Guest blogger Hilary here. For those of you that don’t know me; consider yourself lucky. I’m Kevin and Bethany’s perma-third wheel that they just cant seem to shake. I arrived in Chicago Thursday from Pennsylvania and thought I had best prepped for trying to “win friend of the week.” I appeared at Bethany and Kevin’s door with a pseudo-housewarming-pseudo-care-package: an essential oil diffuser (oils included) andddddd a bomb Christmas candle becauseeeee Bethany LOVES Christmas duh. Essential oils can boost mood, help with nausea, aid with sleep, relieve stress, and so much more. Genius right?!?!? The essential oil diffuser/candle combo seemed like a super cool idea until shortly after Bethany opened my gift bag, she reached for one delivery (of many) and pulled a custom Blackhawks Hockey Fights Cancer jersey clad with Hart on the back and #19 – the number of Jonathan Toews who is her favorite player and the namesake of her very-obvious-and-somewhat-concerning favorite dog (ya Team Steve I’m lookin at you). Thanks a lot Yelpers…not.
I digress–>48 hours into my visit it became very clear to me that I’m the one who needed this visit most.
I have found myself absolutely astounded that my best friends have found themselves under these insane circumstances. There’s no other way to describe Bethany and Kevin’s current battle than a “shitshow” (eek sorry mom). Before getting to visit Bethany and Kevin, I literally found myself saying over and over, “I seriously cannot believe this. Like I CANNOT believe this.” I felt like I was having an out of body experience even describing their current reality and I’m not even the one going through it.
Upon arriving at their new home, I found some solace in knowing Bethany truly has the most perfect new home to complete the rest of her battle comfortably and with the promise of a clean slate lingering in the near future. I quickly got to spend more time getting to know their closest support system: their families and let me tell you when I say my first regret was not brushing up on my notorious movie lines prior to my arrival (envision that awkward laugh you do when you’re trying to pretend you’re cool and in on the joke but really have no freaking clue what movie they’re referring to). Their families have been by their home each night helping them move in, get settled, cater to Bethany’s every need, supply delicious food, good wine, and better company. I am so happy knowing these are the people they have celebrating small victories with them on the best of days and pushing them through the darker days.
Bethany’s mom, Mary has been knighted with the title, “wing-woman.” Not only because she’s worthy of royalty but also because while Kevin is busy running from Bethany’s appointments and work, Mary has been able to seamlessly ensure that in the moments between, Bethany always has company, chauffeur service, moral support, and quite a few laughs. She’s hilarious y’all. And here I thought I was getting to come spoil Bethany, Kevin, and their families and yet I’ve been the one wined, dined, and entertained….I swear I am cooking and giving them all a night off before I leave (Bethany already pinky promised).
If laughter is the best medicine, then boy are the Hart-Conrad crew heavily medicated. Despite the circumstances they do not lose sight of their humor. I have majorly been struggling to be as funny as Bethany and Kevin and their families… my best joke was when we were pulling out of Loyola Hospital today after getting the dressing on Bethany’s port checked and we saw a cat. I felt like this was my BEST (and only) opportunity to try and be as witty as them so I belted out from the backseat “maybe it’s here for a CAT scan….” Get it?! I got a few laughs so that made me feel super good – because this is all about me right?!
At the (quick) appointment at Loyola to get Bethany’s dressing changed on her port I got to meet Bess, one of the nurses at Loyola. Bethany and Kevin have been raving about their team at Loyola and if Bess was any indication they truly have the greatest team. It was such a relief to see first hand Bethany is being treated and has exactly what our girl deserves: the best. Bess was patient, informative, kind, and most of all personable. It has been a huge concern to me that Bethany isn’t just “another patient” but that she, Hallie, Kevin, and their families’ battle is treated as that, a human battle. I’m so relieved to have a small glimpse of their experience at Loyola and know that they truly have the best team on their side.
After our stop at Loyola we were off to explore Bethany’s wig options. Bethany wanted to check this off the list before treatment started and understandably so, Mary, Bethany’s doll of a mom had an appointment set up super close to their home. The short version is that appointment didn’t work out and we were back to the drawing board scrambling to find a place that could squeeze us in today so we could cross this off Bethany’s to-do list before her chemo starts Tuesday.
The day would have been absolutely perfect…had Erica, Bethany’s extremely sweet sister in law (she showed up at Bethanys house with coffees and Donuts in the morning, a girl after my own heart) not let her phone die so all the pressure was on me to find a back up wig salon (via Yelp of course). I was A NERVOUS NELLY as I began my search. The pressure of finding a backup wig salon on a Saturday in Chicago was almost as much pressure as guest blogging. Anyways, we ended up getting an appointment at a place called Ink Salon, Angel Hair Services. I scoured their website which was full of info on solutions for individuals with various hair loss needs and those seeking cranial prostethics. I called, told them our situation, our previous appointment fail, and they said their spirits and prayers were with Bethany and to come on in at 1:30. We had some time to kill so we grabbed chai teas at a trendy coffeehouse, lunch at a delicious Mexican place, shared some funny family stories, and still had time to kill. So, we meandered our way to a tavern with the Blackhawks game (of course) and some great bloody Mary’s right around the corner from our wig appointment. We laughed some more, took a few more pictures, discussed North Korea and the recent election (how scholarly of us), and made our way to Ink Salon.
Well since I found the place I was feeling the pressure but Yelp delivered! We were BLOWN away by the Nike clad (ergo Bethany’s affinity for Nike and sports it was an immediate sign this was a “knock out of the park” as Papa Conrad would say) sweet lady Linda who greeted us at her wig shops door. She was truly one of a kind. She was so knowledgeable, so thorough, and most importantly so chic with the myriad of wig options, compositions, and styles. Bethany is in great hands and Linda is throwing in a few extra presents because Bethany is that cool.
(Had to have a little fun with the blonde!)
Anyways here I am back at home again laughing until my stomach hurts with Bethany, Kevin, and Sean, Kevin’s kind brother who joined the rest of their families helping Kev move the last truck loads of their stuff out to their beautiful new home and new beginning in the suburbs.
All things considered these two are so blessed. They have THE greatest families, the most amazing extended friends cheering them on and every single step of the way. They’re in the greatest city (repeat Hawks championships) with the best of hospitals, their beautiful guardian angel is ushering them to the finish line from up above, and they have not lost sight of their love, laughter, and dreams for the future.
Tonight I’ll go to bed (with Kevin on the couch because he apparently flops around too much and scares Bethany he will bump her), Bethany by my side, rest assured she is well equipped with every single thing she needs. The courage, strength, faith, husband, family, prayers, humor, and will, she will beat this!
Bethany, Kevin, and Hallie. You inspire me, all of us, every single day. We CANNOT wait for the celebration that lies at the end of his.
#halliestrong #bethanystrong #itriedtobeasfunnyasthem