Move Complete ✔️

We are officially suburbanites, wow! A huge thanks to our realtor Kelly for such an easy process but the biggest thanks for the surprise of Christmas lights on the home. How thoughtful is that!! The actual move was successful yesterday. Can’t believe we are out of good ole 1601 Indiana, what a great apartment it was for the past two years. Our parents were the MVPs of the past two days, on both ends of the move. We are so appreciative! One of the best parts of this house too is we are only 12 minutes (precisely) from Sheila, Moe & Hadley. Sheila and H came over yesterday and let me tell you how fun an empty home is for a 2 year old. Who needs toys when you have empty kitchen cabinets! H is the best, such a little character. 

No stopping there this week though. Today I have labs for the surgery tomorrow & our chemo class at 4pm. Bring on the pro tips! 
My port surgery is tomorrow at 9:30am. I’m told this “mini surgery” should last about an hour & then they’ll keep me for a half hour or so to make sure everything is all good. Pray for a quick and easy process. I of course am scarred for life at the idea of surgery, so hopefully tomorrow will restore my faith that not every trip to the hospital is that bad! 

Let’s get to 3pm tomorrow though because that’s when one of my best friends Hilary lands in Chicago!! Last time we were with Hilary, we were in sunny Key West watching her marry her Prince Charming (don’t let her call you anything else Andy!) so although circumstances are a little different this time around, there will be no shortage of laughter and fun this weekend. On our agenda: figure out the wig situation, wear nothing but comfy clothes, decorate for Christmas, mani/pedi, soaking up every last moment of “regular life” before chemo & radiation begin, and there’s no better partner in crime to do that with! Rumor even has it that Hilary may be rocking a Kane jersey to day 1 of chemo, stay tuned! 

As for me, I’m hanging in there. The physical pain gets better every day and I’m getting around significantly better with each day that passes. Getting out of bed and standing up are the two tasks that still are hardest but I’ve come a LONG way. As the physical pain continues to subside, I’m more and more aware of the emotional/mental battle of everything that’s happened. I had a couple rough days this weekend processing it all. I’ve always been a worrier and let me tell you point blank, you can’t be that with a cancer diagnosis. My faith is being challenged in a whole new way and I feel it sometimes by the minute. Keep praying for us. And bring it on. I said to Kevin yesterday that this is all going to make me such a better person on the flip side because the things I’ve always struggled with most in life, I will have to master in this battle. That’s a win I guess?! 

Keep us in your thoughts & prayers tomorrow with the port surgery. And let it be an awesome weekend full of Christmas magic and “normalcy.” 

Beef

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Thankful

Medical updates first! Radiation prep went well. It was me and the 80 year olds on the day before Thanksgiving. I was admittedly pretty down heading into the appointment. We were supposed to hit the road for Galena first thing that morning, but now that it’s over (and thanks to some hilarious & well timed texts from my Benny, aka my good friend Keylon) I’m glad we got the appointment over with. Barium was a perfect appetizer for turkey after all. I only got stuck twice for the IV, so that’s a win. The nurse brought in the “good with veins” nurse after taking a look at my arms. She was so sweet. She saw all my bruises from the hospital and was talking a little trash about those failed attempts which the competitive side of me appreciated. Unfortunately she failed on her first try, but after she got the second one, she admitted that she got a little cocky when going in on attempt #1, I loved her even more. 🙂 We sat and talked for awhile after. The nurses at Loyola are seriously the greatest thing ever. 

During radiation you lay in these molds of your body each time to ensure it all hits the same place every time. To form the molds they poured these chemicals into a bag and then I laid on them – they reacted in such a way that they inflate to mold but also get really warm. Best spa treatment ever! After the scans I got my three tattoos too. #phoebe

We hit the road for Galena right from the hospital and enjoyed an incredible 5 day reprieve from doctors & worries. The home my family rented was amazing, although it is clear we’ve been binging too much on Fixer Upper as we drooled over their fireplace & wood accent wall. 

My brother & sister in law, Kev and Erica, bought the entire family matching Champion sweatshirts last Thanksgiving as a throwback to our youth. We added to it this year with matching pajama pants. Nothing like seeing 11 humans lounging in the same attire! Makes for comfy memories & great pictures. We sure enjoyed the massive amounts of food, the 5 foot tall bonfire built by the boys, the laughter (Uno never fails, swipy swap is a new rule & neither Luther Vandross singing One Shining Moment or Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat have anything on a Conrad production featuring Anna with the dance moves & Kevers on the broom guitar) and the care of family this holiday. Our hearts are full & thankful! Here  are some of my favorites pictures from the trip:

‘Family’ photo with my brother Chris:Sibling pics:Chris would wear his Cubs shirt, smh:Boys pics:


Girls pics:

We are so thankful for the retreat this trip was. On the surface, it’s hard to be thankful for anything right now but take away the wifi, the doctors, the appointments, the worries & life sure became easier, if only for a few days. Trust me when I say, we have *so* much to be thankful for, starting with all of you that have shown us so much love the past few weeks. Thankful for our families and friends who have carried us every step of the way. Thankful for Yelp & CDW who have shown us so much compassion. So many people say how strong we are, but that’s only because of the support you’ve given us.  

And on an ending note, I am especially thankful for this guy. I may be the one dealing with the physical side of this but I’m not sure that’s any easier than a husband having to watch his wife go through it all, especially considering the added circumstances. I appreciate him in so many new ways for what we’ve gone through in the past month.  I hate that this is our story but I’m thankful we are tackling the story together. 

Hope you all had an incredible Thanksgiving! And now, it is officially Christmas time!! 🎄So much love to all of you. We are grateful for our army!! ❤️

PS: You all remember my zamboni (aka zambeefy) ride at the Hawks game from October, yes?! We were walking downtown Galena and saw this lego set in the window of a store. Amazing, right?! Constructed by yours truly, under the supervision my Pops & Kevers & the scrutiny of the Von, who laughed at my use of the pictures. Psh. 

PPS: I forgot to highlight one of the best moments of the weekend. We had 4 cars venturing back to different parts of the Chi-land today. We all went on our way and somehow ended up at the same Culver’s, about an hour into the trip, unplanned. Great minds think alike! 

The Official Game Plan

I’ll start tonight’s post with a disclaimer. My mind is racing in a million different directions easily so if this post is all over the place, apologies! 

We had our doctors appointment with Dr. Small tonight, our radiation oncologist. We absolutely loved him, and not just because I found out he’s from St. Charles! His resident, Dr. H (I promise I will know her name after tomorrow!) was so amazing too, as is his nurse Andrea. They walked out of the room and Kevin and I both said at the same time how thankful we are that they’re on Team Beef, alongside Dr. Potkul. We were able to find some good laughs throughout the appointment too, which is always a plus. One was after Kevin asked a pretty pointed question about a potential treatment based off all the research he’s done. He stopped Dr. Small in his tracks as he said to Kevin, “you really have been reading a lot!” #starstudent 

We now have our official game plan set to kick this cancers ass. Excuse my language, but sometimes you just have to let it fly, right? 😉 This is the part that makes my mind race in a million directions. So many emotions. Fortunately (for now at least) my upcoming days are going to be so busy, I won’t have time to think about anything. Are you ready for this? 

Tomorrow: Radiation imaging which will take about 3 hours. Drinking barium is totally the new red wine pairing for Thanksging turkey, right? This will basically get the doctors the images they need to pinpoint exactly where they’ll be targeting the radiation. I’m going to get a sweet dot tattoo out of it, just like Phoebe from Friends. 

Monday: Close on our new home – insanity but we are so excited to get in there. A fresh start. I don’t think I even know how badly we need that right now. 

Tuesday: Movers move us into our new home- for the skeptics out there, I promise I didn’t plan the timing of all this. There are a lot easier, less painful ways to get out of helping!! 

Wednesday: Chemo class & labs

Thursday: Having the port inserted – I’m told it’s a mini surgery, outpatient. No part of me wants anything to do with another surgery right now but the bruises on my arms and wrists that I still have from the needle misses tell me it’s a must. Ugh. 

And then on Monday the 5th, chemo & radiation starts. 

Easy, right? 

A round of chemo is delivered on a 21 day cycle. The first three days each are chemo, then 18 days rest. Each chemo session is 7 hours long. 7 hours?! Seriously, what do you do for 7 hours?! Radiation is 6 weeks long, Monday-Friday. Radiation all in lasts about a half hour, but the radiation piece itself is only 5-10 minutes of that. On days where chemo and radiation both happen, chemo happens first. 

The other day, one of my AMs sent me a quote that was on my mind in a big way as we were going through all of these details. “Option A isn’t available, so let’s kick the shit out of Option B.” I could sit and write or talk to you for hours about how broken my heart is over our Option A. Option A, our little Hallie! So. Many. Tears. I will spend my entire life wondering what Hallie would’ve become and how she would’ve changed the world, our world & the actual world. We have a long way to go in grieving for our Option A, it’s going to take a long time, I’m convinced a life time. I do have a huge battle ahead of me though. And while I’ve already conquered step one with the surgery & it was a success in that the cancer hadn’t spread, the next parts of the battle are going to be ruthless physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. While this game plan was materializing today, I kept thinking of that quote. I can fight it and I can hate it but this is now our Option B. And while this chemo & radiation will do things physically to me that I can’t control, I know that my attitude will impact how I endure this battle emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Enter all of you too, our army of support. It’s time we kick the sh*t out of Option B. While I can’t promise to be brave or strong in every moment, I will do everything I can to kick the sh*t out of Option B so that we can be over this nightmare & can finally focus on finding those kids out there that God has already marked for us to be their parents. The first thing they’ll know about is the hero that their big sister Hallie is. 

Before any of this though, we get the chance to escape this life for a few days and spend Thanksgiving in Galena with my family. Galena is a place so special to my fam, we grew up going there every Thanksgiving. It’s the most beautiful place! Yelp Happy Joes. Well, don’t actually but I do promise their taco pizza is legendary. And the game room! No Conrad is ever too old to dominate the arcade just to earn enough tickets to buy poppers or army men with parachutes. I may be on the sidelines in the arcade this year, but I am great at feeding the tickets into the counter. #roleplayer I cannot wait to get up there tomorrow after this appointment. I plan on spending the entire time in my PJs, in front of the fire, eating lots, enjoying the company of my family and ultimately figuring out a way to still grieve for Hallie but to also start channeling all these emotions into kicking the sh*t out of Option B. No other option! 

Hallie’s Memorial Service

Yesterday was impossibly hard but incredibly beautiful.  As much as Kevin & I tried to prepare ourselves & our hearts for the day, the reality is that there’s nothing you can ever do to ready yourself for the moment you must face, head on, the loss of your child. But my oh my, was it ever perfect and beautiful. Diana, the Chaplain at Loyola who took such incredible care of us in the hospital, did such a wonderful job memorializing Hallie. Her words brought us so much comfort and we will hold on to them forever. Honor Hallie she did. 

This is the shadow box we built. Those are Hallie’s footprints & handprints. That’s an ultrasound from the day we learned she was a girl!  Beautiful flowers given to us by Diana:


During the service, everyone wrote a message remembering Hallie on a piece of ribbon and attached it to this wreath. The tears falling from my face while writing this are proof of how amazing, how needed this gift was! I think one thing I am personally really struggling with is having only footprints & handprints to remember Hallie by when she saved my life. I longed for something tangible, something meaningful and this wreath perfectly fulfilled that hole in my heart. One day we will read all the notes, but for now, we are just so thankful for this. 

I will share a portion of what I wrote. I have a very long road ahead of me in trying to understand, or if not understand, at least come to terms with why it had to be my life over Hallie’s life. We just can’t get why cancer wasn’t enough, why did we have to lose our daughter too? Why! Why am I spared and she isn’t? On Friday, a dear family friend sent my mom a verse that when she read it to me, I felt for the first time some type of hope. The verse was Esther 4:14 and it reads, “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.” It doesn’t ease the pain, but it gives me perspective and it gives me incredible purpose to not just carry on but to fight. Esther 4:14, sweet Hallie! 

After the service, we enjoyed lunch at Salernos. Get the Conrad’s & Hart’s together and you can always find laughter, even in the hardest of moments. We have 15 immediate family members between the two of us, 15! How lucky we are as that amounts to an incredible amount of love and support, every ounce of which we need. I have these moments of pure awe for our families. They have lost like us, they too know the hard fight ahead that we have to go through and yet they are working every moment of every day to make sure we are supported and our every need is met. We are constantly reminded of how lucky we are to have the families we do. And they aren’t so bad to look at either! 


A heartfelt thanks to my best friend Sheila (and Moe in spirit!) and her Mom, Mama Peyton, who joined us too. They are just as much our family and it meant the world to us to have them there. 

To all of you, our continued army of support, thank you for all your thoughts and prayers for yesterday specifically.  I keep saying it but boy do I mean it, the outpouring of love carried us through the day. 

All so impossible but so beautiful. And we are so thankful. ❤️ We love you forever & always Hallie.

Quiet Morning

I’m spending a few hours this morning unsupervised for the first time in two weeks. For those that I’m friends with on snap chat, you’re welcome. 😉 For those that I’m not, a.) don’t be offended, I’m snap chat illiterate b.) I don’t know how to add friends, so if you want in on the ridiculousness, add me! 

Physical spirits are higher this morning after a big day yesterday. I give you permission to laugh at what’s defined as “big” these days. First, I was able to fully shower on my own for the first time since surgery! Brushing my hair was so therapeutic last night. I was shaking after from exhaustion but I was so proud of myself andddd well, it just felt good. Second, Kevin and I got outside for a walk, we went two blocks total. One block to the mailbox to mail our check to reserve the elevator to move, one block back. Exciting stuff all around with the walk and one step closer to our new home.

I am spent and quite sore this morning but press on, we shall. My goals for today are to shower, take a longer walk outside (I hear it’s supposed to be in the 70s?!?), and lots of sitting time on the couch. I’m excited too as my baby brother comes home today, I haven’t seen him since before surgery.  The little things are what we celebrate right now.

Kevin & I are quite anxious for tomorrow. We are a good anxious for our appt at 9:15 & look forward to a solid progress report. After all this process has entailed, starting with that first appt with my OB, I have no shame anymore. In fact, I joked with the nurse, “why couldn’t this have been skin cancer?!” I got a good laugh on that one, probably out of pity but I’ll take it. I’ve done my best to spare details here but the one thing I can’t even hide (I’m sorry in advance for the overshare) is my excitement to be done with this catheter tomorrow! During surgery, my bladder was “nicked” and required sutures, so the catheter has helped to prevent my bladder from ever being too full, thus allowing it to heal.  I think having my freedom back will do wonders for my mental state. That, in my book, will be a huge win. 

Hallie’s service will then follow at noon, and for that we are anxious in a hundred different ways. We honestly hadn’t thought about this until the Chaplain met with us at the hospital and suggested it as being a really helpful way to grieve and to find some bit of closure for both us and our families. I’ve personally found it impossible to “plan” for. How are you supposed to know what you want included? It breaks my heart in a hundred new ways just thinking about it. Kevin, in true fashion, has been my warrior and has handled it all with Diana and for that, I’m so grateful. Our moms have also helped with the details of the day, which we’ve appreciated so much. I know for me personally I have not even come close to coming to terms with our situation. Nothing seems real. I feel the weight of the world on my heart and tomorrow is going to be mighty hard. 

We are thankful though that tomorrow offers the opportunity for us to be surrounded by all our siblings and parents for the first time all at once. One thing I’m incredibly aware of is everyone’s hearts hurt right now. Hallie’s loss is not just ours, but the difference right now for our family and friends is they’re all being strong for me and Kevin. I texted my Mom this the other night but this goes for all of our parents & siblings, “I admire your ability to be “put together” for me when I know your heart is aching as much as ours.” Hallie isn’t just a daughter lost, but a granddaughter lost and a niece lost.  We had so many exciting plans for her. We talked about Christmas mornings and how magical she’d make them. Notre Dame tailgates with Grandma & Grandpa Hart proudly showing off our newest fan. Coaching her basketball team one day. I always wanted to coach alongside my Dad. Championships for days! I’m quite disappointed that I’ll never know if all of us Conrad siblings could get kicked out of a game again. It’d probably be socially frowned upon though if it’s your kids game instead of your siblings. 😉 My mom is shaking her head and thanking God that’ll never happen. Lord knows I was going to need so much help from Anna, Erica, Kaitlyn & Brianna in raising Hallie, I’m already the worst girl! My hair has two options: straight or a pony tail. How would I ever braid her hair in the perfect way like my Mom always did for me growing up?! I do know my Mom would’ve helped throw the best birthday parties for Hallie. And fashion, oh boy! Hallie would’ve stood a chance only because of her aunts because if it were up to me, she would’ve been the cutest Nike model ever. I know for a fact (and by fact I mean personal experience) that we would’ve never had to worry about boyfriends with Hallie between Uncle Kevers, Daveo, Chris & Jeff. Uncle Jeff would’ve taught Hallie all about love at first site though. We also know she would’ve been the funniest Conrad/Hart, like her Mom, Uncle Chris (second funniest) & Aunt Brianna. My heart aches especially for Anna and Sean. The way life has unfolded the last month robbed us of the opportunity to officially ask Anna & Sean, but they’ve known for a long time they’d be Hallie’s Godparents. Anna and Sean were the Maid of Honor & Best Man in our wedding and I’m convinced the world still hasn’t seen better speeches. Anna and Sean were a no brainer choice for us. We know Hallie would’ve been the most loved & cared for kid ever by all, but especially by those two. I must stop there for now though. These thoughts bring a smile to my face, but my face is also drenched with tears. I just can’t believe we will never get to see any of that play out & we were only 4 months away from having her in our arms. 

Pray for us. Pray for us today as we are left to only wonder how our hearts will hold up tomorrow. Pray for us tomorrow and pray that we are able to remember Hallie as the incredible girl that we all know she would’ve been! ❤️

One foot in front of the other right now. 

Love,

Beef 

The Ups & Downs 

Well, yesterday was rock bottom. We shall spare you the details medically but as a whole, it was rock bottom for me physically, emotionally & mentally. At least I’m calling it that because my heart can’t imagine anything worse. On top of that, I found myself to be so angry at different moments yesterday. Angry at the pain. Angry at the slow recovery. Angry that I need help with seemingly everything. Angry that it seems like I can’t catch a break. Angry that I haven’t even had a chance to really mourn for Hallie because my brain has been so wrapped up in recovery. Angry that I’ll never get to meet Hallie. Angry that had this happened just weeks later, Hallie would be in our arms while I fight. Angry that this happened at all! Angry that I’ll never be able to have my own kids. That’s so final and so unfair. Angry that cancer stole all of this from me, from us. Cancer is the worst. Angry that I’m 30! 30! And this is our life. Angry that Kevin and I were robbed of this incredible life we were so close to having. Angry that my husband has had to step up into a role no spouse should ever have to play. Angry that our parents should be buying pack n plays & toys and instead are trying desperately to help in any and every way. Angry for our siblings that were going to be the worlds greatest aunts and uncles and are now left scrambling to take care of us & their broken hearts. Angry that I was robbed of the perfect maternity leave with my bestie Sheila, who is due 10 days after me. Our kids were supposed to be best friends like their moms! Or husband and wife, we were totally ok with that. 😉 I’m sure our husbands find glimmers of hope in money saved from all those Hobby Lobby trips that would’ve happened. Angry that this physical recovery is so hard and about the time that I will be feeling like a normal human again, I’ll be starting chemo and radiation and the fear and anxiety of what that’ll do to me physically and mentally. I’m really angry at that, what an awful stretch during the best time of the year!! Angry that as my physical pain starts to subside, I’m so much more aware of how much my heart aches. Angry that I’ll lose my hair. Like really angry about that. My red hair! 

And yet here I am 24 hours removed and all I can think about is the good that came out of yesterday. My high school best friends sent me the most beautiful orange flowers (with an orange vase, +1!) and we’ve since relived some silly high school memories via a Facebook group chat. My Yelp counterpart in Dublin who is my soul sister, KP, sent me the most beautiful necklace that I’m already wearing. It reads “strength” on one side & “courage” on the other. I chose yesterday to wear the courage side showing, Lord knows I needed some of that. My moms work surprised her with a donation that we are putting towards Hallie’s memorial on Friday. I got a few texts of encouragement from people near & far that I swore they just knew I needed to hear their words in that moment. And this was all just yesterday!  There are a thousand other acts that you’ve done for me that I haven’t mentioned here but I’m so thankful for. And on top of all that, I know there are countless prayers being said by you all that I will never physically hear, but I feel the impact of it all. My attitude today is proof of that! I so mean it when I say that these acts are carrying me through the most difficult moments. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Rock bottom, as awful as it is in the moment, always allows you the opportunity to start your climb back up. Today brought that. Kevin was able to get to work today for a few hours and my Mom came to babysit again. Hallmark Christmas movies are good for the soul, embrace the cheesy! Big news is that she was able to get me out of the house for the first time, we took a short walk outside!  Fresh air felt so amazing, I can’t believe this weather and it’s November. She’ll kill me for posting this pic but I’m the one that looks a little haphazard so I must as it’s a big milestone in this journey. 


We also spent some time today building a shadow box for Hallie’s memorial. I will be sure to share more on that after the service on Friday. There are a million emotions I feel. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why the extent to which we can memorialize our daughters life is her sweet hand prints, foot prints & ultrasound pictures. I have a hard time coming to grips with the finality of this when we had so many hopes and dreams for this little girl. It sure just doesn’t feel real. The thought of chicken and lasagna still makes me cringe so I must be pregnant still, right?! My heart just isn’t ready to go there yet, so for today I will be thankful that we have those sweet footprints & handprints and for the beauty of this shadow box that’s Hallies life. I promise it will be proudly shown for all to see in our new home!

Keep prayin’ for us. My goal for tomorrow and Thursday is to get out for a few walks since Friday will be a physically demanding day with my doctors appt & the service. I think I made it a block today, so if you need a quick jaunt, let me know! Hope to also keep my mind busy. Friday is going to be so, so hard. I write this one through so many tears, but hope abounds that this will get better, Hallie’s life is more than a shadow box and there is a greater purpose to it all. 

Love you all,

Beef 

 

The Best Package Yet!

Alright guys, so many of you have sent us incredible things and while I’m not trying to hurt any feelings, I just HAVE to share the best thing we’ve gotten yet! I promise you’ll agree!! 

My sisters best friend Alex, who has always been like a little sister to me, teaches kindergarten in St. Charles. We got a package last night filled with the most adorable notes from all her kids! I wish I could share them all but here’s a few. I’m so impressed & they know me so well!!








And my favorite… 

Tell me these don’t make your heart absolutely melt!! ❤️❤️ Go Beef Go! 

Thank you so much Alex & please pass along a HUGE thanks to your kiddos, loved these so much…and let them know we will beat cancer!! 

Saturday 

Happy weekend all. It’s finally chilly outside, that’ll help get everyone in the holiday spirit! I’m also told 93.9 flipped the switch on their Christmas music, motivation to get in the car for a ride this week. I can feel Sheila cringing while reading this, saying Thanksgiving first Beef, Thanksgiving first. 

Life is, well, really hard right now. Recovery continues to be slow and in turn, incredibly frustrating. No task is easy. Anything I do, hurts. Everything I fail to do physically bums me out and makes me react in ways I don’t anticipate. We wake up every morning hoping to turn the corner, but it hasn’t happened yet. At times I don’t know if the tears are from the physical pain, the ache in my heart or the pure frustration of all this happening at once. In my really dark moments I think about all of this physical recovery happening right now just to start chemo and radiation in December and the havoc that it is going to wreak on my body. When I’m in those moments, it all just feels so unfair. I was joking with my sister though that if this blog ever gets too dark, find me a great therapist on Yelp. 🙂

There are bright moments though that keep me going, I promise. Yesterday my mom came and babysat me for a bit. Snuggling with your Mama is sometimes all you need in life, no matter how old you are. If you haven’t seen the movie While You Were Sleeping, watch it on Netflix. Guaranteed laughs. The caps, $600 bucks a tooth! 

Kevin also came home yesterday with Christmas candles for our room. Those coupled with all the beautiful flowers sure help! Kevin himself is an incredible bright spot. Here he is, grieving for his daughter, watching his wife go through all of this and yet he doesn’t skip a beat. Cleaning, laundry, picking me up (literally), meds, he is carrying us through this. He got mad at me because one night I chose to lay in pain so that I didn’t have to wake him up again for meds. Next time you pray for me or feel the urge to do something nice for me, my ask is that you do it for him instead! We were supposed to be in San Antonio today for the Notre Dame Shamrock Series and instead, he’s laying in bed with me while we binge watch Fixer Upper. There’s no version of life where we could’ve imagined having to endure this, but I’ve always believed that tough times show true colors and I’m lucky he’s my husband.

Long before any of this happened, Kevin and I decided to make the move to the ‘burbs to raise our family. In early October we bought an amazing home in Downers Grove – recently flipped, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a huge deck for entertaining & fenced in back yard (do you hear the dogs barking in excitement?), an updated kitchen, and so much space for hosting. We spent weekends furniture shopping. Our dining room table is amazing. We bought Christmas decorations in anticipation of being able to host for the holidays. Our poor neighbors, as Kevin drew up grand plans of Clark-Griswold-type-exterior-illumination. Welcome to the neighborhood! We spent nights pintresting nursery ideas. I still laugh at what Kevin liked. Think jungles, think very busy. I don’t think he realized he’d be the one doing all the work! 

After I was diagnosed our realtor (who has been amazing) asked if we wanted to keep the home. We talked a lot about it. Do we need to move to the ‘burbs now that it’s just us 2? Would it be impossibly hard to walk past the room that was supposed to be our nursery?  Or would it be motivating through all the bad to know that we already have the home of our dreams for when we beat this and we are ready to adopt? We kept coming back to how much we loved the home, our home. We already had so many plans for it and we didn’t want to walk away from that. We didn’t want to walk away from the hope of a family one day. We also just knew this home is a blessing in terms of timing and our needs in this recovery, proximity to the hospital for treatments, etc. We decided to stay the course and I’m so glad we did. My brother put it best that it offers a new beginning amidst impossible times. 

We were officially cleared to close yesterday, so that’s another bright spot. Why not throw a move into the mix right now! We close the 28th and movers come on the 29th. In the three weeks between the diagnosis and surgery, we spent a lot of time packing our place. It was oddly therapeutic. There are going to be a lot of emotions when we move but for now I’m focusing on how much I can’t wait for more space while recovering, the fire place & watching Christmas movies and lots of parking for all our visitors. Once we put all of this past us, we can’t wait to have you over for a really big, therapeutic glass of wine. 

Enjoy your weekend and thank you for all the continued prayers. Thank you a thousand times.

All our love,

Beef & Kevin

Pathology Results

Big win for us! Dr. Potkul called yesterday after their tumor board, pathology from the surgery confirmed that the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere in my body. That is one mighty step forward in our quest to be cured! 

Being home has been great for our spirits. We are hesitant to start thanking people publicly on here as we don’t want to leave anyone out but we would be remiss in not saying two huge thanks to: 1.) my mom & sister for stocking our fridge and pantry when we got home from the hospital and doing all our laundry and 2.) to both our Yelp & CDW families that have provided daily meals and so much food. It has been so helpful. Much more than food though, we have been so cared for & so supported by both of our work families since day one of this nightmare. We are very aware that not every company is supportive through times like these so we are eternally grateful for Yelp & CDW! 

The pain and thus sleep have been a roller coaster. The TAP blockers were to last around 72 hours, which would be through today. I’m admittedly pretty nervous about what that could mean pain wise and would appreciate prayers for continued healing. Doing my best to walk and sit as much as I can handle for my muscles sake, but that capability comes and goes. Patience is a hard, hard virtue when it comes to pain and healing. 

Today marks one week out from surgery. Our post op appt is scheduled for next Friday at the cancer center. Feels so far away, praying that time passes quickly and we make huge strides in the recovery by then. I’m told this is ultimately a six week healing process but at week two, I should be feeling significant improvement. 

One day at a time. Love you all! 

Beef & Kevin

Home 💜


Step one of the battle is behind us. We are home today with prescriptions galore, a deep appreciation for our medical team & most of all, heavy but grateful hearts. 

Grateful hearts because of our army, all of you. There are no words we can use to describe how much your love has carried us through this week. The prayers, the flowers, the messages, the texts, the books, the meals, the cards, we’ve read them all and they seem to always come in the moments when we need them the most. We are so grateful for all of you and we love you so much. 

We promised we would write more about our baby when we were ready. I realize now that ‘ready’ wasn’t the right word because who is ever ‘ready’ for something like this. Our hearts ached as we walked out as two, after going in as three. Even through all the tears and heartache, we absolutely know that we want all of you to know our little one and we want you all to talk about and remember her like we do. It may be met with tears but at least it guarantees that this little miracle baby who saved my life, our lives, will never be forgotten. 

World, meet our daughter, Hallie Hope Hart and her beautiful, tiny, most perfect little footprints. We picked out the name Hallie long before any of this happened and we knew Hope was a perfect middle name after the diagnosis.


Hallie will forever be a big piece of our hearts. The ache of her being gone is so real and so heavy right now. We understand it will be very hard for a long time and that the ache will never go away fully but we find comfort in knowing that we will see her again one day. We wondered from day one of being pregnant so many things. Would she have red hair like me or those beautiful blue eyes like her Dad? We were secretly hoping for not both though because imagine the sunburns! Which sense of humor would she inherit? Would she look like one of us or a mix of us? Would she be Team Toews or Team Paisley as her vote would be the tie breaker? We knew one thing though, she was going be a shooter like her Mom after showing off impressive form in one of our ultrasounds. It did lead us to wonder though if she’d ever play defense unlike her Mom. There is so much we will never know about our daughter here on earth and our hearts are broken in ways we can’t describe knowing that. 

We’d be lying if we said anything other than we hate so much everything that has happened these past three weeks. We hate every moment that we’ve been robbed of with our daughter because of this awful cancer. We know there will be many moments (probably even stretches of days and weeks) where the hurt will be unbearable but we promise to take care of ourselves while leaning heavily on all of you, our army of support as we tackle each day. 

We can tell you this though, more than any of the sadness or anger that we feel, we feel this incredible want and need to be strong for our little Hallie. God sent her to save our lives. She did her part and we want her to know we will do our part in her honor and in her memory. We will fight the good fight and will endure all the hardships coming our way (see ya later hair) just to know we made her proud. We are so thankful we got to be her parents, if only for 19 weeks here on earth. 

Please don’t be afraid to talk about Hallie with us!  We will all need to be #halliestrong with the challenges ahead of us, but she is all we need to know that no matter how bad it gets, we are all going to come out of this ok. 

We will be celebrating Hallie’s life with a private memorial service next week with our immediate families after I get a little more medical clearance from the surgery. You can add strength for that to our list of prayer requests. 

With tears in our eyes & so much love in our hearts, we thank you all again for your support on this impossible ride. 

Kevin, Beef & our daughter Hallie 💜