To get caught up on her journey first, here are the links:
Part 1: The Strength Beneath the Pink
Part 2: Releasing Vanity
Part 3: See Beneath The Beautiful
Part 4: The RED Savior
For updates, follow her story on Facebook
To help, visit: Care for Lyndsie
To become her friend, she created a page just for all of you. Just ask here
It’s time. Time to get this cancer out of her body. You have followed her story up until this day, knowing it would come. The day she would have a double mastectomy to remove the massive tumor from her breast. The time that 18 infected lymph nodes would be removed to keep the cancer from spreading to her organs. The time her mom would finally shed her first tear for her daughter.
6 months ago Lyndsie heard the most dreaded sets of words to enter a woman’s ear. Breast Cancer. Malignant. Lymph nodes. Possibly spread. You had it while you were pregnant.
It was then that Lyndsie decided to fight. Here is the email I got from Lyndsie on July 10th, 2013.
(On Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 8:40 PM, Lyndsie Blythe wrote: )
Hi Emily,We don’t know each other but have a mutual friend which you have taken pictures for before in Chicago. I have a question for you and I don’t even know if it is feasible and I apologize in advance because this is going to be a loaded question and emailI was just told this week that I have stage three invasive breast cancer. I go in next week to start my chemo treatments and within 6 months will have to have a double mastectomy. I have two children ages 8 months, and 23 months. It was a blow to find out I even had breast cancer and an even bigger blow to my heart to find out I would have to have chemo to get rid of this cancer. With the doctors telling me that I will have to have chemo they also told me inevitably I will loose all my hair. -Since you don’t know me you wouldn’t know that my hair goes down a bit lower than my chest so loosing my locks is kicking me when I’m already down, heartbreaking to me. . I too have a love for photography but don’t however have many pictures of my family since I am always the one taking the photos.Even though we don’t much money right now, I told my husband that I wanted to have some family pictures taken before I go in for chemo and loose all my hair. I have a few loaded question for you. Would you be able to shoot a few photos for my family and I this coming weekend? Possibly anytime Saturday or Sunday? Im not sure how much we can afford right now, but I want to make this work if we can.Please don’t feel like you have to do this, I just wanted to throw the idea out there and see what, if anything was feasible.Thank you in advance for your time.Kindest Regards,
Lyndsie Blythe—————-Well of course I said yes. She pulled at my heart strings from the minute she said breast cancer. And there was NO way I was charging her even a dime. I met Lyndsie that Saturday. She and I connected the minute we hopped out of our cars. At that moment, I asked her, “hey, what if we follow you and do an entire story for you. Something positive to keep your head up a bit and to keep your mind off treatment?” I barely finished my sentence before she lunged and hugged me. It was decided.We have since met for photo shoots following her story. We did the first one to document really her hair, but it turned into something way more. It ended up being a documentary of her with her family. Showing Lyndise with the loves of her life.After chemo started her hair started to thin. It was time to cut it. We documented it. She cried. I cried after in the car. Her husband, mom, sister and best friend all smiled and cheered. She was taking this head on and looked beautiful with all those feet of hair gone. This moment was the hardest on Lyndsie. It was the time she realized everything was going to be an uphill battle from here.Not too long later, her hair started thinning in the shower. She didn’t want to experience that anymore so decide to shave it. I have never seen her happier. It was like she was shaving off everything that was wrong. It was awesome.Chemo continued. Lyndsie kept up her daily routine of working, being a mom and a wife, all while being totally exhausted. However, after every chemo session, Lyndsie RAN. She ran for her health, her sanity, and because it felt good. Amazing.After her chemo was complete, Lyndsie was sad. Sad she was not going in weekly to blast out all that horrible cancer from her body. She anxiously awaited the day of her double mastectomy, knowing that was one more necessary step to ridding her body from cancer.To this day her mother, Cyndie, had not shed a tear for Lyndsie. She told me “Emily, you know what? Im not sad Lynds has cancer, I’m sad she has to go through all of this. I trust God, but this is so unfair”. She went on to tell me about being strong for her daughter. Never letting her know how sad she was. Being there for her child by caring for her grandchildren during all her treatments. Her mom really wanted to be her rock. She also really wanted to be there with her during all her chemo treatments, but knew she was needed elsewhere. That was her place. So when the time came for her surgery, she finally was able to cry. I think seeing your child go into surgery then seeing how they look when they come out would rip any heart out of any mother. Watching her that afternoon when Lyndsie came out of the recovery room was heartbreaking. Her dad later came in as well and did everything in his power to hold back his tears. Her sister Tracie of course was as strong as ever, but you could tell she was looking away to keep the tears in. Jared, her husband, was Jared. The perfect husband. I look up to him more than he knows for being the person that he is.I got to the hospital, after our massive snow storm (so it took me a bit to get there seeing they were all there before 6am! 🙂 ). Lyndsie was already in the prep room getting ready to talk to the docs about her procedure. Many different doctors came in. Her anesthesiologist (who was amazing and we had some good laughs over our mutual love of photography), her super nice plastic surgeon, her main surgeon, all the nurses and students and chickens and cows. Kidding 🙂 But everyone seemed to go talk to Lynsdie.They drew on her with marker to indicate which breasts were to be taken. Both of course. The wrote “port” on her pillow on the side where her port was so they would remember to remove it. Once she was given her anesthesia, they rolled her away, Jared kissed her for good luck, and it was time to wait. Jared and I stood in her prep room kinda quiet for a few minutes before we walked back to the waiting room where her family was. We gave each other a big hug, and went back with the rest to wait. Lyndsies sister was of course asleep :), Lyndsies and Jareds mothers were hanging out and Lyndsies dad was talking a walk around the hospital. I decided I would go home as they said she would be in surgery for 5-6 hours. Jared called me and kept me updated and I came back and waited with them a few hours so I would be able to be there when she came out of recovery.That part was hard. Thats when Lyndsies mom cried. She was yellow. She was swollen and full of fluid drains. She was freezing or hot. Moaning in pain from the extensive surgery she had just entailed. They let us know they were able to put in her stretchers right away for her new breasts. The surgery was a very invasive, painful procedure and she would need weeks to heal. That begin said, as soon as she could talk, I of course had to get her smiling. The hard part was keeping her from laughing. Probably not the best idea to let her know her new stretchers have given her new perky boobs. But we got a good laugh and I know she appreciates me being so blunt with her. Keeps things a little less dramatic if at all possible 🙂 What are girlfriends for, anyways? 🙂Let me tell you about this amazing woman. Here I am there being with her during all of this. I kept forgetting to video because I felt like I was intruding. It was odd. I didn’t want her surgery and her recovery to be about a blog post. Thats not what it’s about. I got the moments I needed and decided to be there as her friend first. Pictures and video were just a bonus for her to have to show her children one day. So though all this, she wakes up, can barely talk, and tells me she has a present. For ME! Im not kidding you. She made me the most AMAZING bracelet with writing on there about that first rainbow we saw. On our first shoot, there was the BIGGEST double rainbow with NO rain but miles away. It was God. We are sure of it. I love her so much.Her recovery was not easy. She had two very sick kids at home, she was living on pain meds to control the unbearable pain she was enduring, and she kept having to go in to get her drains checked, her chest filled, etc. Her mom was there every step of the way to help. Her family is for real amazing. I love them all so much. God put them in my life to stay.You see, the story of her life is not just about what people are to her. Its about what she is to each person. Everyone who cares for her has a story, and Lyndsie plays a part in the story of their lives as well.She will start radiation in a few weeks. There is one catch. They have now found another swollen lymph node behind her clavicle. They think it was there prior to the surgery and it was most likely blasted well from the chemo, like the others were. But they will do 2 extra weeks of radiation on that one just to be sure. Of course this has thrown her for a loop, but she’s tough as nails. Plus God is in control and he can make this all go poof, per her words :).Here are some highlights from my day with her at her surgery. Please pray for her to continue to heal. I hope in a few months my subsequent posts will be about how long she’s been cancer free. Until next time…..