Posts in k. bye cancer
Why I Shaved My Head

We all cry in the shower. If you don’t, well, you have another safe place I’m sure of it. Or, you’re lying. And, I couldn’t imagine spending more than one shower crying because another clump of hair was falling out on cancer’s terms - and not mine. Add on weeks of picking up hair all over the house, and I’m not on board for those kind of shenanigans. That’s a hard unsubscribe for me.

Cancer showed up uninvited, so I’m not giving it any wiggle room to run the show. That seems rude, honestly.

So, I took charge. Waiting for it to fall piece by piece was too much. Why would I do that to myself?

The day before my first day of chemo, I shaved my head.

My best friend who has been my colorist, stylist, and general stylist since we were 15 years old, took charge and found a few options online to send my hair for either a full wig or a halo wig based on how much hair we’d collect, sat me down, and shaved my head.

It’s just hair. it’s fine.

And, I did it my way.

The best part? Looking like GI Jane for a few weeks.

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Girl

We’re living the life music row writes about.

The pull yourself up by your bootstraps, sit on your Ws, tighten your phantom topknot kinda life.

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The life that makes your great grand babies name a blue-steel-eyed heir after you.

The life that chooses fm to streaming, black to frap, and currier to bird chirps.

The life that says k bye to easy because living the right side of an f5 is the only way the west is ever won.

Hold tight, girl, we have 15 go rounds left. And, I’d say it’s about to get a little western.


Photo, always and forever, by Stacy Pearce Creative.

I'm not Sampson

My powers are not held safe within my long, luscious locks. I am not a better human because I rack up Ulta points on expensive shampoos or deep condition on a religious schedule. I didn’t wear pink on Wednesdays, or earn a promotion, or land a new client, or make new friends because of my naturally-colored, level 4 beach waves. They’re not responsible for reeling in my biggest catch, nor the reason he dropped the L word barely an hour after saying k bye to the friend zone. They’re not what drove me to hike a Colorado trail while fighting a brutal fever (that was a dumb choice - no regrets) or to launch a business. They’re not the reason I get to be a mom, or a wife, or a business owner, or rival Dorthy Zbornak’s clap backs.

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They’re not the reason for any of it, but some days my locks feel like my superhero cape.

So today we do what’s scary. Like jumping out of a plane knowing I’m terrified of heights.

Today, I take back a bit of control and do this on my own terms.

Today, we see if my head is as round and perfect at Sweet baby Elsie James’.

Goodbye, locks. See you on the cancer-free side.

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#KByeCancer: The Good News

38 week baby checkup.
Ultrasound.
Biopsy.
Genetic testing.
C-section.
NEW BABY!
PET scan.
Medical oncology meeting.
Port pre-op.
Chemo class.
MRI.
Mammogram.
Ultrasound.
Dentist.
Port surgery.
Lymph node biopsy.
Ovary shot.
MUGA heart scan.
1:1 Chemo consult.
2-week postpartum appt.

A perfect storm of pregnancy and breast cancer cumulated in a single moment that replays in my head a million times a day. As a first time mom, how do you know what’s normal and what’s not as you gear up to breastfeed? You don’t. You have no idea.

Starting tomorrow, I'm sharing my journey from discovery to diagnosis in a multi-part series.

But, we're starting with the end of this very real and rough few weeks first. I shared this video with family and close friends yesterday, and you, prayer warriors, deserve to see it, too. It's unedited. Not pretty. But, real.

Your prayers are working. Here's the proof.

Oh, you're sisters?

There’s a healthy gap between ‘86 and ‘95, which is probably the leading factor behind the comment we’ve received more times than we can count. She’s the blonde, blue eyes, and fair skin to my brunette locks, chocolate eyes, and olive skin, but our sister status has never been more evident than in these two photos.

Tori and Truman Chafin.  Photo by Stacy Pearce Creative.

Tori and Truman Chafin. Photo by Stacy Pearce Creative.

Hanna Runner shared the gallery from Elsie’s day 1 and I laughed out loud because Stacy Pearce Creative captured a nearly similar one of Tori on Truman’s day 1.

It would appear, to more than just us, that we have a lot more in common than things we don’t.

Brooke Clay Taylor and Elsie Taylor.  Photo by Hanna Runne r.

Brooke Clay Taylor and Elsie Taylor. Photo by Hanna Runner.

I’m your only sister.
— Tori, since she was old enough to talk

My favorite little sister could teach a clinic on how to bring humor into sucky situations.

She’s the sister who sends inappropriate memes in the 2 o’clocks. The sister who sends snap after snap of your baby nephew to distract you. The sister whose comedic timing cannot be matched.

We all needed that person.

Cancer or not.

I called her Sasquatch

As my wombmate, she never stopped moving. Her feet lived in my lungs. I knew she was there, but that didn’t make it - her - feel real.

It just seemed too good to be true, you know? How could I be so lucky to finally be in this season? To grow a tiny human? To wonder if he – or she – would have my nose, or his eyes, or my attitude, or his patience? For whatever reason, I couldn’t allow myself to be all in. It seemed like there was a catch.

Now that she’s here she seems even more like a baby Sasquatch.

Mythical, even.

She’s the quiet, illusive miracle in the middle of a chaotic world.

I don’t care about any catch. Or the what ifs. Because anyway you slice ‘em, you remind me I was close to losing this.

But I haven’t lost anything — I’ve gained everything.

And I’m all in.

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Dear Dad
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Today would have been your 52nd birthday. Instead, 26 years ago you tapped out on your battle with colon cancer.

And, today, on Elsie’s due date - your birthday - I hold my newborn baby knowing I have cancer in my body.

Damn.

I get it now.

I get your heartbreak.

Your anger.

The “please don’t get this from me” prayers.

I get it.

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I get the good days mixed in with the bad ones.

I get the staying in the moments for just a little bit longer.

I get it.

And I’m sorry you had to go through this.

I’m sorry you have to watch me go through this.

I’m sorry anyone has to go through this.

I'm just … I just … I get it.

Cancer Week One: All the Tests

FINALS WEEK — It’s like Oprah is handing out tests for everyone. You get a PET scan! You get a biopsy!
And today: You get a MRI! You get a mammogram!

At least I don’t have to walk across campus. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Damon and Elsie dropped me off at the front door and now they’re off on wolf pack adventures for the next few hours. I’d like to bet they’re at Bass Pro, or maybe Dicks Sporting Goods. But, let’s get real, there’s a high probability they’re in the parking lot and Elsie is taking a nap on his chest.


#KByeCancer
#MyHusbandIsASuperhero

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The Brave Team
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HERD, TRIBE, SQUAD — it doesn’t matter what you call your people as long as you have them.

Kiah Twisselman [aka Burley and Barley 🌱] found inspiration in my post about bravery and turned it into this incredible watercolor.

It’s swoon-worthy, really. This is how I feel. I’ve got the guy I first made out with in a pasture the night before senior skip day at my side (true story), my babe in my arms, and all the women who have walked this journey, those who pray for us, those who cheer for us, and those who love us standing behind me.

I admire creativity simply because it’s a small glimpse into someone’s ability to see a situation or obstacle from a unique perspective.

It’s not exclusive to artists or musicians, and it’s up for grabs for anyone who wants it.

Thank you for this, Kiah. It’s everything. 🧡

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An Open Letter to my Sweet New Baby

SWEET BABY ELSIE JAMES — Today you came along to doctors appointments because your mama has cancer, and to be frank: that sucks. You’re already a baby warrior and that not only makes me tremendously heart broken, but also stupendously proud.

Life is equal-opportunity when it comes to heartbreak or illness. It doesn’t discriminate when it comes to things like cancer, which means bad things happen to good people just the same as good things happen to bad people.

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So we live life knowing we’re not entitled to easy. It affords us the opportunity to appreciate the all the good moments - regardless of grandeur - because we know life is lived in the leading.

It’s between the lines the good stuff happens. Like a first family outing between oncology appointments. Or high-fiving because your new pediatrician’s office was able to work your appointment around my port surgery so I can go, too.

It would be easy to be grateful the only thing you’ll know about this season will be from pictures and stories, but I almost wish you would remember. Remember that we’ll grow our hair out together. Remember that your mama fought to change your diapers and was selfish about midnight feedings.
Because cancer or not, we’re already living a life worth fighting for.

And it’s buried deep in the leading.

Logistics
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I’m good at ‘em. I’ve built a career on ‘em. This week demands ‘em.

Looks like we’ll have a grand total of 8 appointments this week. 💪🏼 We clocked a week of maternity leave, and now it’s time to charge head first into #momlife, that work #hustle, and #kbyecancer.

I hear you friends. I hear all of your concerns. I hear your worries. I hear your advice.

And I need you to hear me. Two Thursdays ago I took my shirt off in a doctors appointment and said I’m not leaving until you feel this. My voice did not shake. I was not scared. I was my own advocate.

I know my limits. I can do this. My team says I can. So y’all are going to have to let me. And cheer for me.

In return, I cross my heart and kiss my elbow I will tap out on the hard days. I will make time to rest. I will be intentional. And measured. And, most of all, strategic.

Because my intern made me promise.

p.s. @taysha_r giving me all the feels with Elsie’s new bows.

That makes me brave.

TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY — I bought the finishing touches for our surprise-gender babe’s nursery. I spent way too many minutes in the Target office supplies aisle. I ate Hideaway Pizza with my mom and aunt, who flew in from Indiana. I squeezed in a phone call with one of my besties. I laughed until I cried because of a baby sign language video a friend list slid in my DMs.

And Damon Cody Taylor kept my inbox full of treasures like this photo. Just look at them. Those are my people! That girl is going to be wild, and funny, and - Lord help me - be as quick witted as Dorthy Zbornak. And that man is going to keep me rollin’ my eyes until I’m 97.

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Oh, and I had a PET scan and met my medical oncologist. I learned my schedule for chemo. And learned I have at least six more appointments this week.

Here’s the deal. I’m not brave because I’m a superhero. I’m brave because so many tremendous women have walked this path before me. I’m brave because I am part of a tribe of the most amazing humans. I’m brave because with every message, text, email, smoke signal, snail mail, et al you guys are filling me up with courage.

I’m brave because in a not so great season a few years ago I prayed a big prayer, “if you want me to stay, I’ll stay. I will do everything in my power to continue fighting for this relationship. But, if you say this isn’t my story anymore, that I don’t have to do *this* every day knowing I’ll never be a mom or be part of a healthy relationship, I will not pause. I will not waver. I will trust You completely. And I will leave.” And He answered. And I left. Because He has me.

Boy howdy, hasn’t this week shown that He has me?

That makes me brave.

Wildlife Baby

So many things had to align perfectly so that in this season, we’ve got this guy.

The guy who can make me laugh so hard my c-section stitches might pop. Who said, “just cry,” when I hadn’t even been able to say the words “dr frame called. it’s cancer.” Who says “move over” and climbs in the hospital shower to remove my c-section bandages. True story. I’ll for sure blog about that.

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How insane is it that after he made his tour through Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, and Nebraska building his career and living the wildlife dream ... and I made my tour through North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, with stints in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Arizona ... we unknowingly moved back to Oklahoma only weeks apart. Wild. Just wild.

Day one of #kbyecancer means I’m spending 24 hours away from Elsie James, who sacrificed her cushy womb space and joined the world early so I could spend this week getting a PET scan, meeting my medical oncologist, a mammogram, et al.

Today, day one - and her day seven, he’s got her. And me.

And she, friends, is already on the job as the cutest little refuge intern.

Cow Dog Molly Accepts New Baby
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There’s something special about the moment your ride-or-die ranch dog finally admits the new baby isn’t leaving.

She’s been my main girl since 2007.

Through undergrad, a ride in the OSU homecoming parade, graduate school, love, heartbreak, calling home to five states, six jobs, adventuring in 19 states, launching a business, saying yes to Damon Cody Taylor... she’s been there.

Through Whitney ballads, old and new Jo Bro pop, Conway heartbreaks, Maren anthems, and Jason Isbell love songs, she’s been riding shotgun.

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Through learning through failing, she taught me think of anything other than myself in my twenties.

She’s been there for every tear, every laugh, every milestone for 12 years.

And, now we’re adding two more.

She’s my favorite golden girl. And I can’t imagine doing this week without her.

Thank Goodness for Community

It’s no shocker we’re the new kids on the block in our new corner of the world. As newlyweds we’ve really stuck to home projects (the new deck is tremendous, btw), trips home to our hometown of Perkins (2.5 hours away), and I travel quite a bit for work. That hasn’t left a lot of opportunity to meet anyone, let alone find a community.

And now we have a brand new baby. and ... #kbyecancer, which is going to come with so many obstacles it’s overwhelming.

And would you believe all the creative, inspiring, talented locals who I’ve stumbled across on Instagram, but been too nervous to send an awkward IG DM to, were also sort of, kind of doing the same to me?

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As I’ve lived in various big cities - OKC, Charlotte, Austin, Nashville - I’ve learned we can’t thrive without community. I know that, yet, I’ve been too nervous to reach out because this is our forever place, and I guess I just didn’t want to mess it up. Hi, Brooke here. Perpetually an awkward middle schooler.

Thank goodness they’re braver than I am. They pressed send while I was busy overthinking and leaving my messages in draft.

In the midst of chaos this week they found me. Us. And they reeled us in.

And just like that, four-day-old Elsie James had her first dinner invite. I mean, she slept through the entire thing, but she looked real cute in that new bow.

Would you believe there is a whole community ready and willing to not only pray for us and bring us meals, but they’ve also offered to help with things like letting our dogs out when we’re at doctors appointments and treatments? I don’t even know them — YET — but I know they’re our people.

P.S. If you’re one of those people, hi! I’m glad we’re new friends. Can’t wait to meet you. Also, @cowdogmolly is a bit extra. Prepare yourself for puppy snuggles. (Spoiler: she’s a 12 yo puppy)

Dear future tiny human
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A very good friend (to be honest, I could use pages and pages alone to share how incredible of a human she is) reminded me that I wrote the following words a while back, and it’s wild they’ve never been more true.
Pray without ceasing, friends. He hears them - every single one.

Dear future tiny human,

Today I’m thinking about you. I’m walking through the hardest day of my life - to date - because I want to be your mom. I want to watch your first steps and hear your big, boisterous giggle. I want to wipe your tears and kiss your scrapes. I love you - the idea of you - so much that sometimes it literally feels like the oxygen has left the room.

I want the chance to love you. To love your dad. To grow old with him and laugh at his stupid jokes. Because he’ll make us laugh every single day. And he’d rather grow children than a perfectly manicured lawn. And he’ll show up to the important things. Like pizza Fridays and school plays.

He’ll probably be stubborn, which is who you’re going to get it from. But, he’ll be kind. And fiercely loyal.

He’s going to be good to us, kid. And we’re going to be good to him. He’s going to be easy to love because he’s right for us. We’re his people. And he’s ours.

I had no way of knowing that note would be for my sweet Elsie, or that man would be Damon. But He knew. He always knew.

Mom Life: My Greatest Adventure
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We made our first errands run for premie clothes. I cheered for a diaper. I rocked my baby on the back porch.

And I called a sweet cancer survivor and asked, “how am I going to do this?” The #KByeCancer journey begins Monday with a PET scan, which I can safely get since Elsie is no longer my wombmate. It involves radiation, which means I’ll spend my first 24 hours away from my girl.

And I think that’s when it finally hit me.

I’ve seen the sun set in more countries than most. I’ve hiked, and kayaked, and drank craft beers at mountain tops. I’ve danced on a table in Argentina, and yelled “freeeedoommm” atop the William Wallace monument in Scotland.

I’ve caught pike in Canada, hopped last minute flights to visit friends, and moved to cities before visiting.

And, the truth is, my greatest adventure is roughly 6 pounds and is covered in rainbows and unicorns.

Breast Cancer: Week One
Elsie James Taylor: Two days New

Elsie James Taylor: Two days New

While words are my crutch, they fail me today. I cannot truly put into words how grateful we are for the incredible support we’ve received in the past three days. Thank you. Thank you to every single person who has shared our story, prayed for our family, or shared words of encouragement. To put it mildly, we’re feeling all of the Care Bears - all at the same time.

We’re home and over-the-moon to be knee deep in diapers, bottles, and baby snuggles. And, as it turns out, our tiny little baby needs premie clothes. Who would have thought the babe I knicknamed Sasquatch in the womb would be so tiny?

The journey to kicking cancer where it counts officially begins Monday.
Until then, we will read every one of your messages and enjoy this time of new parenthood. It’s going to take me a bit to catch up, but I will read them all - promise.

And, last thing. They say God works in mysterious ways, and goodness don’t I know it. We decided not to learn the sex of our baby. Yes, I’m serious. I can’t think of anything better than learning Elsie was Elsie on the day I needed it most. The best surprise. And, goodness if she’s not perfect.

I found out I have breast cancer the same day I had my first baby

Welcome to the world, Elsie James Taylor.

Monday, July 22 
02:04 pm 
6 lbs, 2 oz 
19.25 inches

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We are so proud to be your parents. Your dad has been practicing his dad jokes and perfecting his cargo shorts wardrobe since about 1998, and I’ve prayed - and dreamed - for this day, the day I would swoon at your chipmunk cheeks and say, “hi babe, I’m your mama.” It’s possible you’ll never comprehend just how much, and how long I’ve loved the idea of you, and that’s okay. It’s as though every obstacle, tear, and prayer has faded into the background.

Because you’re here. 
You’re mine. 
You’re ours.

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Yesterday was good. Because He is good. All the time.

With that, you may want to sit down.

With great pause we share, family and friends, our greatest day was also the start of a very difficult season. In a rather quick turn of events, yesterday began with a call from a breast health surgeon, who I first met Friday, reporting the results of a breast tissue biopsy: breast cancer. After tremendous collaboration between my OB and new oncology surgeon, we immediately hopped in the Jeep for a strategy meeting. As we made our hour plus drive to Tulsa, we were rerouted to the hospital where I was immediately prepped for a c-section.

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You see, Elsie was tracking at 38 weeks, 3 days, and her joining the world meant we could expedite tests to confirm the status of the cancer and we can quickly proceed with a fight fit for a brand new mama bear.

So on our very best day, it was also one of our scariest.

But, I’m going to level with you.

I’m prepared. I feel like I’ve been training for this since I was 6 years old.

I’m mad. I’ve been praying for this day my entire life. To be a mom. To be supported by my very favorite human. To be still and enjoy motherhood.

I am a new mom first, cancer patient second. Allow me this.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the prayers, messages, and continued support. You have no idea how wrapped in love we already feel. You’re giving us the strength we need to go into battle.

This is all we know. We’re in uncharted territory, and we’re thankful for your grace as we navigate the next few hours, days, weeks.

We’ll update you as we’re able. Cross our hearts and kiss our elbows.

xo,

Brooke, Damon, and brand new baby Elsie James.

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