The Kelly Haley 2016 Update
I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since the last Happy Smackah. It feels like just yesterday I was wringing the water out of my drenched boxer briefs, and throwing my water-logged, mud-filled, old tennis shoes in the trash. Oh, and smiling from ear to ear as I did so. It was such an inspiring, uplifting, heart-warming feeling to see how many people braved the elements – on arguably the worst Longmont spring morning in my memory – to come and support Kelly and our family. We were amazed as people continued to signup and we watched the Smackah Meter climb, but then when most of those who signed up actually showed up that soggy Saturday morning we were really in disbelief. I will never be able to put in to words, or say thank you enough times, to convey what the support of family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers meant to us. It really gave us the shot in the arm we needed to get over the fact that Kelly actually had cancer, and figure out how (with the support of so many) we were going to fight it.
Kelly was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer that metastasized to her liver and lungs on February 4th 2015. The kick in the gut I felt when I got her simple text “it’s cancer come home” is something I hope no one ever has to feel. It turns out there are a lot of moments like that when your soul mate has cancer. Like when you hear unexpectedly that the first chemotherapy regimen that your wife is on isn’t working and that she has new tumors in her lungs. Or, when the second chemotherapy regimen stops working and the tumors in her lungs start to grow again. And when you realize that the third chemotherapy regimen (the one she is on now) probably isn’t working either, I believe you have a choice. You can go to the dark, “why did this happen to me” place. Or you can stay positive, keep smiling, and like a quote I saw awhile back, “plan your life like you will live forever and live your life like you will die the next day.”
That is what we have tried to do over the last 12 months. Yes, Kelly just started her 23rd round of chemotherapy, and that has meant a lot of sleepy, nauseous and overall crappy days – but around those days we have squeezed in a lot of fun. We stayed with friends at their Mountain house for a long weekend. Went to Mexico for a week of relaxation and a family wedding. We went to San Francisco to explore the city and then go to the Super Bowl. We celebrated Kelly’s sisters wedding with extended family in Steamboat. Around those big events, we have had great dinners, parties, get-togethers and an occasional night out with great friends and family. Additionally friends and family have traveled into town from near and far to say hello and just hang out with us. We have celebrated holidays that we may have taken for granted with new vigor. We have gone to concerts and sporting events and restaurants that we have always wanted to try. We did more, saw more and experienced more in the last year than we had in the previous few years combined. For this we are extremely grateful.
Around all of these things Kelly has tried to keep things as normal as possible for our kids. She has made it a point to be at all of their sporting events, even if that means extra pain pills, or making a trip to the public restroom to throw up. She has made it to all the school performances and conferences even if that means showing up wearing a mask and the chemo pump. She is still able to volunteer in the kids classrooms most weeks. She amazes me with her strength and fortitude, it is inspiring to watch. And while a lot has changed, as evidenced by Emmy’s “cancer sucks” video, we strive everyday to keep everything somewhat normal for John, Colin and Emerson. I have been blessed to work for a fantastic company that said “tell us what you need and we will make it happen.” It has allowed me to be home for school pickup and drop-off almost every day and although it seems trivial it has meant so much to me and I feel like really kept that sense of “normal” for the kids and is something for which I will be forever grateful.
Our family and friends have been amazing, and more supportive than I would have ever dreamed. They have picked up and dropped off kids, watched the kids, played with the kids and taken them on adventures. They have kept us company at chemo, taken Kelly to the doctor, made us over a hundred meals, and kept the house abloom with flowers. They have helped secure gifts, decorate and cook for holidays and birthdays. They have provided gifts, whether material, of time or of service. Kelly had gotten massages, our laundry has been done, and sometimes it seems to never snow on my driveway/walk while my neighbors have several inches. The community has supported us to such an amazing degree and we are so incredibly thankful.
I have a “friend” who’s mottos is “Live your life like it’s going to be a long one, because it just might, and then you’ll be glad you did.”
That mantra has gotten us through some of the tougher days and moments, but has inspired us to create great days and moments of pure joy that we never want to forget.
We are currently searching, and hoping to find a good clinical trial option. We hope that we will help find the drugs that will eventually help cure this awful cancer, not only for ourselves but for all those who face cancer worldwide. In the mean time we plan to have another year of joyful moments, long weekends and more flag football games than we can count.
Please come to the Smackah and support Frank and his family, just like you supported Kelly and I and our family. Whether you know Frank or not, I know from experience that he and his family will appreciate your support today, tomorrow and for years into the future.