval!

The good news is- we got EIGHT eggs! My doctor called later that night and said 7 were mature which is AMAZING!! We are so excited with that result! 

We are doing ICSI and assisted hatching to try to get better results and the assisted hatching also because we are going to genetically test our embryos.

Our tradition of going to Krispy Kreme after visiting the Rockville office continues! At least this time we were happy eating the donuts!

July 6th- my nurse called and said that of our 7 mature eggs, 6 had become embryos! I was so excited! I feel so emotional about these little tiny babies! 

Image result for day 1 fertilization report

July 7th my nurse called to say that our 6 embryos were still growing! I was completely shocked by this news! But very excited! She said they wouldn't check on them on days 3 and 4 so she would call Monday.

July 10 my nurse called to say we had 4 day 5 embryos. This was SUCH great news!

Today my nurse called to say that our 4 embryos had been biopsied and frozen! We have FOUR frozen embryos! Honestly- I was really hoping they'd get 3 eggs. That was the big number for me. Obviously we hoped for much more but at the end of the day it takes ONE egg to make a baby. But I just thought if we could have 3 plus our other egg that was frozen maybe we would have 1 or 2 embryos make it to freeze. We have FOUR!! And they are going to thaw our original egg this week and go through the process to make it an embryo so we will see how that goes!

Now a sample of our embryos is being sent to the lab to have PGD testing done. We all ready know from our previous genetic tests that George and I are not carriers for the same diseases. That's great news! However embryos can have a number of abnormalities that would make a pregnancy unsuccessful and that is what we are looking for. We are not looking to do this testing to pick a certain sex. We really just want the best possible chance at a successful pregnancy we would get.

We are really excited that we have 4 little embryos sitting on ice waiting to become babies. After so many ups and downs over the past 5 years this is just such incredible news. I cannot believe we have FOUR embryos!

On another note. Now that I have once again sat in the fertility doctor waiting room for 2 weeks I am overwhelmed with sadness and compassion for the families that have to go through all of this for years. I cannot imagine women having to do all of these injections and medications and appointments month after month after month after month. 2 weeks was exhausting enough for me. And we didn't have add into it trying to get pregnant. Plus we weren't keeping anything a secret. I just can't imagine month after month of trying to get pregnant and not really having support because you "aren't supposed to tell anyone you're trying to get pregnant". There is such a sadness and loneliness you feel when you are going through this. Even if people know. I was getting so depressed having to take the shots everyday and go to the doctor and more blood drawn. Its exhausting. And that doesn't even mention the financial burden that comes with fertility treatments. The fact that my insurance "excludes" fertility treatment from being covered is absurd. Sure having a child isn't a right in life but having coverage to a medical problem should be. This shouldn't be a womens issue. This is a family issue. 1 in 8 couples are effected by infertility. That includes men.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Egg retrieval #2

We have been talking about doing another egg retrieval for years now. It is finally going to happen! It has been a really long process- which was complicated by the fact that I take tamoxifen. I didn't realize I would have to be off of it for so long before the retrieval. They suggested 1-2 months and it has been almost 2 months. We are doing this egg retrieval now so I can start another medication called lupron in the fall. I took lupron during chemo to try to suppress my ovaries. My oncologist wants me to take it now to put me into menopause. I will probably end up having a total hysterectomy in the future.

This whole egg retrieval/surrogacy process has felt like 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Everything is so complicated. I really wish we could just try to get pregnant and see what happens. Adding in another person not only makes everything more complicated but more expensive and more testing and blood work. And a lot more time.

Last week my medications arrived so now I really feel like its going to happen! I'm SO nervous but excited. This time we are going to make embryos and we are having them tested for genetic abnormalities so we have the best chance of having a baby. But with that comes the possibility that none of our eggs (if we get any) will be viable embryos. That is so scary. First we have to get good eggs (we have one frozen all ready), then they have to become embryos- well zygotes I guess, then they have to make it to 5 days, and then they have to all be genetically healthy. That is a lot of if's. I've seen women who get like 40 eggs, 20 are good, 10 make embryos and 1 is genetically viable. But I've seen the flip side of that too. We just have to hope that whatever they get is good quality. It is all out of our hands at this point. 

Hopefully starting next week I will start injections. I mean hopefully so we can get started- not because I love having my husband inject me with medication once or twice a day. And I'm nervous because Mackenzie isn't a baby anymore. Last time we did this she was 2 so she had NO clue what was going on. I'm worried that she will see the medicine or ask what it is for. I guess I should come up with something to tell her before it starts.

We are going to tell Mackenzie everything if we ever get a surrogate pregnant. And probably if we never do. I don't want her to be confused about why we still were talking about it if we knew it was never going to happen. This must be so confusing for her. I wish that I was busy yelling at my 7 year old and 4 year old to stop fighting all the time but instead of getting pregnant in 2012 I got cancer so here we are.

I will blog again when we find out the results of our embryos. But until then I wanted to point out that on the top right is my new Instagram account for this blog. I will be posting mostly breast cancer/surrogacy/egg retrieval stuff on there if you'd like to follow! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Advocacy Day

Yesterday George and I went to Capitol Hill to participate in Resolve's Advocacy Day. I debated about attending for weeks- maybe months. But then the House of Representatives passed that awful healthcare bill and I decided that I would do anything I could to help. 

I felt a little weird about going. I still don't really consider myself infertile. I had cancer and I can no longer even try to get pregnant. But I probably am infertile from chemo. I just don't know for sure. But these issues are important for every woman. Every person in this country knows someone who is infertile. You might not know you know someone- but you definitely do. 1 in 8 couples is affected by infertility. Not just women- men too. And no one talks about it. Because we think we aren't supposed to. But it is SO helpful to so many couples if you share your story. It is the worst feeling to think that you are alone. 

We didn't really know what we were in for with Advocacy Day since it was our first time attending. When we got to the hotel for some training they had breakfast for us and we got started with all the information we needed to know. I knew a little bit- they have SO much information on their website including a training that they recorded that I watched earlier this week. 

We were there to talk about 3 main issues- IVF for Vets, Adoption Tax Credit Refundability and personhood bills. 

IVF for Vets was passed last year but only for 2 years. It expires in 2018. Active duty military have access to IVF through their healthcare which is great. But vets who are wounded causing problems with their reproductive systems (both men and women) did not have coverage. Can you imagine fighting for our country, getting wounded and then having no coverage when you wanted to start a family. The bill that is on the table in the House and Senate would make the IVF for Vets permanent. 

The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability would change the current tax law so that even if you don't owe taxes you would still get the tax credit back. Right now you can get up to $13,000 back as a credit but only if you owe. This is especially unhelpful to most families who adopt as they are usually middle to low income households who might not owe taxes. There are 4,700 children in foster care in Virginia. It would save our state $67,000 to $127,000 for each child that is adopted out of the foster care system. Not only would this bill be helpful to families but it makes sense for states too. 

The last part was personhood bills. Currently there are a couple in the House and the Senate. We are opposed to personhood bills. Personhood bills give rights to basically a zygote. HR 586 seeks to define that "the life of each human being begins with fertilization" and a "one-celled embryo" is "a new unique human being"This would be detrimental to couples who have to use IVF to have a child. This bill would make a law that says a women has to have ALL embryos transferred to her- there's no freezing or discarding them. Some women have 10 or more embryos. How can this be safe for her or the embryos they say they are trying to protect? While I understand part of the intent of these laws are anti-abortion they are far from being pro-family. They are certainly not pro-life and they are not pro-woman. Similar bills that have passed at the state level were used to prosecute women for having abortions. These bills would guarantee that we would not be able to have any more biological children. That is not very "pro-life" or "pro-family" to me. 

We got our schedule for the day

We listened to many speakers including Barbara Collura- President/CEO of Resolve

And Representative Timothy Walz from MN

After we listened to speakers we met with our state delegations. Virginia has a very large group and met with each other and we talked about who was going to say what in each meeting. We got to see who would be coming to our Representative meetings from the larger groups. Then because we had a 10:30 meeting we left the training a little early to walk over to the Capitol. 

So I knew the Capitol was large but WOW! I forgot about all of the other buildings attached. Thank God for the underground tunnels as it was around 90 yesterday! 

First stop was the Russell Senate Office Building to see Tim Kaine. 

The Russell Building is GORGEOUS! Exactly what you think when you think of the Capitol. We had some time before our first meeting so we waited and took in the architecture. 

This is where the media films members of Congress for their shows. We saw a couple giving interviews- although I didn't know who they were. 

Still waiting! 

George and I in front of Tim Kaine's office. 

This is our whole Virginia delegation! So big that we barely fit into Tim Kaine's conference room. Unfortunately we did not get to meet with the Senator but we met with his staffer. She was so knowledgeable and listened to our message. 

Next up was Mark Warner. We used the underground tunnels to get to the Hart Senate Building. I just want to say that umm it was A LOT different that the Russell Building. It looked like an old hotel. It was so interesting to see how different those 2 buildings are! Fun fact- I actually have met Mark Warner before when I was in SGA for 1 year in college. We took a trip to Richmond and we all got to meet him and take pictures with him when he was Governor of Virginia.

There was so many of us we couldn't even fit in Mark Warner's office so we met in the hallway. We were told in our training that we might have to meet in the hallways with some Senators or Representatives and that we would probably only meet with their staff. Obviously the men and women in congress are very busy! But their staffers are each focused on different issues such as veterans affairs, taxes, etc so it was helpful to meet with them. 

After our meeting with Mark Warner's staff we went to lunch. We didn't all stick together, some left the Capitol building and some of us ate in the cafeteria. It was nice to get to sit down and get a break from all of the walking and to get to know some of the advocates from our state a little better.

After lunch we went to the House of Representatives. Before our 2:00 pm meeting with Don Beyer we passed out letters to other Representatives who didn't have constituents there on Advocacy Day. We stopped at 2 offices but neither had staff available to meet with us so we left our information and letters for them.

One thing I was really looking forward to was riding the tram! Because I thought it took you all the way to all of the buildings- I thought it would have different stops. It doesn't. But it was nice to cut out some of the walking and it was still fun to ride!

After we dropped off the constituents letters we went to Don Beyer's office who is our Representative in the House. I was excited because I heard that we were actually going to meet with him (and we did!). It was funny because there was just 4 of us there really early for our meeting so we waited in the hallway when we saw Don Beyer walking towards us. He said hello to us and we told him we would be in soon! 

This is our group for Don Beyer. Obviously geography helps for our group to be so big but I think its important for our Congressmen and women to see the people who are facing the issues they are representing us on. We all crowded into his office- his staff was so accommodating of us. He saw on his desk and listened to all of our issues. It was nice to talk to him personally. I wish I could have asked him more questions but we stuck to the issues! 

George and I with our Rep. Don Beyer. He is such a kind man. It was helpful to talk to 3 democrats about the issues we wanted to discuss because they all were very supportive. 

After our meetings there was a reception with some snacks and drinks. We filled out our form about the day and then I pretended like I was in a House of Representatives committee. I think I fit right in! 

We cut out of the reception a little early to make our way back to Arlington- but not before a selfie with the Capitol. 

Gorgeous inside and out!

I don't know how accurate this is because its from George's iPhone but I think it was pretty close. If you are going to a day at the Capitol be prepared for a lot of stairs and steps! 

One think we were totally unprepared for was the dogs we say in the House! We were walking down one hallway, I looked down an adjacent hall and saw a girl throwing a ball to her dog. Like the size of Bailey! And then after our Don Beyer meeting we saw a man walking down the hall with his black lab puppy. I took a picture of him but sadly he was too wiggly and it didn't come out. His owner said that if the Rep you work for allows it then its okay- usually during recesses. The staffers do a lot of hard work for most of the year so I think its so cool they get to bring their dogs in when they have a little break! 

Overall I think Advocacy Day was a huge success. I am really glad we went. I hate that it takes something personally affecting you or someone close to you before you really start paying attention but we are here now and ready to continue fighting for this. I think people either forget or don't know that infertility is a medically diagnosed disease. It makes no sense that most insurances do not cover it.

I want to end this by saying a HUGE thank you to my husband George. He didn't really know what he was signing up for (oops!) but I told him it was important to me, and us, and he took the day off and went with me. I've heard awful stories of husbands and wives who don't make it through cancer diagnosis or infertility. Not only has he always shown unwavering support of me and our family but he does it without complaint or asking "why me/us". He has been my rock, my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on for the last 11 years. We never ever thought we would have to go anything like this, let alone so young and so early in our marriage but I think we have been even stronger together. There are times when I don't think I can go through this surrogacy stuff anymore but he continues to help me search for the light at the end of the tunnel. I could not have ever found a better partner for me through all of this or life in general. Again, thank you so much George- I love you forever and ever. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

No hair day

It's funny to look back on my cancer journey and see how some dates stick out more than others. 

This year I got really emotional on July 11th- the day the lump was found. More so than on July 23rd- diagnosis day. And even some years July 10th is the hardest day- the day before my physical when they found the lump. I remember sitting on the couch crying on July 11th this year, remembering what that day felt like 4 years before and looking at George and wondering aloud if these days would always be like this. If these dates would stop my in my tracks for the rest of my life. 

One date that caught me off guard this year was November 28. I remembered on the 27th that the 28th is when my hair really started falling out. I remember sobbing hysterically that morning four years ago. The chemo was working. And I was losing all of my hair. I remember in the next coming days how I would barely touch or brush my hair. Willing it to stay in. At least until December 1st when I would have it all shaved off. 

The thought of losing my hair was so emotional for me. I would tear up at just the thought of losing it. I think it was 2 things. I LOVE being a red head. It always made me feel special and different. It's how I identified myself. I was afraid that it would fall out and it would grow back a different color and I would lose my identity. Which obviously is ridiculous. I realized that after my breakdown on Novemeber 28th. The 2nd thing about losing my hair was that I would look sick. I'm not one to look for sympathy or someone who likes a lot of attention. What's more obvious than a 29 year old bald woman? Even though I was so open about having cancer I liked it when I looked well. If I looked well than people would think I was well and they wouldn't treat me different. 

Looking back, being bald wasn't terrible. I never want to be bald again but the experience wasn't so bad. Maybe I just feel that way because my straight, red hair grew back almost exactly the same as it was before. But it was also a comfort blanket. It showed me that chemo was working. But growing out your hair after being bald is a completely different story! 

December 1st

Sometimes when I think of these dates- cancerversaries as I like to call them- I think of myself as "her". Someone else this happened to. Sometimes I think- she was so brave to make that decision or fight through chemo or go and get radiation everyday. How hard it must have been for her to get up on July 24th and walk into work knowing everyone knew.

I miss her. I miss the July 10, 2012 Kyle. The one who doesn't know about expanders, TAC, ports and tons of lidocaine cream. When I think back to all those dates, I'm most sad mourning her. Who she thought she was and what she thought she'd become. 

I know she's still here. A better, braver, more confident Kyle. We beat this. And we are learning to be a survivor together. Slowly, year by year, each cancerversary takes up less and less of my day. I think an important part of any journey is remembering how far you've come. And my hair is just one representation of that.