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. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Yesterday marked 4 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. I say this a lot but it feels like yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. July is a hard month for me. I spend a lot of time reflecting back to that coresponding day in 2012 and remember what I was doing and what that felt like. Surprisingly July 10th is a really hard day for me. That's the day I wish I could go back to. The day before the lump. Before cancer ever entered my world.

I know now that I am a million times stronger than I ever thought I was on July 10, 2012. And I know a lot more about myself, life and friendship then I did that day too. And although sometimes I get upset when I think people have forgotten all I've gone through I know for sure that my family is loved and will be cared for. 

I had a physical Friday. I realized last week that maybe having a physical in the office where my cancer was found the day before my cancerversary wasn't such a great idea. Last time I had a physical 4 years ago I walked out of that office with tears in my eyes- terrified of what this lump might be and hoping that my worst fears weren't coming true. Friday I walked out of that office with tears in my eyes- this time of pure joy. I'm healthy. Besides needing a little vitamin D, I am healthy. 

When you go through the worst time in your life it is amazing how everyone comes together around you. People you barely know, people who are your best friends, your family. Friends made us dinners, friends watched our pets, friends took us to lunch to get a break and most importantly to me, friends helped us keep Mackenzie's life as normal as possible. We can never thank you all enough. 

I'm so glad I wrote down everything I went through because I often find myself thinking "my mastectomy wasn't that bad" or "chemo wasn't that bad" and I will go back and read about it and be surprised at how much I've forgotten. I'll also remember how bad radiation was- it was the worst! 

I feel a little guilty for not having my fundraiser this year. I just needed a mental break I think. Looking for a surrogate takes up a lot of space in my brain. In a way I can thank cancer for teaching me that sometimes there's too much on your plate and it's okay to leave something off. I really do enjoy my fundraiser though so I am hoping that I can bring it back next year! Although I, of course, wish I never had cancer, the pink sisters I've gained from my association with The III B's Foundation and Good Wishes Scarves have been amazing. 

George and I decided since we weren't doing the fundraiser this year maybe we should get away for the night. Unfortunately when your cancerversary is in the summer every place books up fast or is SUPER expensive! And as much as I love the beach, thinking about all the traffic took that quickly off the list. We are so grateful to the Gan family for letting us use their country getaway for the night. I love city life but sometimes it is nice to break away from that and sit outside in the country and look at all the stars in silence. 

We spent the day getting massages, eating and gambling- a few of my favorite things (we were so glad my BFFL Min could join us for some gambling and dinner!). A lot of times things like a health crisis can strain relationships but I feel all of this has brought George and I closer. It was so hard for him to watch me go through all of this but he never showed me- he never left my side. I'm so grateful for him. 

Thank you for following along the last 4 years and standing by us as we have navigated this new life. We are so lucky to have so many friends and family around us! 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dear Mackenzie

7 years ago on June 18th I took a pregnancy test and waited for 2 eternity filled minutes for the results. We wanted you so bad. When I finally flipped the test over it said PREGNANT and I cried tears of joy! I didn't tell your dad right away because it was the Thursday before Father's Day and I wanted to get him something Father's Day related to surprise him. He was so surprised when I told him later that night and we were so happy!

You were such a dream while I was pregnant. You just rolled around in there and usually slept while I slept. I was never sick. It was the most magical time of my life. Your dad only got to feel you kicking once. You were born 7 weeks early so we got to spend an extra 7 weeks getting to know you on the outside.

You are the same dream child that you were when I was pregnant with you. You sleep SOOOO WELL! I loved being on maternity leave with you because you were so easy. I love every second of the 4 months I was off (except when you were at the hospital!).

When I think of the fact that I will never get to be pregnant again it makes me so sad because from the second I saw the words pregnant I loved you so much. I'm afraid we, as a family of 3, won't ever get to experience that. When your dad and I were talking about having another child, I couldn't wait to share those moments of me being pregnant with you.

What hurts the most is that I don't want to disappoint you. When you're a mom you feel like you have to constantly try to make everyone happy. There are so many different opinions and advice that you have to muddle through. But the only thing I care about is you.


You are empathetic.
You are kind.
You are smart.
You are brave. 
You are the most beautiful girl in the world. 
You love children and are so good with them.
You love to tell us you love us and you give us lots of hugs and kisses

You are everything.

I don't think I would have made it through all of this if it wasn't for you. You have silently given me the strength to continue my fight. You didn't even know something was wrong. Well we didn't tell you anything about cancer 4 years ago. I know you knew. We told you I had to take special medicine. But you give me the powers I need to keep fighting. 

Next week is your last week of kindergarten. I cannot believe you are all ready old enough to be a first grader. This year has been amazing for so many reasons. But mainly it was incredible to watch you go from a little girl to a person. You can read, add, subtract, you know science and history. It has been awesome to watch. It's also been great because we had a lot of time to kill after school before bedtime and I truly enjoyed those extra couple of hours with you. I think this year we have grown a lot closer.

You have made all my dreams come true just because you are here. You have taught me so much about myself, the world and what living life really is all about. I love who you have made me and I cannot wait to see what this world brings you!

I love you all the way to the Milky Way and back. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016


We have been talking with a potential surrogate for the last 3 weeks or so. I found her on one of my Facebook match board we had both recently joined. She was a great match for us and I have talked to her almost everyday since we "met". It's been cautiously exciting. We have only told 2 people about her- my mom and my sister-in-law Claire because I thought maybe this time if I didn't tell anyone it would work out.

We went through the beginning chats about our beliefs and I sent her my blog and we agreed to everything. It was all very easy. At first I was a little nervous because everything with the scammer that tried to match with us a couple of months ago was easy too- well more like she was just 100% agreeable but after talking with this potential surrogate everyday I realized shes just a really nice person. We finally decided that it was time to see if she would be cleared by my doctor and move along. 

She lives in a different state which I was concerned about at first but it is within driving distance (8 hours) so I felt better about that. Plus my doctors office said she would only have to come up here twice which I felt a lot better about because that saves a lot of money!

Yesterday she had a phone appointment with my fertility doctors office and that seemed to go well. They said they had to review the paperwork and they would get back to us. But they also scheduled her a phone appointment with my doctor so we were both excited about that.

I do have to say that although we try really hard not to be, its hard for George and I to not get excited. To think about when the transfer would be and then what the due date would be, when we would be able to tell Mackenzie, and all of the stuff that goes along with a pregnancy. It has been fun imagining all the scenarios and thinking of fun things like a transfer present and birth present for our potential surrogate.

Tonight my doctor called personally to tell me that he was medically denying her. It's not because of anything she did- in fact it was very much out of her control but she was denied nonetheless.

I was sitting on the basement stairs while I talked to my doctor and Mackenzie was watching tv in the living room. I was totally calm while talking to my doctor and actually really, really appreciated that he called personally to explain everything to me. When I got off the phone I just sat silently on the steps and cried, being very careful not to be heard. I couldn't imagine what I could have told Mackenzie in that moment.

I'm at a point now of anger and disappointment that I'm not sure how to get out of. Part of me just wants to give up. Actually most of me wants to give up- we have no more options and I'm tired of this roller coaster. I really wish we knew someone who lived near us who was willing to be our surrogate but after a year of asking it is becoming clear that we will have to use a stranger. And then go through all of this again- hope they aren't a crazy person just in it for money, hope they don't want a ton of money, hope they have insurance that covers their surrogate pregnancy, hope that my doctor clears them, hope we all get psychologically cleared, hope that we agree to a contract, hope that the transfer takes and then hope a healthy baby is born.

I'm ready to take a break I think. Although I hate to say that because I feel like it means we aren't going to keep looking. I just can't keep actively looking all the time. It is stressful to watch for how many likes, views or shares my surrogacy posts get. I think about the quote below often and I keep putting our need for a surrogate out into the universe and talk about it with people even though it might make us both uncomfortable but if I don't tell everyone about it how can we expect to find a surrogate?

I've said this before but it bears repeating- this is the worst thing we have ever been through. And I'm not trying to be dramatic about it. It is 100% worse then going through cancer treatments. At least then I had an end in sight. This is going on forever. In about 3 weeks it will be an entire year of looking for a surrogate and I just never imagined we wouldn't have a baby on the way by now. I wish we were stressing about finding space for baby things and paying for daycare but we aren't. I would love to be sleep deprived, listening to arguing children and changing diapers but we aren't.

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts as we struggle through this incredibly difficult time in our lives. The ironic part of it all is that George and I feel like we are actually better than ever in our relationship because of all of this which is great. I can't imagine going through all of this with anyone else by my side.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I debated even writing a blog because nothing's new. My incision is still open, we still don't have a surrogate. Everything is still.

Honestly we are very discouraged. We were spoiled by getting 2 volunteers back to back. And now it's been 6 months since a serious candidate has come along. We have debated recently about giving ourselves a deadline to end our search and just move on. It is emotionally all consuming 24/7. We had someone for example from my online surrogacy group message me (that's exciting) but they've given birth 5 times (that's disappointing) and it never seems to stop. Last month was probably the hardest month so far for me personally and I'm just not sure how much more I can take. 

Ultimately I'm not sure if we could come up with a deadline. I'm afraid to give up and I'm afraid sometimes to keep going. I'm afraid to stop talking about it and begging for help. I used to fall asleep every night thinking about this baby- what month he or she would be born, would we find out their sex, what would Mackenzies reaction be, ect. And now I don't. Sometimes I read a name we picked out and it stops me for a second and then I move on. It makes me sad but I know it's my brain protecting my heart. 

We talked about adoption again but I just don't think it's for us. And it probably sounds weird that we would choose at this point to not have a child rather then give a child a home but that's our choice and we don't have to rationalize it to anyone. 

Tomorrow marks 6 years since our 5 week old 5 pound baby has surgery for pyloric stenosis. I remember at the time being relieved when she went back for surgery because I knew it was going to finally make her better. And at the time I thought how hard that situation was on us- our preemie who shouldn't have even been born yet having surgery so little. Never in a million years could I imagine that just 2.5 short years later we would be going through something so much more dire. It's amazing how that experience with Mackenzie is the reason my cancer was found. If she was born on time I probably wouldn't have gone for th physical that led to finding the lump (read more of Mackenzies birth story here And because my cancer was found we are now in this situation. 

So again requirements for our surrogate are: 
should be under 43
BMI under 35
no more than 2 c-sections
no more than 4 births. 

If you are someone or know someone who might want to be a surrogate send me a message. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

All I want for Christmas

We have been quiet about surrogacy lately because honestly we have given up a little bit. We still have a tiny bit of hope left but not like we did 6 months ago. We feel defeated. Looking back at my blog in January (and then in June) we were so full of hope and optimism and now honestly we don't even talk about it. We don't bring up having a baby at all.

I am on 2 surrogacy boards on Facebook and I have been approached by a couple different women to potentially be our surrogate. One I turned down because she lived too far away (and her fb profile was too minimal to seem like a real person) and 2 others didn't have insurance. The other thing is how much some of these women ask for in terms of compensation. We don't have a spare $30,000 plus a c section fee plus a multiples fee plus a clothing fee plus travel and on and on. I'm not saying that these women don't deserve compensation but after you add up all of those fees they can make almost $50,000. Then I'm wondering what is the original $30,000 for? 

This month has also been hard because when we thought we had a surrogate lined up in June we imagined that the transfer would be around October and if it worked we could announce around Christmas or Mackenzie's birthday in January. I was really looking forward to telling her that she was going to be a big sister for her birthday. She told me again this week that she wished she had a brother or sister. I can't imagine why she thinks we haven't had a baby yet. She knows that I was sick and had to take medicine that made my hair fall out but she doesn't know that I can't carry any more babies. I think it would break her heart. Her hope is keeping our hope alive. 

The other reason we haven't really talked about surrogacy is because I STILL have not completely healed from my reconstruction surgery. I have been on 2 different antibiotics and 2 different ointments. Last week my surgeon wanted to open my incision and reclose it in the office. I politely declined and asked if we could try the 2nd ointment first. Luckily it seems to be working. The other bad part is that my surgeon is moving to NJ and next week is his last week in the office. I felt like we were breaking up at my appointment this week. He's been such a calm and empathetic voice for the last 3 years and I'm really going to miss him. Although- you know- I wish we never met! 

I am feeling a little pressure because I need to start Lupron shots (to go into menopause) but I need to first be completely healed  before I can even think about doing an egg retrieval. I feel like a mess. And these are the moments I get really angry. I know that life is unfair sometimes but how unfair does it have to be? Sometimes I feel like I used up all of my luck in my first 27 years and then it ran out. It's really hard to watch others announce their pregnancy and then even harder to hear people complain about being pregnant or about what their kids are doing that's annoying. I would love to be annoyed by a 2 year old right now instead of begging strangers to carry our child. 

The other day I opened my email and saw I had a comment on my blog. I was excited to see what it said until I read it. 

First I'm guessing this person just read that one blog and not any others as this has been addressed. Second- how insensitive. Is adoption the only alternative to women who can't carry their own child? The comment makes it sound like I can go to our local kid adoption center and pick out whichever kid I want. Adoption is hard and expensive and while we are moving forward with surrogacy it doesn't mean that we would never consider adoption. In fact we have. Many times. I even recently looked into more agencies. But right now we just can't imagine a world that doesn't have another biological child of ours in it. Is that selfish? Maybe. But that is our choice. 

Please share this with anyone who you think might be able to be our surrogate. Or anyone who would also want to share it. At some point we are going to have to make some tough decisions if we can't find a surrogate but we aren't ready to give up just yet. Maybe 2016 will be the year of the baby. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Post surgery

Yesterday marked 1 month since my reconstruction surgery. It's going okay so far. The immediate recovery was a million times easier than my mastectomy surgery which everyone told me. I went for a post-op check up a week after surgery and it was good. I broke out all over my torso immediately after surgery  and I think it's from the orange stuff they put on you before surgery. It went away by the following week.

Last Wednesday I called my doctor because it looked red around my steri-strips in my incision on my cancer side and I was worried it was getting infected. They told me to come right in and the PA looked at it. She took off the steri-strips and looked a little concerned. It wasn't infected but radiation causes all sorts of wound problems. So I got another antibiotic and told to use Neosporin on that incision. The other side looks fine. 

I went back yesterday. I was supposed to go this Friday but my doctors office called yesterday to say they wanted to see me sooner. I guess the PA and my doctor were talking about me Tuesday and my doctor was concerned enough that he wanted to see me sooner. Luckily the PA was in the room with the doctor and she thought it looked much better. My doctor changed me to a prescription ointment and extended my 2nd antibiotic. He thinks that incision will be healed in about another week. I'm just hoping none of this pushes back when my restrictions get lifted on the 14th. 

I luckily haven't been in much pain. Last week I was in a little pain which another reason why I called the doctor but otherwise it hasn't been bad. I'm just looking forward to feeling normal and being able to do things like raise my arms over my head and sleep on my side. 

It's been a pretty emotional month. In my last blog I said that its brought back a lot of thoughts of cancer. Obviously I wouldn't be having this surgery if I never had cancer. But more than that sometimes I feel like cancer keeps butting in my life. It's like cancer sees I'm doing well so it throws something new at me. I wish I could get a restraining order. Last week I was really frustrated because one of the reasons I out this surgery off for so long is because I didn't want to have to deal with all of this again. So it felt like a punishment or something that I was having complications. It's bad enough that I'm permanently disfigured and have permanent discoloration from radiation but then to have my wound not heal too? I shouldn't have been surprised. After all I am usually in the small percentage that things happen to. But I'm feeling better after seeing my doctor yesterday and my incision finally look like it's starting to heal.  

On a different note, Tuesday was my head shaving cancerversary.
Bottom left and top left: 12/1/12 before and after, top middle: 12/1/13, top right: 12/1/14, bottom right: 12/1/15

I was reading my old blogs about shaving my head on Tuesday and it just seems so strange that those blogs are about me. I actually liked having a bald head once I finally had it shaved. Although I hated wearing a wig. Most days after work I'd take it off in the car on the way home from work- it makes your head so hot! And when your hair is falling out it is SO itchy! But hopefully I never have to experience that again! Growing your hair out is such a pain! I love looking back at old pictures from 2 years ago to see how crazy my hair looked while it was growing back out.