Saturday, July 31, 2010


Kelley says............

Well, when everyone told me who had been through chemo before that I would have to make myself eat I just assumed they meant because I would be feeling too nauseated to eat. So, when I had my first treatment I was hardly nauseous at all and didn't have a hard time eating at all. I had cravings like I was pregnant and everything I craved was junk food. The bad taste in my mouth was bad but not too bad. As a matter of fact, if I ate something it actually gave me some relief from the bad taste.

This second round has been much different. From the very first day of my second treatment the taste in my mouth has been horrible!! Words can't even describe it. I have been a lot more queasy this time and having to take a lot of nausea medicine. The only thing I can eat that tastes normal is Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, Ice Cream and Biscuits and Gravy. All of which I absolutely love but I am feeling so unhealthy and gaining so much weight!! And the bad taste is always there. Not one thing I drink tastes good and I have tried everything! So yeah, the bad taste is just so yuck. I keep trying to remember that I am half-way done with all of this but it still seems so far away. I can't imagine having this awful taste in my mouth all the way until September!!

So my prayer requests are that this bad taste would go away and that I will NEVER again have to be stuck more than one time for blood or an IV EVER, EVER, EVER!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bad Hair Days

Kelley says......

Well, bad hair days have a whole new meaning to me now. I guess every day is a bad hair day since I don't have any! That would be every woman's worst nightmare I guess, to wake up and look in the mirror and not have any hair. 

I don't know how many of you scrapbook or make cards but when I am working on either it really drives me crazy during the creating process. Let's say I am about to work on a scrapbook page. I get all the pictures out that I want to put on that page. Then, I lay them out a million different ways and try to decide what paper I want to use. Then I will try to figure out what layout I am thinking about using. Once I get this part figured out, that is only the beginning!! Then I have to decide how to bring it all together which is definitely the most frustrating part for me. Just something about it won't look right. I'll play around with it over and over and then suddenly I'll think of just the right added touches to put on it that makes it look just perfect and I love it!!

It is kind of like getting ready for a special date. You take your shower, put on your pretty lotion, put on your make-up, fix your hair real nice, spray on your favorite perfume and get dressed. When you look in the mirror you just don't look right, something is missing. You realize you have forgotten to put on any jewelry and when you put it on, it adds just the touch you were looking for and you feel amazing. I have been longing for that feeling. Only the finishing touch for me now is a scarf. Oh how I wish it was fixing my hair. I am great at fixing my hair and love doing it. It used to take me a long time to blow dry, curl or flat iron my hair but I never, ever complained about it. I really enjoyed it.

I just don't feel complete. Yesterday was just a sad day for me. I don't say any of this for anyone to feel sorry for me in ANY way whatsoever. I just always want to be real with how I am feeling so when women who come to my blog in the future who are going through or are about to go through this journey, they can get a real glimpse into what it is truly like. I am okay without having my hair. I guess as okay as anyone can be. I mean, it just is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it but choose the attitude I have about it. I refuse to sit around and feel sorry for myself. But at the most random times I see myself in a reflection and it bothers me. For some reason, when I see a glimpse of myself on accident it is just a reminder of what I am going through and how it still sometimes feels like a dream that I so wish I could awaken from. 

I want to feel pretty again. I know my hair doesn't define me so please don't take any of this wrong. This is just how I am feeling at this moment. I am a confident person the majority of the time! Anyway, it just amazes me how we get attached to things that are just "things". Hair will come back, my energy will come back, my normal taste buds will come back, heck....I'm even gonna get my boobs back. I've lost things that have no chance of ever, ever returning to me. So, I guess I will be thankful for the fact that a lot of what I have lost will return. And one thing I know for sure is that money can't buy the wisdom I have gained from this experience.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Think Bald is Beautiful!

Deryl says......Kelley had her second round of chemo on Friday. It was a little rough because they had to stick her more than once to draw her blood and to put her IV in. To top it off I had to leave for work before she was done with chemo which stressed me out some. But it all wound up being okay. Kelley got tired more quickly this time and is having more hot flashes than before but other than that it has been good.
As you know Kelley shaved her hair off before it had a chance to fall out. Well it started falling out more this past week and and left her head kind of splotchy with bald spots. You could just pull the hair at any spot on her head and it just came right out. So Kelley has been trying to pull it out for a few days. Then she asked me to help her pull it out. The problem is her hair is so short it is hard to grab much. So we had to try tweezers. It worked well but it would take days to get it all out using that method. We didn't want to use a regular razor for fear of cuts and infections. So we decided to see what an electric razor would do. I shaved it as close as possible with the electric razor. It took a little while and Kelley said "can you believe we are doing this?". She said "before I didn't want my hair to come out and now I wish it would just all come out." As I am shaving and thinking about how strange it is to be doing this. I whisper into Kelley's ear "is it weird that this is turning me on?". Of course she laughed but she really is hot bald. And I really did enjoy feeling how smooth her skin was after it was shaved. I am watching her now as I blog and she is just rubbing her head. Which is what I plan to do as soon as I am done writing this.
It is strange how the things you can be so afraid of can turn into some of the most intimate moments of your life. I mean for her to trust me enough to allow me to do that. And the fact that I really felt closer to her at that moment is amazing. And that is where true excitement comes from in a relationship. Sex is an important part of a marriage but without these intimate and loving moments away from the bedroom it is just a physical act. But it can be so much more than that if you will cultivate and notice these moments when they happen. You can create opportunities for intimacy with dates and such but the most intimate of moments are unplanned and cannot be planned. Because when your love for one another just bursts forth spontaneously it leaves no doubt that it came straight from your heart.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2 Down, 2 To Go

Kelley says...........

Well, unfortunately I ended up being there yesterday from 8:45 until after 2:00. The lady who was so awesome at drawing my blood transferred to a different facility and it took the new lady two times to get blood. Then the girl who does my IV who I just think is so awesome took two times to get the IV in!! But after not getting blood the first time I started getting nervous which made my veins disappear even worse which made it harder to get the IV in. So that took a while.

Deryl couldn't stay the whole time because he had a meeting to go to. I could tell he was stressing with all that was going on with the blood draw and the IV and I know he hated leaving me. But I had my awesome breast cancer friend there with me and everyone always thinks we are sisters, cracks me up. She told me I should take a nap and I was like I don't even know how people sleep in this place. Machines beeping all the time, people talking, the television is on, I can't sleep. Not two minutes later I was totally out of it slobber running down my mouth and snoring!!!! Can you say embarrassing! Oh well, it was great to take a nap. 

While I was there I handed out some cards I had made up to advertise my blog. (If you want any, just let me know!) I got to meet the lady who is over all volunteers through the American Cancer Society as well as the lady who oversees the Reach to Recovery program. While I was getting chemo they were all already reading my blog and told me how much they want me to do some things there! I was so excited. They were all telling me how private people are when it comes to being diagnosed, especially with breast cancer. I have found the same thing to be true. It is funny because I had been praying for two days for God to really confirm some things to me. I want nothing more than his will for my life to be accomplished through this and I don't want to miss a thing. The very day I started praying this I booked my first speaking engagement. Within 2 days I had booked another one and landed another one as a volunteer speaker yesterday!! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am. Other women are starting to contact me on my blog and I am able to help them. So much passion rises up within me just typing this out. 

I don't think I have been more passionate about anything in my entire life, EVER. I have realized that God has been preparing me all these years to do what I am doing right now. Not only to fight for my life and become a survivor but to help save others lives. And not just physically. But to save them spiritually and to help them get a new perspective, to find themselves and much, much more.

Just one more thing, uhhhh, hot flashes are a real bummer!!!!  :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

2nd Round Tomorrow

Kelley says...........

Just wanting to let you all know my 2nd treatment is tomorrow. Please pray for a perfect blood draw and a perfect IV experience. Also, the steroids make me so cranky and continually hungry. I am gaining weight and DON'T like this! So, please remember me in your prayers. Oh yeah, and that my white blood cell counts don't crash this time!!!!

I had really bad stomach aches, headaches, problems with my asthma and a bad rash the first round. Believe with me that this won't be an issue this time. The oncologist is going to lower my dose some to see if that helps.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers.



Random Things I Think I Think

Deryl says.........Kelley and I went to the North Texas Gilda's club last night. Gilda's Club is a community for cancer patients, their families, and survivors. It is named in honor of Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Live fame. We were invited by our friend Michael. Michael is the gentleman I mentioned in an earlier post that we met at Sing For the Cure and was wearing a pink suit, well really pink everything from head to toe. Michael is a breast cancer survivor himself and has stayed in contact with us ever since we met him. He has been a great source of encouragement and Kelley and I are both so glad he invited us last night. It was a meeting called Sisters but a few men were allowed. Cancer patients, caretakers, and survivors all took turns sharing there stories. It was emotional and inspiring and everyone was so positive and hopeful. Some were scared as well. We met a young lady who is having a mastectomy next week. She is only 28 years old. Michael told us about a girl who is 15 and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Kelley and I both shared some of our story with the group. We talked with many people after the meeting was over. When you listen to the stories you realize how precious life is and how radically it can change in a moment. Maybe that is why Jesus said "take no thought for tomorrow" to encourage us to focus on today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
I have learned so much about myself, my wife, my daughters, and others during this time. I thought it would be fun to list them here. So here are some thoughts I have about life:
  • I love my wife more than I thought I ever could
  • That God is the greatest comforter if you choose to let him
  • That everyone is much stronger than they give themselves credit for
  • That a cancer diagnosis only magnifies the type of relationship you have with your spouse whether good or bad
  • That cancer does not care about your race, sex, social status, religious beliefs or anything else
  • That we have higher rates of cancer today than in the past because overall we eat poor nutritionally, we don't exercise enough, we don't manage our stress well, and we take too much medication
  • I don't think all of those things are the cause of cancer but I do thing they all contribute to it
  • Heather and Rachel are more responsible and thoughtful than I realized
  • That seemingly bad things happen to really nice people for no apparent reason
  • That everything we think is bad is not always bad it just feels bad for awhile
  • That you can discover your life's purpose in your darkest moments
  • That you can still have fun and laugh even during a crisis
  • That things can always get worse.....or better
  • That you can turn scary moments into fun moments
  • That the fear of most things are worse than the actual things themselves
  • That I have yet to find a creature stronger than a single mother raising young children while fighting cancer
  • That what is right for you is not necessarily for me and vice versa
  • That judging people is pointless and if you knew the person's story you would probably feel compassion for them and feel guilty for judging them
  • That people can say really silly things when they don't know what to say
  • That most people are good and want to help
  • That most women's biggest fear after a cancer diagnosis is losing their hair
  • That I appreciate my family and friends more now than before
  • That I wish I would have appreciated them more before
  • That life is really good and worth the trouble it sometimes gives you
  • That it is more gratifying to help someone than to be helped
  • That doctors should be appreciated for their dedication and discipline to become good at what they do
  • That doctors are humans and they cannot tell the future
  • That we are all connected whether we know it or not
  • That the greatest healer of all things is true divine love
You know people tell us all the time how we are handling this so well and how we are an inspiration. And we appreciate that people feel inspired by our story. I think the difference between us and many others going though this is that we are openly sharing our experience. But that is what works for us. There are many others that are equally strong and inspiring. They just do it quietly and share their experience with a select few. Neither one is better than the other. They are just different ways of handling life's opportunities. Everyone has the same spirit and strength within them. They only need to be awakened to it. Some one asked Kelley today if she would give this cancer and its treatment back if she were able and she said no for the same reason I would say no. We are both better people than we were before. We both have more compassionate and open hearts to others. We love more than we did before. You can only measure how well you understand a subject with a test. This is just our test to measure how much we understand what is really important in life. We have not scored an A+ but I feel that we are doing better than average. God is good and He loves us so immensely that we would be shocked and overwhelmed if we would take the time to quiet our minds and just allow ourselves to experience it. So many times we blame God for our bad choices or the bad choices of others. We get upset thinking He should have protected us or our loved one. The thing is, if I look back on my life honestly there were many times I felt a tug in my heart that I ignored. God was communicating to me but I didn't listen. I wonder how many times we all do that. You are all loved with such a great love. Kelley and I talk often about how fortunate we are to know so many of you. You are an encouragement to us and we hope that we can be as much of a blessing to you as you are to us.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 16

Kelley says..........

When I had Trish do all my different hair cuts, I decided to just get a buzz cut on the final shave instead of shaving it completely. I did that because I still wanted to know exactly what day my hair fell out. Last night I was making some cards and my scalp felt SO strange. I had heard from many people that that is what happens right before your hair comes out. I reached up and pulled my hair and it was all in my hands! That is when I went and showed Deryl. (see his most recent post for details on the funny story)

I wasn't upset at all. The only thing I could think about is how thankful I was that God gave me the idea to do the different cuts. It was SO much easier to handle. I can't even begin to imagine what it would have been like had I not cut my hair first and then shaved it. The chemo nurse told me everyone's hair falls out in 2 - 14 days after their first treatment. Guess that just shows how stubborn I am!!!! I felt so very empowered that I chose when to cut and shave my hair. Finally something I could be in control of. 



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Life, Kelley, and Cake.....All Sweet Things!

Deryl says......It has been a while since I have blogged anything. I think it may be because I am not as emotionally wrecked anymore. We are in the final phase of treatment and once chemo is over we are done. So since there are no more unknowns as far as treatment goes I feel as if we have survived the hardest parts. Kelley's attitude during this whole process has definitely made it easier for me to handle. My biggest concern all along was how she would react to losing her hair. So when she decided to shave it before it fell out I knew she was going to be fine. The fact that she was not clinging to anything and just accepting the situation for what it was has made it easier for everyone.
You have probably seen the pictures and can tell that she has a buzz cut at the moment. Well, her hair started falling out today. And instead of freaking she decided to shave the letter "K" on the side of her head before it all fell out. She was in the bathroom and came out to surprise me with the letter on the side of her head. But there was one slight little problem. Since she shaved the letter in the mirror when she came out and showed it to me it was a backwards "K". I wondered if she meant to do it that way so I asked her if she knew it was backwards. She just said "Oh my gosh!" and busted out laughing. We were both laughing until we were crying. We were laughing so hard that my daughter Heather ran into the room to find out what was going on. It is moments like that when I am so proud to be married to Kelley. She has never thought of herself as inspirational or even exceptional in any way. But I think she is finally getting a glimpse of how special she really is. The person that I have always known her to be. Although she has changed the only thing that has really changed is her recognition of her own strength and beauty.
I am so happy to see her realize just how much God loves her. Loving her so much that he would allow something like this in her life at this young age rather than let her live any longer thinking she was weak or not good enough. She is and has always been more than good enough. Finally she and everyone else is seeing the secret that God and I have known for so many years. That Kelley McElreath is a strong, wise, loving, and inspirational woman. A woman that has experienced so much trial and tribulation in her young life yet can laugh at herself. A woman who can look at the possibility of death and not become bitter and ask "why me?". A woman who can lose a child and a mother at a young age and not hold a grudge against God or life.
She has always amazed me and she just amazes me more everyday. I am so fortunate. I have a wonderful life. It is not perfect by any means and there are things that I want to change. But if this is as good as it ever gets I have no right to complain. I am blessed beyond measure in the places it matters most. In my soul and my spirit. I am loved and adored by my God, my wife, and my daughters. All of whom I adore back in equal measure. Anymore would just be icing on the cake.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Public Speaking

Kelley says..................

If you have been following my blog since the beginning then you know that God delivered me earlier in the year from my extreme fear of public speaking. If you are a new follower, I can't locate the post right now to let you read it. I had an extreme fear of it and I started meditating and visualizing myself being a great speaker and speaking in front of lots of people. This whole idea about visualizing came to me because I was asked to help teach a group of Life-Coaches and I said no because I was terrified. After saying no, I wondered how many times in my life had I missed my true calling or destiny God wanted me to fulfill because of this fear.

So, I ended up spending lots of time visualizing myself teaching that class and doing an incredible job with complete peace. And that is exactly what I did. It was amazing! I was not nervous AT ALL and had complete peace and also got rave reviews. I have not been afraid of public speaking one time since!! I say all of this to say that I am available to speak at any event. Since this is all new to me, I am at this time willing to speak for any size donation. Deryl is also available to speak. You can request me for any women's event, Deryl for any men's event or both of us for any other event. Just contact me and I will get it scheduled.

I wasn't going to start doing this until later in the year but we are desperately trying to raise money to cover medical stuff among other things that have not been paid due to medical expenses. The biggest pressing thing is my little dog. He tore his ACL and has hobbled around on 3 legs since my diagnosis. It was either him get surgery or me and as you know, we chose me. He is much worse now and he is my little buddy. I love him dearly. He stays in his kennel pretty much at all times so he doesn't injure it further. So if you know of anyone who would benefit from my story or you think it would be a blessing and encouragement to anyone you know or any church or company, PLEASE give them my contact information. I hope to get my schedule really booked up as this is what I hope to one day do full time.

I was thinking the other day about what I would do every day if I could just do what I totally love and was passionate about. And I knew immediately that it would be to volunteer at The Baylor Breast Cancer Center a couple of days a week, be an advocate for self-breast exams, and public speaking. So this is my vision for myself. 

Since being diagnosed, most of you who know us have asked how you can help or what you can do for us. 99.9% of the time my answer is to just pray for us. Which is what we need more than anything but with anything else, I don't want to burden people. So with this, I am finally in a situation where I have no choice but to ask for help. So please remember us to come speak at events for anyone you know!!!! This would really help to get me started and also help my family in more ways than you will ever, ever know. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. 



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hurting people

Kelley says...........

Okay, so I wasn't going to blog this story but a couple of people told me I really need to. On Monday I went to Sam's to pick up some pictures. I pulled into the parking lot and it was like you know, you drive on one side and you are supposed to only pull into a parking place on the right because the cars on the left are parked the opposite direction. Well, there was a close parking place on the left so I just cut it wide to the right to pull in it. I saw a woman and her little boy about to walk by through the space I was fixing to park in so I stopped to wait on them. Immediately, the lady literally starts walking slow as a snail. When she got up to the front bumper and closer to my passenger side window she raises her hand and motions to me how I wasn't supposed to be pulling into the parking space that way and proceeds to tell me off and just walks off. I said out loud in my car "YOU BITCH!!" I'm thinking, do you have any idea what I've been through the last two days?! I pull into the parking place and am thinking I am going to go TELL her what I've been through and she should have a little more compassion for people!!!! I wanted to take my scarf off and strangle her with it!!

Now I just have to tell you that I would NEVER EVER EVER call someone that much less think that about someone. It just came out of nowhere! I felt anger just rising up within me. I got out of my car and was walking behind her. When I felt all that anger as I was looking at her I thought you know......Hurting people, hurt people. I am NOT going to let this woman ruin my day and cause me to react rather than respond. I immediately knew I should just pray for her. 

I just said Lord, I pray right now for this lady that you would bless her beyond belief that your favor would be upon her all the days of her life, I thank you that she is the head and not the tail that she is the beginning and not the end. I pray you would protect that little boy and you would bring joy into her life. I pray Lord that she would never ever get cancer or any other deadly disease and she would always have a healthy life. At that moment all anger left my body. Literally, I felt total peace and all the negative emotion was completely gone. 

I can honestly say I have NEVER experienced something like this before which is pretty darn sad. There have been so many times in my life that someone has done something like that and I didn't react so nicely. In the past I would have stewed over that for days. I would have let it ruin my entire day! It just all comes back to the fact that you have NO idea what people are going through or what has just happened to them or what kind of past and/or current life situation they have going on. 

I hope this helps you today and that you will choose to respond with a genuine prayer the next time someone doesn't treat you justly.

Love always,


Monday, July 12, 2010

Reality sets in

Kelley says................(longest post known to man!)

Well, I think my last several posts have been encouraging and inspiring. Today, maybe not so much. At first, I was reluctant to even want to blog about this because there are so many people who read my blog that I know from church. But, I really felt God tugging at my heart asking me "Why do I have my blog?" Well, one reason is to keep everyone informed about what is going on with our situation. But the biggest reason of all has always been to promote the importance of self-breast exams and to help save someone or many people's lives and to encourage them in their own journey.

With that being said, I realized that in order to really encourage someone who is going through this, they have to not only know all the positive sides to cancer but they need me to be real and totally straight up as well. They need to know the truth about the hard days so they don't feel alone or like what they are feeling isn't normal. 

SO, first let me say that if you watched my video, you know that Thursday I had one of my biggest breakdowns since being diagnosed. I don't think I have cried that long or that hard since my hotel retreat in the beginning of this whole fiasco. But it was just what I needed. 

Friday I went for my first blood draw to get my counts checked. White blood cells are the ones that fight off infections. The day I had chemo, mine were at 11.7 and the lowest in the range is 1.8. The doctor had already told me that I might have to get shots to bring them back up if they ended up in the low range. Well, mine were down to 0.08! So it barely registered that I even have white blood cells. I'm thinking this isn't really THAT big of a deal. Until they tell me to not eat any salad, no raw veggies, don't touch plants or flowers, don't do dishes or clean, call immediately if my fever gets over 100.5, use my hand sanitizer constantly, and go home and stay inside my own home all weekend. Then she said, when you leave and you touch that elevator button, you need to clean your hands. 

OMG! WHAT!? You know, I told Deryl that it has seemed most of this time like I have been watching someone else go through this. But the closer it got to Friday when I shaved my head, it was like I was totally backed in a corner with my own self. Suddenly I had to come to grips with the fact that this was indeed happening to ME. I didn't cry but was really bummed. But I just started thinking about what a fun night I was going to have with all my haircuts and how awesome it was that I got to try on some haircuts that I wouldn't have otherwise ever done. I thought of it as a once in a lifetime "opportunity".

So, I had a great weekend. Friday and Saturday I scrapbooked and made cards and listened to worship music all by myself. It was so much fun and I just loved it. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law brought Heather home and Rachel came home from camp. It was so good to see them. I had such a good visit with Mary & Monica. They hung out with me for a while and we got to talk with just us. We haven't done that in a very long time and I REALLY enjoyed it. Monica is a nurse and of course she asked me if I had been taking my temperature like they told me to. I said yes but I hadn't taken it that day. Right when they were getting up to leave I wasn't feeling great and it was weird because it was so sudden. I checked my temp as soon as they left even though I didn't feel hot to myself and it was 99.5! I had been so happy and in such a good mood then I immediately started to cry.

I don't want to be sick anymore. I don't want to have to go to the hospital. I don't, I don't, I don't. I popped some Tylenol and started praying right away. A couple of hours later it had gone down to 98.9 and by the evening was completely gone. I don't know if I have mentioned this on my blog or not but the type of chemo I am getting, I'm not sure if it is with every chemo or not, causes women to go into instant menopause. Well, after the fever event I was just so sad. The girls were here and I haven't seen them all week yet I felt myself getting frustrated with them and I knew it was totally me and not really them. 

Yesterday, I had on a pretty dress and one of my favorite scarves that a very dear friend gave me. But yet every time I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I just didn't feel pretty. Everyone knows that I loved my hair. It was something I felt so very confident about. I love that I don't have to wash my hair and style it right now because I had so much hair that it took forever to style it. But, this is just hard. I told a friend that having cancer, battling cancer is so, so, so much more than physical. It is a daily mental battle. It is just way too much sometimes. I mean when most people have a zit, they can cover it up with make-up. Or if you got a tattoo on your arm you regret you can wear long sleeves. But I just can't hide anymore that I am battling cancer. Like I said, sometimes it is just too much for a person. 

I am NOT a person who cries a lot. I am always very in control of my emotions and I am a very steady person. But that is seeming to not be the case anymore and I absolutely hate that. I also am experiencing "Chemo Brain" you can google it to find out more if you want. Anyway, I forgot how to get to the doctor's office Friday, I opened the freezer to put away the salt, I can't think of certain words, I was talking to the girls about a show being a rerun and I called it a re-do. UGH. This is really, really hard for an organized, extremely detailed, Type A personality like mine!!

So yeah, there it is. I hope more and more people are drawn to my blog who are newly diagnosed or are currently battling this. Although I am a very positive person and love to encourage and inspire others, I also want to be as authentic as I can so people can see ALL the sides of cancer and not just one side. I hope if you ever meet or know anyone in my shoes that you will be sure to tell them about my blog. 

I know this is the longest post I have ever written. Thank you for reading all the way to the end and thank you for being a listening ear during my time of struggle. 

Love you all,


Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

Kelley says...............

I took a shower this morning and washed my hair for a long time. Because I knew it would be the last time I would do it for quite some time. I was sure to put lots of hair product in, blow dry it and flat iron it the best I could. My hairdresser had a fabulous idea of doing another video blog of my transformation. I am so proud of myself that I edited the video all by myself!

You know, when I found out I had cancer and had to tell anyone it was so awkward. I didn't know how to say it and a lot of people didn't know how to respond. So, that got me to thinking of how awkward it will be for people the first time they see me without my hair. I really think that my video and pictures will help so everyone who knows me can take a good look and it won't be near as shocking. So when you see me, please don't feel weird. I'm still me! I will just look a little different. But hey, I really like it. I went and got a few scarves that I really like and a few people have given me some really pretty ones too. So I am set.

Let me know what you think about the video!!

My Transformation

The Face of Cancer from Kelley McElreath on Vimeo.
My transformation of losing my hair.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Kelley says................

I was completely unable to sleep last night. So, I have been praying for you guys and praying about the things you have asked me to pray for you about. I hope you sense God's loving arms around you and that he will meet your every need financially, spiritually and physically. 

I wrote a poem in the middle of the night that I think God gave me and I want to share it with you.


The busy streets, the hustle and bustle, the cares of today all rushing by. Then one word enters your life and everything stops. Time is suspended. Oh.....all the rest of the world is still rushing by as you stand in the middle of the freeway wondering how you are not getting hit. Although being hit is exactly what has happened. Hit by the word "Cancer". Your world starts moving in slow motion and your mind a complete fog. Day by day is spent trying to let this sink in, how can this be true? Maybe there's been a mistake, it just can't be you.

Slowly you start to understand that you will never wake up from this horrible nightmare because you are already awake. As you settle in with the reality of your new existence you ponder many things. Somewhere, somewhere deep within you starts to rise. She rises and keeps rising until she is completely standing. It is the you that shrunk many years before too afraid to ever come out. You stand tall and take a look around. Only this time you don't see what you used to see. You see new beginnings, you see so many possibilities. You start to have ideas, dreams, hopes for your future. Then, you grab hold of those and you hold tight with all that is within you and you fight. You fight to live, to learn, to grow and to love. And you realize that this is the new you, A SURVIVOR

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Checking In

Kelley says...............

Well, I haven't blogged in a few days so I thought I should at least check in and let everyone know how I have been doing this week. Chemo was on Friday. I didn't feel too bad Friday and Saturday, just really tired. Sunday night rolled around and I felt horrible. Just kind of like I was coming down with a major bug or the flu. Monday, just tired. Tuesday I went to work and as the morning progressed I could feel myself getting more tired and more weak and like I had a fever. I came home and sure enough, I had a fever of 99.5 and couldn't get it to come down until later in the evening. Also on Sunday, I noticed I had broken out in a rash all over my chest, back and neck. It didn't itch or anything. I took Benedryl and it is better today. I've had stomach aches and a few headaches but really overall it hasn't been too bad. I think God is protecting me while the chemo is doing its job. And I know you guys are such awesome prayer warriors. Boy, God sure does hear your prayers! 

That just made me think to myself that you should believe that God will answer your prayers about your own situation as much as you are believing he will answer your prayers that you pray for me and my family. Hmmmm, that is a thought! It is always easier I guess to believe that God will come through for someone you love and care about. But I think he is wanting us all to see that there is real power in our prayers. We MUST lift each other up!! And thank you so much to everyone who shared a prayer request with me. That made me feel so good and I am so honored to be able to lift up your name in prayer!!

I will have hair for approximately 48 more hours. So far, I'm doing okay over it. Of course that is easy to say right now since I HAVE hair! Once I decided to make that night fun, I have had a sense of calm about it. I think it is all about not living in resistance. When I just settle in with what is happening and just realize that it just is what it is, it is easier. Besides, resisting or pretending it isn't going on won't help me any!! 

Love you guys!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Love You

Deryl says........So now we are well into this chemo treatment. Kelley has handled everything pretty well so far. They said she would feel the worst about days 2 to 4 after chemo. And that has been true for her. Although she has not thrown up, she has had slight nausea. And she has had moments where she felt tired or just plain crappy. Food is starting to taste funny too. But by far the biggest concern is keeping everything disinfected in the house so she doesn't catch anything. Since chemo kills cancer and white blood cells her defenses against infections are lowered. She has had a fever a couple of times which has been a little concerning but so far she has fought them all off. It is funny how you don't think of all the places you can get infections until a doctor starts to tell you all of the things that you should avoid like any buffet or salad bar, pushing a grocery cart, a kitchen sponge, or any crowded place like church or a concert. You begin to realize how important your immune system really is and how much it fights off on a daily basis.
During this whole experience I have tried to be as honest as I can about the experience. Sharing most of my thoughts and feelings whether good or bad. Going through this experience with my family has brought out the best in me and the worst in me at times. I am grateful for all of it and hope I have the wisdom to learn from this whole experience. If you are going to suffer you might as well squeeze all of the benefits out of it that you can.
I do feel as if I am much better at focusing on what is important in life. I certainly don't do that all of the time. I still snap at my kids sometimes. I snapped at Kelley not too long ago and made her cry. I felt like a real good husband in that moment....not! But fortunately those types of moments are getting fewer and farther apart. I do feel more peace and more centered than ever before in my life. I will get nervous when Kelley gets a fever or develops a rash but I don't spend much time worrying or obsessing about things. From the outside life has not gotten better. As a matter of fact it would appear worse to anyone looking from the outside. So it seems strange even to me that I have more peace than ever. That peace comes from knowing I am loved by God more than I could ever communicate. It is this knowing that gives me peace that whatever happens is ultimately for the highest good for me, my family, and friends that are going through this with us.
It is a unique experience to feel loved by something unseen and intangible. I am not really sure how I even got to this place. I think I have some ideas but somehow I get the sense that it has been beyond my ability to ever get here of my own accord. It is a place of gratitude and confidence. A place where I feel as if I could handle anything the world wants to give. I hope I can transmit it to Kelley, my girls, and all of you. It would be nice to be able to stay in that place all of the time. Perhaps I will someday. Perhaps we all will. God willing. I love you all.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

One down, 3 to go!

Kelley says.............

Just wanted to let you all know that I am okay. Thanks so much for all your prayers. I was so worried about the IV and had everyone praying about that. Well, the IV went perfect but it took 2 different ladies and 3 sticks just to draw blood!! So, that will definitely be on the prayer request list next time.

So far, only been nauseous a little bit, the medicine is working great. I am really tired and weak and have dry mouth pretty bad. Supposedly, the next few days are supposed to be the roughest. But, I am so thankful I am not throwing up!

I appreciate all of you faithful followers and you keeping up with my blog and praying for me. I can't believe all the people I have never met who are following me and keeping up with my story. Whatever you do, don't forget to "FEEL THE TATA'S"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Deryl says........Kelley had her first chemo treatment today. She has been handling it pretty well so far. She has had a little nausea and has felt a little drained energy-wise. But so far so good. Of course it has been less than 8 hours since she finished but we can be grateful for the happenings of today. Last week when we went to chemo class I left there kind of scared and a little angry. I found myself in kind of a foul mood for a couple of days. Then had a good weekend but Monday I was feeling kind of pissy again. I just let myself feel it for awhile and got it out of my system. I finally came to a place of acceptance. I felt prepared for what is coming ever since. I had a great rest of the week. Kelley and I had a wonderful day yesterday and we both felt peace. Then this morning came and Kelley was getting a little tense. I could feel some tension within as well but it was very little and did not last very long.
In some ways this process has been very good for us. Kelley and I were discussing how we both feel as if our hearts have opened wider. We both feel more loving and accepting of others and even loving and accepting of this situation. For me the biggest change has come in the area of emotions. I have been able to allow myself to feel whatever it is that I feel in any given moment and express it. And most of the time I feel I express my emotions in a healthy way. I may snap at my kids a little too much and sulk a little too long. But I allow myself to feel and that has opened my heart. I know it sounds kind of sappy and almost feminine. And not too long ago I would have been embarrassed to write this for all to see or even to cry or voice my fears in front of my family. But the more I feel the freer I feel inside. And I see the same thing happening in Kelley.
Kelley has taken a situation that could have hardened her towards life and she has let it soften her. She tells her friends that she loves them and really means it. She could not have done that last year. I admire her bravery so much. She doesn't see it as bravery but it is. I mean who shaves their head before their hair falls out. And not just that but instead of just shaving her hair, she turns it into to hair fashion night where she will get to try on several different haircuts before she goes bald. I mean that is brilliant!
I know we have a tough road ahead of us yet I am grateful. I am grateful for all of the wonderful friends that visited us today. The friends who have done things like clean our house, mow our lawn, and cook meals for us. That is God pouring out His magnificent love on us through other people. How can I not be grateful with incredible, unending love like that. I hope I never forget.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My EVER evolving hair

Kelley says.................

Well, tomorrow I start chemo. I can't believe how fast time has gone by this week. All week I have been thinking about the Friday after next when I will have my head shaved. I have to admit, just thinking about it and imagining how that night will be is just stinking depressing!! Years ago, I was a hairdresser. I also did nails for many years and I still do my own. For as long as I can remember I have always gotten compliments on my hair. It hasn't mattered if it was super long, super short, red, blonde, curly, Texas "BIG", or whatever, people have always loved my hair and so have I. As women we don't usually think about our good qualities, we think instead about all of our shortcomings. You know like, I wish I was skinny like so and so or I wish I had bigger boobs or I wish my stomach didn't pooch out, I have big thighs, why can't I lose weight, I wish I was taller.....the list could go on forever. 

So as I pondered getting my head shaved and imagining a bunch of tears I just started thinking to myself, how can I make this fun? I mean, you just don't get this "opportunity" every day. How can I make the best out of this situation? Well, I have always loved Ellen's hair as well as Sharon Stone's. I always thought to myself that when I am older and finally do cut my hair I will get that haircut. 

My hairdresser is totally awesome and she loves my hair too! I can pretty much wear whatever haircut I want. When my hair is just starting to grow out after chemo she had the idea of starting with a Jamie Lee Curtis look until I have enough for the Ellen/Sharon look. SO, I thought why don't I have her take a before picture and then cut it into the Ellen cut and then take a picture. Then, she can cut it in the Jamie Lee Curtis cut and take a picture. Then she can do something really fun and take a picture and THEN shave it! I'm just going to make a night of it. I am sure there will be tears, no doubt. But this way there will be lots of laughter too. AND, I will feel like I get to "try on" the other cuts! Not many people get the chance to do something like this so I feel so lucky!!!! 

I'll be posting pics of the transformation next weekend.


Look good, feel better

Kelley says...........

On Monday, I went to a "Beauty class". It was called "Look good, feel better". It was for women who will lose their hair or have already. I walk in there and thought I was in a nursing home. One other lady my age walks in with hair and I was so relieved. That is, until I saw that behind her was her 90 year old mother that she was bringing. Finally, a lady walked in with no hair, she had on a turban. We talked after the class and it turns out that she is 40 just like me and she had Stage 1 breast cancer and just finished her 2nd treatment. So it was really good just to talk to someone who has taken the kind of chemo I will be on to get an idea of what to expect. I also learned how to cut up a t-shirt and use it on my head to help keep hats still. 

Over all, this has been a good week. Been nervous a few times. But Monday was my worst day this week. I think just going to that class made me sad because I just felt so out of place. I start chemo tomorrow and I am planning on getting my head shaved the following Friday. When I think about waiting and just letting it happen whenever it happens, it puts a knot in my stomach. Just the thought of literally watching my hair fall out is just too traumatic. Besides, if I waited we would be talking about days or possibly one extra week with hair. The chemo they use for breast cancer patients causes 100% hair loss 100% of the time. So, I am choosing to be in control of when that happens.

Please pray that every time I have my blood drawn or an IV put in during the next several months, that the person would be very, very good at doing it. That they will have NO problem finding a vein AT ALL!!