This January, we had a huge scare in our Smarty family. It was frighteningly similar to our tragedy four and a half years ago, literally to the day.
January 18, 2012 was like any other day in my busy mom life: carpool, meetings, conference calls, grocery runs, the usual. Until I got a phone call from my dear friend and Smarty co-worker, Kaylee. She told me she had a chest X-ray and they found a mass on her lung – which was the last thing I expected to hear. Four years ago, I got the exact same call and a week later, it was the worst day of my life when I lost Jen Bunich. So I tried to compose myself and sound strong, but I was terrified for what was to come.
Lucky for us and after tons of tests, Kaylee does not have the scary, scary lung cancer like Jen. But she does have a cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and is currently engrossed in the fight of her life. What is bringing us comfort is that Kaylee’s prognosis is really good, but she has a 6-month fight ahead of her with intense chemotherapy and with that, hair loss.
So I was desperately trying to think of something that I can do to lift my special girlfriend up during her battle. To me, hair loss makes cancer official, there’s no denying it and no turning back. Your reflection will now scream “I have cancer!” and maybe people will look at you differently.
I put my thinking cap on – how would I handle my own battle with cancer and hair loss? What would I do to make my HUGE head (trust me, I was born with a crazy round and big head:-) a little prettier? It came to me in pink and green fashion as always. Enter our wonderful friends at Lilly Pulitzer SouthPark. God love those bright and cheery gals!
We decided to have our Smarty family all wear Lilly scarves for a week and walk in Kaylee’s shoes as she enters this next stage of treatment. We summoned the smiling dedicated face of the best photographer in town, Brooke Brown, and we decided to start a Smarty movement here in the Queen City.
We will be wearing these scarves 24/7 (with the exception of working out, we don’t want to ruin our silk!) this week. Each one of us represents the love and support we have for our girlfriend and all of the other girlfriends out there in Charlotte facing the fight of their lives, no matter how big or small. We invite you to stop us and say hello and we can share a prayer, even better snap a photo and load to our facebook page and we can share it there. Maybe even share your story on our facebook wall and together, let’s lift up this entire Smarty community – in honor of our Kaylee and all of the other women out there. A pay it forward so to speak.
(All of these photos were taken when we surprised Kaylee with “the plan”! Not photographed: Krista & Wendy, but they’ll be up on facebook)
Bloggers include myself (you can’t miss me in the Smarty Party!), Courtenay, Susan, Cheryl, Lisa, Wendy, and our newest Smarty sister, Jen Voorhees. And let me tell ya, there was not a second of hesitation when I presented the plan! We will be in meetings, presentations, airplanes, dance lines, soccer games, you name it, we’ll be there with what looks to be a bald head hidden under a gorgeous pink & green scarf.
A Lilly Giveaway!
We invite you to join our movement, lift up Kaylee and lift up our community this week. Lilly Pulitzer SouthPark wants Y-O-U to be a part of it and is giving one lucky Smarty a free Murfee scarf, value $118. We will select our winner on Sunday, May 20th. The winner will be selected based on the story and interaction that moves us.
Have a wonderful Monday, Smarty Charlotte!
It’s hard for me to express in words how touched I am by this. I love you Smarty ladies!
Since Bonnie ( your dad’s wife, my sister) told us your news you have been in our family’s prayers. Stay strong and optimistic… great things are ahead after what will (later in life) seem like a short time of trial. May God’s Holy Spirit continue to hold you closely.
I don’t get to your website often, but I’m so glad I found this story. Yes, Kaylee, you are in for a fight and it will forever change the way you view yourself and the world. I was diagnosed with beast cancer a year and half ago. I went through chemo (got to love my big bald head) and surgery including reconstruction. Luckily the prognosis is good as is yours. Know that there are so many that will lift you up and help you in ways you never thought possible. Learn to know yourself and to let people help you through this. I also have 2 small boys. We told them that I would feel tired and look different, but I was still the same mom. We also made it a point to tell them that what I had was not contagious ( who knows what little ones think?). It was their smiles and hugs that made even the worst days better. I hope some of this helps you. I wish you the best!
Continuing to send much love and many prayers, Kaylee! xoxo
Such a moving testimony to the power of strong women and strong friends!
SM, we lift YOU up this week too. Thank you for sharing!!
Oh, Kaylee, thinking of you! I had not heard your diagnosis until reading this. Sending you girl power & lots of love. Hang in there! xo
You all are the best! What a great show of support for Kaylee and her family. Thanks for all you’ve been doing and continue to do.
This is such a lovely idea. Kaylee, you have amazing friends!
SM, thank you for your valuable advice. I’m so glad to hear that your prognosis was a great one as well. I really appreciate that you shared your story!
Thinking of you, Kaylee! My daughter goes to preschool with your son and I will be lifting your family up in my thoughts and prayers!
Thank you with all of my heart for the incredible love, support, and friendship you all give to my amazing sister. I know how much it makes her heart sing. Incredible, just incredible and thank you. It makes my heart sing too.
I know you have what it takes to get through this. Remember, I am a 15 year survivor. Just listen to your doctors, do what they tell you to do, and be patient with your recovery. I will be praying for you.
Kaylee..hugs and prayers are going out to you and your family..Stay Strong and listen to your doctors…what a fabulous tribute…..
I will be praying for you Kaylee.
We currently have a sweet neighbor and friend, a little guy who just turned 2, baring his beautiful bald head as he fights cancer. I have a little girl who is his same age. His dad shaved his head to join him in his fight. So so sweet.
I have often thought of what I would do to help a friend going through hair loss due to chemo- as you said- it SCREAMS out CANCER!
I LOVE that you are all standing along side her. I LOVE the stories of women shaving their heads, with their friends, in honor of them.
If I owned a scarf, I would wear it this week with you all!
Thank you for being such great friends. Thank you you helping others see how to support friends in their time of need.
I posted this on your Facebook page, but I’m not sure it showed up. I just wanted you to know how much this story touched me. It’s nice for me to know that there are other supporters out there who are loving their friends/family through the cancer fight too.
My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer the week before Easter. She had a lumpectomy and just this past Thursday started her chemotherapy. Y’all are right – the hair loss is one of the most daunting and scary parts of this fight for her. We had a big family fun day last weekend to help her pick out a wig and several scarves/hats in preparation for the chemo. We tried to make it a fun and positive experience, and the lady at the wig shop was so sweet and cheerful! Just what we needed, and we found a wig that just makes my grandmother look like her.
All of the grandkids (well, the local ones anyway) also bought pink hats in her honor (even my 6′ 3″ brother). On mother’s day, she wasn’t feeling very well from her chemo, so we had a low-key gathering, and the grandkids took a picture with her all in our pink hats (posted on Facebook). I would love for my grandmother to have a Lilly Pullitzer scarf to make her feel beautiful and feminine and fancy this summer as she is going through treatments.
She’s the strongest woman I know, and cancer ain’t got nothing on her. I’m so thankful that we have so much family nearby to love her through it and remind her that she is not alone. I think the pink hats (or the Lilly scarves) are a great outward sign of support. I’m sure that your friend Kaylee is so glad to have y’all, too! Keep up the good fight!
Thank y’all for your prayers and kind words and shared stories. I am inspired and moved by all of you. Just wanted to drop a little bit of good news in as an update to my previous post.
After my grandmother’s first round of chemo, she did pretty well for the first 3 days. But then she got very sick and dehydrated, got so dizzy that she fainted (didn’t break any bones, praise the Lord, but she’s got several bruises all over), and eventually had to go back to the hospital for fluids and tummy meds. It was a long and hard 10 days of fighting with the strong chemo medicine, and both my grandmother and my mom, who is serving as primary caretaker, are exhausted.
BUT (and here comes the good part that I promised) on Saturday, she requested Krystal chili cheese pups, chili on the side, for lunch! She made us all laugh with that request! The best part about it is knowing that she’s feeling better – you don’t order chili cheese hot dogs from Krystal if you are still feeling icky! I know she has to go through this 3 more times, and I wish I could take the suffering away from her, but at least she is able to take time to recover and indulge in some favorite (if unexpected) treats in between treatments (and keep her sense of humor about her). I’m learning to be thankful for the little things and the small triumphs. Each small battle won gets us closer to the end of the war.
My prayers are with Kaylee and the others mentioned in the comments. Thank you for giving us a forum to share these incredible stories.
I stumbled upon this story from Lilly Pulitzer’s Facebook page. Kaylee’s story was heartbreakingly beautiful. When cancer touches you or your family, it can be so easy to feel alone in the process. However, local and virtual communities can provide infinite amount of support, as it has to our family over the past several months.
My Grandmother has been battling stage 4 ovarian cancer for almost a year now. She was diagnosed just days after her 50th wedding anniversary celebration. She wasn’t given a good prognosis (15% chance) but has so far defied the odds and amazed us all with her strength and determination and is now considered in remission. However, due to the recurring nature of ovarian cancer, she will continue chemotherapy for the rest of her life and likely never get her auburn curls back. She has been wearing simple bandanas and skull caps through the winter months but I’d love to see her in something more beautiful for the summer months.
The first time I saw her bald head was on her birthday (#78!). Despite the fact that she had to endure “double chemo” instead of celebrating, she was in great spirits. In fact, she whipped off her hat and wore a birthday tiara on her bald head during the entire chemo session with the biggest smile on her face. It brought smiles to the other chemo patients as well. That’s just the type of woman my grandmother is.
For the last several months, my grandmother has tried to stay away from crowds due to her weakened immune system. However, she is slowly transitioning back into a more active lifestyle and is seizing the day more and more. We have a big family wedding coming up in a few weeks, where she will see much of our extended family for the first time since getting diagnosed. I know a Murfee scarf would be the perfect addition to her outfit. My grandmother does not want to be perceived as sick or frail (she still goes to the gym almost everyday!) and the Murfee scarf would reflect just as alive and bright as she is on the inside.
My prayers go out to everyone fighting cancer and their families.
What an amazing story. How brave your grandmother is! After seeing my grandmother go through only 1 round of chemo, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have those treatments indefinitely. Your story especially struck me when you mentioned her auburn hair. I have red in my hair, although mine is more strawberry blonde. You can’t keep a girl with red in her hair down! We can be feisty! I’m glad to hear that she’s able to get out and interact with family and friends again. Y’all are in my prayers.
I am so thankful I have never had to fight cancer but I have had to fight for my life. 2 years ago I had a massive blood clot and Pulmonary embolism and spent 3 months in the hospital, resulting from a surgery I had to remove 17 cms of cysts from my ovaries (I lost the entire left ovary and fallopian tube and a quarter of the other). At 17 I was facing a fight that I never could have imagined but because of the love of my family and friends I have been pushing through it. Without the support of the women in my life I would not have been able to fight like I did–you seem very lucky to have such wonderful friends and family in your life! I still have constant pain in one of my legs and my college and career plans have totally changed but I am so happy that I have made it this far. I wish you nothing but luck and my thoughts and prayers are with you. It is incredibly difficult to fight a fight like this but don’t be discouraged! You’ll look back in a year or two and realize what an amazing feat you have accomplished and being healthy again is worth every second of suffering and difficulty!
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!!!
I also stumbled upon this story from the Lilly facebook page. It is always enlightening to hear stories such as Kaylee’s. I can relate, as cancer has affected my family imensely over the last 5 months. My grandfather was the first to have cancer, being diagnosed in early February. His prognosis is good and he has just finished his radiation treatments at 83 years young.
Just a few weeks later though, I recieved more bad news while away at college. My mother, my best friend, was also diagnosed with cancer. Her cancer was stage 2 breast cancer and after a lumpectomy, they found it had spread to a lymph node. She is now 3/8ths of the way through her chemotherapy and has lost almost all of her hair. She has a wig, but living in Charleston brings warm temperatures making it uncomfortable for my mom to wear the wig. She tries to be positive about the situation but waking up everyday with less and less hair is quite disheartening.
Through everything, I have learned that cancer is not something I would wish on anyone. It has done a number on my family but with faith and perserverance, a family can defeat it. Being Lilly lovers, my mom and I always try to lead the “colorful life,” and a scarf looks like a great way to mask a bald head and a sad heart!
I will be praying for Kaylee and all the other people who’s stories have been shared. Chemotherapy is a long road but I know everyone has the strength to persevere. I have told my mom countless times how beautiful she looks without hair and how I would gladly wear something so that I was in her shoes! Thank you for sharing this story and I am happy that I stumbled upon your website.
Hi, it’s amazing how God puts someone in your path to meet. Yesterday, I was in Ballantyne Nail and Spa. I went to get a polish change before heading to Atlanta for my sons college graduation. The technician sat me in front of a lady which I assumed was just very stylish! We began talking when she was wondering if she should spray on quick dry and I commented, I didn’t like the spray. Her name was Jen Plym, we began talking and she explained to me about the scarf. I then told her about my friend for over 23 years Sherry Stump. Sherry was diagnosed less than 3 months ago with breast cancer. Sherry was actually receiving her 2 round of chemo while I was talking to Jen. I showed her our text. This is our little ritual while she’s there with her husband Greg. It helps because of the sadness in the room at times. Sherry has met extraodinary people while there with unbelievable strength. So, please understand while it is sad it also gives her hope! Sherry lives in Lewisville, NC. I lived in Winston-Salem for 15 years before moving to Charlotte 8 1/2 years ago. Sherry and I are good friends, ex-business partners and most of all we feel like family. We have so much in common with our families. I drove to Winston-Salem the day of her double mastectomy. While traveling Greg called and said they called her in for surgery to come in 1 hour early. So, not knowing if I was going to see her before she went in we said a prayer while crying at the same time. When I arrived to the hospital I asked for her and the told me to go in the back. When I got to the desk, they said wait just a moment and ask for my name. Well, you see I’m sure they thought their was a mistake. Sherry is white and I am black, so it was funny! We joke because Sherry in the summer gets way darker than I will ever be! So, I was able to see my friend and was able to see her after surgery. I felt very honored because she has such an overwhelming amount of friends, but she only wanted me their with her family! I was able to talk with her children Christy (PA in Myrtle Beach), Daniel 25 and Brandon 23. I told them she was scared and really trying to be strong for them. But, they now needed to be strong for her, because she didn’t know how much longer she could try and be a rock for everyone. Sherry often talked about how people thinks she’s so strong. She would say I’m not Kersey, I’m so scared! And, I would say you should be I would! I always tell her, God has you. My daugher is 27 she was diagnosed on her 25th birthday with MS. I couldn’t say the word for almost a year with out crying. Sherry has been one of my biggest supporters the past 2 years! It’s amazing being a Mom we are always in control and able to fix anything. God, has let me know he is the only one in control. My daughter is doing well, I’m very proud of her. People look at her and are amazed, you would never know she’s in pain.( absolutely beautiful) sherry and I went to purchase her wig before the mastectomy, having it cut just like her hair. We found the wig, it was the first one we saw. She was so nervous going to pick out the wig, it took less than 30 minutes. God is so good! This morning shes feeling a little weak from treatment. Sherry is getting her hair cut really short today, she said its starting to come out. I told her I would cut mine for her but I have a really big head! Sherry has a cute little head. I’m so glad my friend has taken such good care of herself through the years. Sherry is 55 but looks 45. Greg and sherry have great neighbors, Mike and Julie who I’ve known for at least 15 or more years. Julie has been there for Sherry in so many ways. I’m so glad she has her since I’m 1 1/2 hours away. Last week Sherry told me she had a taste for my mothers pound cake. (unbelievable cake) So, I told my mother( she has been living with my husband an I for 13 years) My mom made the cake we drove to Lewisville. I didn’t tell Sherry I was coming, she was so surprised seeing us at the door. I dropped the cake off and told her I would come back, just wanted to give her some pound cake! She said she couldn’t believe I drove just to bring her a cake. I told her its nothing she would not have done for me. So, Jen thank you because as friends when one is going through something like this we all are going through it together! And, keep wearing the scarves. I say you all are CSP DIVAS!!!!!!
I’m SOOO glad to have met you, Cynthia! We are doing this for Sherry too:-) Thank you for sharing yours and Sherry’s story – means so much to us. Have a great day!!
While breezing through facebook I saw the Lilly posting about a group of ladies wearing scarves for a friend. The tidbit caught my eye for many selfish reasons. It reminded me of my college sorority sisters and made me think of how we might do something like this for one of our own whom is battling cancer now. It made me think about wearing a scarf to cover the hair I don’t always love of my own. And it was a Lilly scarf giveaway, how great. Little did I know that as I opened and began reading the story, the picture looked strangely familiar. Then it hit me. Kaylee lived in NJ and we went to school together when we were much younger. Not too many Kaylee’s with those beautiful blue eyes and sweet smile. So Kaylee, my thoughts are with you as you begin your battle. I am sorry to hear that you are going through this and I hope that your treatments are speedy and successful. You are very lucky to have this group of women supporting you. I will think of you next time I tie on my Lilly scarf!
Wow…it is so wonderful to hear from you. I hope that you are doing well. I have so many wonderful memories from my Ridgewood days. Thank you very much for your kind words.
Hello Kaylee May!
You probebly do not remember me, but I worked with your amazing dad, my mentor, in NYC and you all lived in N.J.
Your beautiful mom Robin and Dad Chuck trusted me to babysit for you and your sister, Jennifer.
It was a joy and honor as you both were the sweetest and funniest little girls!
I came across this page, and it caught my eye, as my sister has been diagnosed in 6/11 with stage 3 breast cancer and after Chemo, Radiation and surgeries has since been found CANCER FREE as of 8/12!
I want to reach out through the years and give you a big hug of encouragement and send loads of POSITIVE energy!
You are from strong stock and resilient women! Just look at your mom and grandmoms!
You keep your chin up and a positive attidude young lady! You will beat this and be able to help others get through similar situations in the future!
There is always love for you and your family!
GOD is healing and has you covered!
Keep that sweet smile little girl! 😉