A Sea of HayesTough Shirts

It was two years ago, right before the 5K and the babies first birthday. We were finishing up Hayes’ second round of chemo and I was still feeling naively optimistic. All I cared about was getting out of the hospital for the 5K and celebrating the babies. Hayes was sleeping in his hospital crib and I was sitting on the fold out plastic couch in my daily “uniform”….sweats. We were in the corner room of the cancer unit. There was a double door to get into our room and you couldn’t hear a sound. We were completely closed off from the world in our little corner that overlooked the Salt Lake Valley.

A lot of my day was spent either watching Netflix or researching cancer treatments on the internet. There was also a local cancer Facebook group that I was a part of and I would check on daily. It was an amazing resource for parents to be able to collaborate and get feedback from each other. It was on this day 2 years ago that I pulled up this very Facebook page and began to read an update from another mom. I had never met this person, but in the cancer world, you don’t have to “know” each other to know each other.

I remember so clearly as she explained that her sweet 5 year olds daughters cancer had returned and the doctors were sending her home to finish her days on hospice. There was nothing they could do. There was nothing they could do! The tears immediately began to sting my eyes. I was horrified by what I was reading. How was this even possible?! I couldn’t comprehend the thought. All of a sudden, my mind went there….the what if.  I collapsed on the couch and surfaced all of my fears from deep, deep down.


The thing is, being naive is what got me through that fight. I think it was my minds own defense mechanism so that I could wake up each day ready to battle. But, every once and a while I would let down those walls and shatter; allow the fears to creep in. I hated those days because it would usually take me a few days to recover the hope that sustained me until the next break down. But I had no time to recover. The next day, Hayes had his scans. We waited all day for the results. The sun was setting and the room was turning gray. Steve and I were playing with Hayes when the doors opened up and his oncologist walked in. She was a serious person, rarely joking around and this time was no different. She pulled up the stool and took a seat across from us and rested her elbows on her propped knees.

“The scans weren’t what we had hoped.” There it was….the terrifying results of Hayes’ first scan. Steve and I broke down. The chemo had hardly put a dent in the beast. I was so angry and sad and devastated. It was one of those heartbreaking moments that I still can feel in my chest. We begged to go home. We were desperate for our family to be together under one roof. For some reason, the thought of all of us together was all that I could think about. By the next morning we were home and now the thought of the 5K made me want to throw up. I was scared to death to see neighbors and friends. How could I face them after hearing the horrific news? How could I look them in the eyes when I wasn’t hopeful anymore? I would never be able to reassure them.

We pulled into the park and as we walked up, a HUGE crowd was waiting for us all in their gray HayesTough shirts. My heart began to swell. I have never felt so lifted up in my life as I was that day. They weren’t there to get reassured by me. They were there to lift us up in love, and they did. It was beautiful. Sometimes the power of support and love is tangible. That day it was.


As we head into our third annual 5K this Saturday, I can’t help but remember the feelings of that weekend 2 years ago. There are two families that need to feel that very love we received. This weekend is for them! This weekend is for Will and Tre! This weekend, we are #HayesArmy!  To sign up, click on the link and support Will and Tre from wherever you are in the world.  If you are here in Utah, please come.  Seeing that sea of #HayesArmy shirts makes all of the difference!

HayesTough 3rd Annual 5K

#HayesTough #WillTough #TreTough

8 thoughts on “A Sea of HayesTough Shirts

  1. rachelnorcal

    I’ve been thinking about you all “extra” in this month of the trips’ birthday.. Someday I’d love to join you all in UT for Hayes’ 5K. This year, sending love & support & healing thoughts for brave, strong (adorable!!) Will & Tre & their families & friends. 💚💚💚

  2. I just want you to know I didn’t know you all while you were going through all of this, but I really enjoy reading about Hayes now, and what you went through and experienced. Just wanted you to know, that your courage inspires a lot of women.
    Nana from Texas
    3 yo granddaughter with leukemia, got me involved in this whole where we never met, but we have met…..

  3. I’m trying to not think of the what-if either.
    I’m scared to death and can’t show my husband that.

    But what amazing support you had/have. What a beautiful “family” in a sea of shirts 🙂

  4. Jennie Gamlen

    I was elated yesterday when I got my t-shirt and medal in the mail for the virtual run. And the amazing picture of Hayes!!! Omg I almost cried just from the joy of seeing his handsome little face! We are having our neighborhood biannual garage sale on Saturday and I have a million baby clothes and toys to get rid of, so I will be there, but I will be wearing my t-shirt and medal with love, honor, and pride for Hayes and your family and all the organization does for families affected by childhood cancer. 💚💚💚

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