Early Detection of Brain Tumors

I have been doing so much thinking lately about the many tragic childhood losses I have witnessed as a result of brain tumors. After seeing my dear friends lose their 3 year old son Crosby to an undetected brain tumor, I felt incredibly defeated. Almost like all of a sudden I was putting up my hands in defeat….waving the white flag to cancer. I was talking to my mom on the phone and in confounded tears I admitted that I don’t know if it is possible to “stop” or “cure” or “early detect” brain tumors.

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Keep Believing

I am keeping this post short and sweet today, but I got asked yesterday as I so often do, “How do you stay strong?” I deeply thought it over and wondered. How do I stay strong? I feel like I could shut myself out from the world and everyone would understand. But, I have this inexplicable feeling of love and support from Hayes. He wants me to push through the tears and pain. He wants me to keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing and keep growing. Read More

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Go Gray In May

Today is May 1….the first day of Brain tumor awareness month. While I don’t intend to celebrate brain tumors, I don’t want to harp on depressing facts. We know brain tumors are depressing and devastating and I will share facts, but my goal is also to show that there is always hope and there is always a silver lining in this journey of life. During the month of May, every penny donated to the HayesTough Foundation will be donated to a brain tumor warriors family. Let’s spread kindness! Let’s spread hope!

My sweet friend Bianca Merkley is an incredibly talented singing artist and she has graciously given her talents to this cause. Her song “HOPE” is available on Bandcamp. You can download the song and choose the amount you want to donate. Whether it is 50 cents or more, every penny goes to a family in need. What I love about this song is that it’s intended to provide hope in all times of trial. Whether it is financially difficult times, marital troubles, miscarriage or cancer…we all have a story, and we can all use hope.

So gift this song to someone that needs that silver lining or gift this to your mom for Mother’s Day! Or gift a HayesTough shirt to someone that loves awesome shirts 😉! Let’s raise more money than we have before! And let’s gift hope to a family in need! We are #hayesarmy.

Link to purchase Bianca’s song.

Link to Donate.

Link to buy HayesTough merchandise.

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Personifying Cancer

I woke up this morning feeling anxious and that all too familiar sick feeling. I had dreamt of Hayes all night, but not in a happy way. In my dream, Hayes was gone still, but I was going to the state prison to meet his killer….cancer. I had personified cancer in my dream and the hatred I felt for him was unlike anything I have known. It was as if all of a sudden I was able to direct all of the unfocused and figurative “Cancer took my child” anger at the “man” that killed my child. In my dream I was so scared to meet him and to finally see his face. I knew a piece of glass would be between us and in my dream I remember feeling a frustration that I wouldn’t have the ability to jump across the table and strangle the life out of the man that tortured my baby. But, I also felt relief that the glass would be there too because if I was being honest, cancer was the scariest man I had ever met. Read More

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Avoiding the Scary Stories

I remember this one particular evening during treatment. I went to the Ronald McDonald Room, a large room on the 3rd floor of Primary Children’s Hospital where food is donated by organizations and restaurants for parents of sick children. Hayes had gone to bed and dinner was being served. I made my way down there so that I could have something besides cafeteria food. You walk into this place and no one is smiling…it is SO depressing. But I was desperate for some non-hospital food so I got my dinner plate and made my way to a long table with 3 other parents sullenly sitting in silence. Read More

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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. Read More

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The Rachel Parcell Dress

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Earlier last year, in February 2017, I woke up to a direct message in my Instagram mailbox.  I get lots of messages and I really try to respond to each one because so many are from parents of newly diagnosed children and I want to help them as much as I can.  Waking up to a new message was not unusual, but seeing who it was from was definitely shocking.  It was a message from Rachel Parcell.  In the Instagram world, Rachel is a big deal!  I had been following her for a very long time.  Here is what it said: Read More

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Three Days in Barcelona

The trip had been in the works for 2 years. Although we were dreading leaving our kids, we have had so many amazing experiences in Europe, so to say we were looking forward to our 15 days in Spain is an understatement. Steve speaks Spanish so we were so excited to completely dive into the culture! The trip was set to start in Barcelona for three days. Read More

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Code Blue

I remember one night two years ago up at Primary Children’s Hospital. I had spent the day in a dark hospital room while Hayes slept on and off with intermittent showings of Baby Einstein’s on the TV. I played peek a boo with Hayes and then watched as he drifted off to sleep. It was usually when he fell asleep that I began to notice that I was starving. It was about 7:30 and I vividly remember asking the nurse to keep an eye on him while I ran to grab food at the cafeteria.

It was my break for the day so I usually “enjoyed” myself by getting a Coke Zero from the soda machine and even splurged on some cafeteria sushi. You know, the real fancy sushi with the plastic green grass? Yep, I was a high roller sometimes.

On this night, I had just made my purchase and was walking slowly up the stairs to the 4th floor when my phone rang. The caller I.D. said “Primary Children’s Oncology”…I assumed it was an automated call from the oncology clinic so I denied the call and kept making my way up. All of a sudden, over the loud speaker I heard, “Will the parent of Hayes Tate please immediately make their way to his room.” I had NEVER heard this before, for any parent let alone myself. I was in a panic and ran the last set of stairs two at a time. I used my keycard to get into the unit and ran towards Hayes room.

Doctors and nurses were overflowing out his door with anxious looks on their faces. I pushed my way in and Hayes lay right where I had just played peek a boo with him 20 minutes before but now his eyes were closed and blood poured from his nose. How did this happen so quickly?!? I held his hands and nuzzled into his face with my wet cheek pressed into his. He didn’t respond. I whispered “My sweet baby boy…” over and over again as tears streamed. I listened to the doctors as they explained to me that Hayes had been unresponsive and they had called a “Code Blue”.

The next step was for Hayes to have a CT scan to rule out a brain bleed. The blessing came within an hour and the news that Hayes did not have a brain bleed but rather low platelets and an extreme loss of blood was actually a relief. Hayes had scary situations all of the time, daily and sometimes hourly, so this roller coaster of heart break was all too familiar. The blood loss and platelet transfusion were just the teeniest of bumps in the road.

We were back in his hospital room and I sat rocking him in the green pleather chair. As I held him, I cried that night at what could have been. To be honest, it still takes me right to the edge of tears. The irony is that the “what if” has already happened, but it is just a reminder that I lived that fear.

As I held him, the hum of CNN played on the TV. My mind focused and I realized what the political panel was debating. They were arguing the presidential candidates. Who would be the most honest? Who had said what in their past? Who would cut taxes?…..I wanted to throw up, I was so angry. Here these 5 people were, passionately arguing over something that really, in the grand scheme of things didn’t matter, and I had almost lost my baby boy the hour earlier.

The cancer unit is this other world. You have to go through two sets of double doors and every room is pressurized to insure that no germs can get in. It is truly the most locked down area of the hospital because these little bodies are so vulnerable and susceptible to sickness. Because of this, it is incredibly isolating and lonely. You really don’t know what the weather is outside let alone the political climate. So listening to the news that night completely disgusted me. That people were worrying about things that didn’t matter just killed me inside. How was childhood cancer not the subject of their disgust?!

It probably isn’t completely logical. I understand that childhood cancer isn’t everyone’s agenda, but during that 331 day fight, it was all I knew. It was all I could wrap my passion around. I lived the world of childhood cancer. Still, to this day, I have a hard time empathizing with political and social issues and debates. For me, none of that stuff matters. My fight is childhood cancer. It will be until there is a change. This is my forever fight, my forever “Code Blue”.

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