3 Month Scan: NED

How can I best describe yesterday? Cruel and unusual punishment I think is fitting, maybe even an understatement actually! Seriously!

Imagine getting into a car. Your destination is a place where you first had to digest the news. Where you lost so much. Where you spent so many days receiving treatment. Where you spent painful days and nights. A hospital. What’s waiting for you there is Scenario 1: another new lease on life or Scenario 2: well, you just can’t say it out loud. You wait to be called back. You then sit in the room for a half hour. A half hour! Your stomach is in knots you’ve never known before. You look at your watch to see your heart rate consistently at 100 BPM. It’s different this time around. The first time you had no idea what treatment meant or what it’d do to you. This time around, you know exactly what that second scenario would mean physically, emotionally and mentally. The room is silent because you just can’t muster any words, your brain is too transfixed on the what ifs. 

And then within 10 seconds of your doctor walking in, he tells you your scans are all clear and you feel a wave of relief that can’t be described. 

Thank God for that. Seriously, we are so, so thankful for clear scans. It isn’t lost on us that clear scans are a huge deal. There are zero guarantees with cancer. Zero. My goodness. Cancer is so cruel. I’m not sure what’s worse – the treatment or that process yesterday! I pray it’ll get easier every time because my goodness. 

But. 

It’s clear. We are clear! Thank you a million times again for all the support this past week – especially to Moe & Sheila who hosted and fed us two late nights in a row to keep us busy and laughing. We celebrated last night with a Beef special: pizza, a glass of champagne and an 8pm bedtime. We will pop that Dom Friday (Kelly, for the win on that!). πŸ™‚ I am exhausted in so many ways. Physically of course but mentally and emotionally even more so. This life is really hard. We just keep waking up each day, grateful for another day, and move forward. Some days it’s forward two steps, other days it’s two miles. We even have days of 200 miles. Make the most of every dang moment, that’s all you can do! 

On the up & up in other news, my birthday is Monday. Another bittersweet day. We booked a last minute trip to New Orleans for it. I could not be more excited to get out of town with Kevin. No agenda, no plans. Eat, sleep, drink, laugh, people watch, repeat. I look forward to a lot of fun, off the grid. I need it. We need it. 

Love you all so much. So grateful for all of you. So grateful to wake up today NED! 

Beef 

Scan Week

Seven days until my first three month scan. One part of me is how has it been three months already? Job well done to us in keeping ourselves incredibly busy, the time has flown and we’ve managed to have a lot of fun. On the other hand, what a bumpy road it has been.

My scans are next Monday morning. My doctor appointments are Tuesday afternoon.

I heard a lot about “scanxiety” once I was declared cancer free. I pushed it off to the side, thinking it can’t be that bad. Ha. The last week and a half have been tough. My closest compadres have turned into therapists that I should be billing on an hourly cycle! #earlyretirement

I woke up this morning wanting to challenge myself. That vacation was really well timed! And you know me, forever competing. Option A: I could let the next seven days eat me alive. Or, Option B: I can do everything in my power to make the most of the next seven days, knowing no amount of fear, worry or anxiety are going to actually change what shows on those scans.

I’m challenging myself to the latter, Option B. Theme of our lives. Faith > Fear. Attitude is everything. Cancer is a war, an endless physical battle (ask my joints) but I’m a huge believer that the battle is also hugely mental. If you treat yourself like a cancer patient, you will become one. If you let it rule, it will win. If you attack it and do everything you can to remain yourself, your true self, you win. I’ve tried to fight everyday to maintain as much normalcy as possible, we’ve already lost enough.

So for the next seven days, I’m going to fill my calendar with fun, food, friends & family. I joined a kickboxing gym (talk about incredible therapy!!). I’m challenging myself to go four times this week even though its hard. We are seeing a stand up show, going to a Sox game and celebrating a baptism. I am going to do my absolute best to trust God’s bigger plan, even in the hardest of moments over the next week. I’m going to beat scanxiety!

And ultimately, we are going to pray like crazy that those scans come back clear and we’ll get another three months to tackle together and another three months and another three months until its years and years past this. We would love you forever if you joined us!

Thank you Team Beef!

 

Father’s Day πŸ’–


We were lucky enough to spend the last five days in northern Michigan with two of our best friends Hilary & Andy. The beach, beautiful weather, four dogs and four humans, so much laughter and the perfect distraction from today, Father’s Day. We are so thankful for such incredible friends that have walked everyday of this journey with us.We took this family picture two nights ago and while I love it so much (all three puppies looking?!), there’s just a glaring emptiness to it without Hallie. I know with all my heart that Hallie would’ve had her Dad’s blue eyes and that’s what crushes my heart all over again today.

Truth be told, I’ve written and re-written this blog post 100x. I can’t quite seem to articulate what I want to say in a meaningful way. 

What I want to say is this is so unfair. For some reason, I can rationalize & normalize in my mind when something happens to me. But to see Kevin with empty arms today, it hits me in a whole new way. 

What I want to say is Kevin melts my heart over and over when I see him with our best friends kids. He is so patient, so much fun. Heck, he’s practically a kid himself, so of course he’s amazing with them. Those are the moments that tear your heart to pieces more than anything, it’s so confusing. It’s one part pure joy and it’s equal part a desperation for Hallie to be that kiddo he’s holding or chasing. It’s all parts sadness over the reality that it’ll never be Hallie.

What I want to say is how these days flood you with the realization of how many moments you’ll continue to be robbed of. Kevin and I always joked about having a girl between my tomboy ways (aka how would I ever be able to do her hair?!) and Kevin’s perceived inability to watch his daughter date boys. How could we?! But when we found out we were pregnant and I told Kevin I knew it was a girl – all I kept telling him was he was going to get that one moment with his daughter that I had with my Dad, one of the greatest moments of my life: walking down the aisle together. I kept telling him how special it would be. I was so happy for him. I can’t articulate what it feels like to know he’ll never have that with Hallie. 

What I want to say is how much I admire Kevin’s ability to make the most out of any situation he’s in. He’s the only human in the world that could’ve held us up through all of this. He’s the only human in the world that could say today, “I’m just trying to focus on the positive. We are almost on profile.” 

But these milestones are the worst. The absolute worst. 

I will take a page from his book and look forward to what our story will become. There’s a baby out there somewhere that God is going to bring into our lives and I pray over and over that this is the last Father’s Day Kevin has to spend with empty arms. That child is going to have a Dad that loves fiercely, laughs passionately, and will work so hard everyday to provide. A Dad that challenges him/her to always be the best version of themselves, to chase their dreams. A Dad that will keep him/her close in the tough days but will push them to be independent as they grow up. A Dad that will inevitably keep their Mom on her toes as he will likely be a little reckless in how high he pushes the swing or how high up he throws them in the air. No escaping that! A Dad that leads by example, an example of respect and love. A Dad that shows no situation can’t be championed without a positive attitude and a little bit of faith and humor. A Dad that tells the absolute corniest jokes. A Dad that is simply the best. 

That’s your Dad, Hallie! I know you’re looking down upon him today and I know that someday when you two are reunited, it’ll be the biggest hug ever sweet girl. I don’t know which one of you needs it more! πŸ’–

Happy Father’s Day Kevin! I love you with all my heart. πŸ’š

Engagementversary

I am not sure that’s a word but go with me! Engagementversary! 5 years ago we went hiking on Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona. Kevin’s thunder (or mine, I guess) was almost totally stolen by Paisley who nearly fell off a cliff on our way up. Typical, right? Well, we made it up & the rest is history. Looking back on it all, my advice to anyone wanting to get married? Find a guy that’ll wear a shirt representing your home town when he proposes – so thoughtful Kevy Bear! Yes, it was a St. Charles Storm shirt for all you STC readers! πŸ™‚ 

A lot has happened in 5 years! 

A lot has happened just today. A lot has happened this week. It hasn’t been my best week, but it has also been a great week. 

We finished our home study portion of the adoption process today. Our social worker is amazing. She made a comment about how neat we are. I could barely hide my snicker as I thought to myself, yeah, my house ALWAYS looks like this (enter champagne stained walls here!!). Not. The dogs rocked their part, especially Bear. Good work guys. How are we feeling? Beyond excited. Sad. Hopeful. It’s all so crazy. 

We’ve talked nursery colors and baby names the past few days. Some moments it’s amazing. Others it’s like howwww is this our life. But man, I can’t believe we are so close to being on profile!! We are so close to finally having our dream of being a family. Hallie is so close to being a big sister. πŸ’•

I then found out today a friend, a few years younger than me, was diagnosed with cancer. I can’t describe the anger I felt. The anger I FEEL. I kept telling her how unfair it is. She looked at me and said the same thing right back to me but forget me. I’m old news. This has to stop! Cancer is the freaking WORST. It really is just anger! It’s so unfair. I hate that word, but it is. No one deserves cancer, not even an 85 year old who has lived a long life blessed with kids and grandkids, let alone someone who hasn’t even gotten that opportunity yet!! It was a really, really hard part of our day.

So. Many. Emotions. 

And yes, file this post under one of those categorized as “free therapy” for me.

And then back to that old engagementversary! 

5 years ago today at this time, Kevin & I were off the grid with a bottle of champagne, Taco Bell (true story), sitting in a creek in the red rocks, dreaming & planning for the life that was now ours together. Forever. That day was so perfect. So perfect. But looking back now, you sure realize how much a ring is a ring, an engagement is an engagement and a wedding is just that, a wedding. A marriage though? That’s what it’s really about. I am really, really proud of us today. Our ability to roll with the punches together, our ability to laugh, our ability to hold each other up when we need it the most. Don’t get me wrong, cancer and the loss of Hallie has pushed us to the brink and beyond. Some days you need a complete do over with each other. But that’s what I love about us most, it always comes back to us. Us against the world. I don’t think I’ve ever really told anyone but that’s what’s inscribed on our wedding rings – Us Against the World. Prophetic? Perhaps! Really it’s a decision every day to wake up and fight together and I’m thankful that we do that. How else do you survive this?! Must be #halliestrong 

A storm is rolling in now so I have to take that as a good sign. Our first adoption interview was during a huge thunderstorm so I think God is telling us it’s going to be all good. It has to be! Thunderstorms, always for the win. 

πŸ’•βœ¨πŸ’š

HallieStrong CelebrationΒ 

The song that I clung too in the lowest moments since October, the song I’ve talked so much about on here – Held – is about a family who lost their 2 month old. It’s about how unfair it is but in our darkest times, we are simply held to get through. The chorus goes, 

“This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is what it means to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell, you’d be held.” 

What that song became for me is an escape for 3-4 minutes (and most times on repeat several times) from the grief, the doubt, the fear, as it always made me think about the incredible acts of kindness done on our behalf. I would play in my head a conversation, a text, whatever it was and I was always able to shift my thinking into realizing how lucky Kevin & I are for our support system, how much we were truly held through all of this.

My immense desire to someday be able to thank Team Beef plus my desire for a motivating force that was positive and something to look forward too led to the idea of a beat cancer party being born around round 3 or 4 of chemo. By round 5, it’s all we talked about. I remember vividly sitting at my kitchen counter with Hilary & Kevin the night before round 5 telling them I had this vision of blasting We Are the Champions to a champagne toast. Let me just say, that plan worked out. πŸ™‚ 

Fast forward to Saturday and at one point I stood on my deck during the party and saw college teammates, my Yelp family, our families from near and far, great friends from all walks of life. It took everything inside of me not to burst into tears of gratitude. Tough times show true colors and the people in that backyard are a big reason why we survived. They each held us in some way and to have them all one place is something I’ll never forget. 

And what a perfect day it was.  Hallie even got a Snapchat filter! πŸ’š

We had a photo booth that was far too much fun:I got my wish of finally being able to toast a glass of champagne to everyone …in my champagne hat:And what I’m most happy about, everyone signed a canvas that we will proudly display in our future nursery so that Baby Hart will always have a reminder of his/her hero of a big sister:

Thanks to everyone for coming out and to all of those that were there in spirit. We had so much fun with you all. 

While I hate why we had to have this party, I ended my short speech by saying that I hope the next time we all gather it’ll be to celebrate the adoption of our child. What a celebration that’ll be. We have so much to hope for, so much to be grateful for. Halliestrong. πŸ’š

So much love, 

Kevin & Beef