The C Word, and 23 Months

The C Word, and 23 Months

of all the things i thought i’d ever write about, this is not one of them. maybe 40-50 years from now, when it would kind of make more sense. but at 28? no.

for the last 3-4 weeks, brett has been having weird heart palpitations. they started really the day after my birthday. he went to the ER that night, and since he thought it might be heart related (he’s had mildly high blood pressure in recent months), they looked for signs pointing to heart-related issues. they sent him home after giving him fluids, thinking he was severely dehydrated. we had all our buddies in town the entire weekend and it was almost non-stop drinking. it sort of made sense, he felt at ease a bit, and we left it at that.

the heart palpitations continued, however, only getting more obvious to him that something wasn’t right. last sunday night we were getting ready to give caylin a bath, and he felt a lump on his throat/neck. i saw it after he showed me, so we both decided it was time to go back to the doctor. i stayed home with caylin, and he drove to the doctor that night, who immediately sent him to the ER. they did a CT scan–tumor. are you kidding me? he called, audibly upset and scared. midnight on a sunday night, driving home from the ER, with no answers. just… you have this thing on your neck and you won’t know anything until you go to the doctor tomorrow at best. he got home around 1AM. a lot of anxiety, panic, tears, and fear coming from our house that night. sleep was pointless.

we went to the doctor the next day. this doctor… goodness. he was in his 3rd year of residency, couldn’t be much older than 32-33. i mean… he was so young. and so green. you could tell the way he spoke to us. reciting things, but unsure of how to talk with us in this scenario. spewing out incredibly technical details we didn’t really even want to hear because all we wanted was GIVE US A REFERRAL, we don’t understand anything else you’re saying. brett and i were hesitant from the get-go. we were at a family health clinic–i don’t think he’s had many patients in this situation coming to this office. he actually told us that it was “impossible” for this to be cancer from what he could see. i’m not a doctor, but i don’t think you’re supposed to tell patients anything is impossible when all you have in your hands is a CT scan and some basic blood work.

he came back in 5-10 minutes later–“it’s not impossible, but you only have about a 4% chance of this being something serious.” well, 4% sounds good. nothing about this scenario is good but we’ll take it. he told us that brett needed to go get an ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration/biopsy done to be certain. we want certain. brett and i were like, dude, get us the first appointment possible. get this thing out, whatever it is. so he supposedly told the receptionist what brett needed and the receptionist was supposed to make the appointment.

somewhere between him and the receptionist and the person in the next doctor’s office, the appointment got royally fucked up. we were sent to the medical arts center of MUSC, to the breast health center. for an ultrasound. we already had a CT scan, we didn’t want just an ultrasound, we wanted a biopsy. not having done any of this before, we had no idea what any of this meant. all we knew is what the doctor said–biopsy needs to happen. not just an ultrasound. the nurse realized that, too, thank god. i got on the phone with the scheduling center at the doctor’s office we were supposed to be seeing. this was monday. they wanted to make an appointment for the NEXT monday. REALLY? we’re not waiting a fucking week just to get a needle stuck in his neck. you’re out of your mind.

i called the receptionist at the family health center (we were literally like 2 blocks away still at the breast health center) absolutely fuming, and i told them they messed up our appointment. fix it. this is not ok. they told us to drive back to get it sorted out. the office coordinator took us into her office, apologized profusely, and she sat on hold with the doctor’s office for nearly half an hour and got us a radiology appointment for the next day to get the biopsy done. the next day was brett’s birthday.

happy birthday, here’s a needle in your jugular.

we woke up the next day and went to the hospital. the radiologist had other appointments that day during the same block, so we basically sat around waiting for an opening. i don’t know how, but we were in the room getting everything done in like 30 minutes or less. the doctor was probably 50-60 years old, and he came in with numbers, confidence, and he sounded hopeful that everything was going to be peachy. “it looks like it isn’t cancer. it’s round, clean, it looks benign.” we wouldn’t get results until friday, so hearing this was the next best thing compared to everything else we’d heard so far.

they kicked me out of the room, so i waited about 5 minutes and he was done. brett said it hurt like a sonofabitch, but at least it was over.

we immediately drove to the new carolina ale house down the street and sat at the bar. bar food, a few IPAs, me desperately trying to lighten the mood and provide some kind of reassurance that everything will be ok. i told the bartender it was brett’s birthday and that he just got a needle stuck in his neck–he needs free dessert. she said pick something off the menu, so we got fried apple pie and ice cream. it was amazing. and then she gave him a free shot of jager. he hates jager, but, it’s free and fuck needles. down the hatch.









his birthday was starting to be a little bit better–biopsy done, hearing what the doctor said gave us hope, free booze and ice cream always helps lift your spirits, our friends were coming over that night to hang out. positive thoughts and distractions all around.

amanda, andrew, paul, danielle, john, ashley, and jason came over. ashley and jason brought madi (caylin’s BFF) and their little baby reagan. i bought a giant cake from publix, paul and danielle brought the best mac and cheese i’ve ever had, jason brought a ton of beer (typical jason style), ashley brought a bottle of evan williams, andrew and amanda brought an insane amount of ricotta cookies and a bottle of jack. we played cards against humanity and hung out for a few hours. it was nice, and brett seemed to relax for a bit.


this was tuesday. we went to work the next 2 days, mostly because A) no point of sitting around waiting, and B) need to stay busy. especially brett.

fast forward 2 days, we woke up friday morning and dropped caylin off at my mom’s house. i met brett at the doctor’s office (the young guy at the family health center) where we would sit with him and find out the results. finally.

we sat down in the room, and 2 minutes later he came in. we were a ball of nerves. before he even said anything to us about the results, he apologized for not introducing himself earlier in the week. he looked nervous. my stomach was in my throat. brett was in another world entirely. i couldn’t stop staring at this man while he talked. the first words out of his mouth were “bad news”. it’s papillary carcinoma (thyroid cancer). there was a lot of other technical talk from him, followed by a story about his dad surviving cancer, and that everything is going to be ok, and he’s praying for us, and so on and so forth. none of which was comforting because this is all coming from the man who actually told us this very scenario was impossible. we want a new doctor, yesterday.

we made an appointment at the front office to talk to a surgeon–it wouldn’t be until 8/11. it was 8/1. again, you’ve got to be kidding me. lucky for us, ashley works in one of the cancer centers down here with amazing doctors. we called her and she got us an appointment with a surgeon on monday, 8/4, instead. we were both still completely freaked out but grateful. tomorrow can’t come soon enough. ashley said that brett will more than likely have a PET scan done, and we will know if it has spread anywhere (the initial CT scan showed nothing but we need to find out for sure). then i suppose we go on and decide if he needs radiation, and then surgery. surgery is pretty much a definite, hence the appointment tomorrow.

we left the office and sat in his truck for a while. this was all so surreal. he’s 27–how is this happening? we had been expecting good news, with that 4% in mind and all, so we had both planned on going back to work after the appointment. that plan was obviously off the table–definitely not going into the office. we were also supposed to go see a country band/luke combs play that night in murrell’s inlet with our neighbors. as soon as the doctor gave us the news, brett turned to me and said, “i can’t go tonight”. understandable–someone just told you you have cancer. we can do whatever the fuck you want, dude.

about an hour after we left the doctor, and a lot of phone calls, we had calmed down. brett decided he still wanted to go that night. let’s be real–what else are we gonna do besides sit at home and think about it until monday? so we went home, brett and i packed up our stuff, said bye to mom and caylin, and we were on the road.

we got there in an hour and 45 minutes, ish. beth and john were only 10 minutes behind us. we had dinner at wicked tuna. i had my first martini ever, and probably my last. we had like 4 different appetizers. fresh fish, sushi, sunset, right on the water, breeze, live music–it was really nice. just what we needed after that morning.

we walked down the street to bubba’s love shak after dinner. this little area we were in has like 6-7 bars/boardwalk/shops/music venues all crammed in. string lights everywhere, lots of people, tons to do. i don’t know how we’d never been there before. it was so awesome. we got to bubba’s and right when we walked in, luke was standing at the entrance talking to the rest of his band.

let me backtrack a little–luke combs is another appstate guy, absolutely incredible voice (understatement of the century). he has 2 EPs that brett and i both bought a while back. brett’s brother actually introduced us to his music several months ago because he knew the guy. brett has basically listened to it on repeat ever since and plays his youtube videos constantly. i give him so much shit because he runs these songs into the ground with how much he plays them in our garage, but it was his birthday week and my original plan was to surprise him with a trip to the beach to see this guy play. i planned this nearly a month ago well before the cancer scare, so this wasn’t exactly what i was expecting. of all the things to cheer him up in this situation, this was gonna be it.

brett walked up to him when we got there, visibly STOKED to meet him right away, told him how much he loved his stuff and how awesome he was, and we got settled at the bar which was nearly empty. we sat about 6 feet from where the band was setting up. luke and adam church started singing almost right away while people were trickling in. they both played guitar and sang and it just kept getting more awesome as the night went on.













i don’t know what got into beth when we got there, but she’s generally a lightweight and doesn’t drink much. maybe 1 or 2 light beers, and i have a hard time EVER getting her to take a shot with me even when we’re at home. she started ordering shot after shot, not to mention the 2 martinis she had at dinner and nearly the whole bottle of sake she drank on the WALK to bubba’s. i don’t know what got into her, but it was hilarious. brett was even like, dude, slow down. we can’t keep up. i stopped drinking pretty early, but she and i danced nearly the whole last half of the night.

the band was amazing, all night long. they played for like 5 hours straight. i bought bubba’s tshirts and had the band sign them, brett sat at the bar with luke after the show for like half an hour and talked. i ran around after the show talking to everyone. we were all drenched in sweat.

everyone piled in the truck around 2-2:30 and we made the 30 minute drive to the condo in the pouring rain and lightning. we got to the condo and we were starving. there was nothing in the fridge except frozen meatballs, so i called to order pizza and we gave them john’s number, the pizza guy got lost, john didn’t realize he left his phone in the truck, we never got our pizza and went to bed. john had 16 missed calls from a pissed off pizza guy when we woke up in the morning, and we drove home. WHAT A NIGHT!

at this point, we are anxiously waiting for tomorrow to make sure this thing hasn’t spread anywhere. the doctor was confident that it hasn’t, but now we’re just hesitant to believe anything until the results are final. if it hasn’t spread, this should be relatively “simple” from what we’ve been told. remove his thyroid and be done with it. brett’s grandmother just went through this exact same thing in the last few months.

we’re supposed to go to vegas thursday for DEF CON, and brett still wants to go. it’s non-refundable, so that sucks. but if anything comes back that shows anything unexpected (god forbid), it’s off the table for sure. hoping for some answers tomorrow and a clear path forward, finally.

i still haven’t done caylin’s 23 month blog, with everything that’s been going on, so here goes. she’s only gotten crazier over the past month.

  • she says “mine” all the time now. everything is “mine”. really trying hard to put an end to that one.
  • she started saying thank you, but she always says it when handing you things. working on it :)
  • her new favorite nap time activity is pulling wipes out of the wipe warmer and shoving them down the diaper genie. and also her entire wardrobe. nothing better than all your clothes smelling like your dirty diapers. it’s disgusting. i’ve walked in on her doing it a few times and she knows she’s doing something she’s not supposed to be doing because she freaks out when i walk in. she didn’t do it today, so we’ll see how this week goes. so gross.
  • we can’t go anywhere now without her baby doll, and she definitely can’t sleep without it. her bedtime routine is growing longer by the day. her seahorse that plays music turned on, her socks have to be perfect, and her water HAS to be filled up right before she goes to bed or she’ll just sit there and cry, “more water!” unbelievable. i read her 3 books, and lately she’s requested the ABC song. many nights it’s all of those mixed up and repeated.
  • since she was a newborn, she has had an issue with cradle cap. it only got worse as she got older, but the doctor said it would go away on its own. well, it didn’t. and so her hair started coming OUT with it. in clumps. it nearly broke my heart seeing it come out by the handful, and she’s just at the point where it can reach a ponytail, too. so we bought her special shampoo and it seems to be helping.
  • she still helps me with my shower routine in the morning, but now she also likes to help with my makeup. she loves lipstick, and is less worried about nail polish this month. mostly just lipstick. she is beyond obsessed with shoes and trying them on and showing them off to daddy. bracelets, necklaces, beads, dresses, purses the whole 9 yards. girls will be girls! she flings her purse over her shoulder, gets her shopping cart, and prances around the kitchen talking about how she’s going to the store. so cute. publix has rubbed off on her.






















she’s definitely a handful, and has so much personality. i don’t see her slowing down anytime soon.

this whole experience is unreal. you never know what’s in store for you. hopefully this week will clear up a lot of questions and he will be on the road to recovery soon. the odds are in his favor, and we’re hopeful. fingers crossed.