14 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Kansas City

I love Valentine’s Day—always have, always will. Any excuse to celebrate love, I’m in! And there is no shortage of fun ways to celebrate Love Day in Kansas City. Here are 14 ways to celebrate in Crown Town.

1. I woke up like this. And you should too! A staycation at the gorgeous Kansas City Marriott Downtown is the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Grab your toothbrush and some pajamas, and they take care of the rest. You can spend your entire visit lounging in your comfy bed, binging all your favorite Netflix shows, and dining on room service. Or you can enjoy a delicious dinner at Metropolitan KC, their on-site restaurant. (Gnocchi, Brussels, and chocolate all on the same menu…?!) Sleep late and make sure to grab breakfast before you return to reality. Book your V-Day visit, and you will leave feeling rested, refreshed, and completely spoiled!

2. Rollin with my main homie—That’s another fun way to celebrate V-Day! Grab a scooter or bike, and create your own crawl through downtown KC. I’ve got a full blog post about crawling the Crossroads, but there are so many options in our city. We recently did our first crawl through North Kansas City and found so many fun spots.

3. You say chocoholic, I say cocoa enthusiast. Don’t be a Negative Nancy. Panache Chocolatier in Park Place is your spot for the sweetest (pun definitely intended) lil chocolate and coffee Valentine’s date. It’s the cutest shop with delicious award-winning chocolate. (Yes, that’s a thing, and I’m still trying to figure out how I become a judge…) You can design your own tasting experience, or take the recommendations of their incredibly knowledgeable team. (Pro Tip: Take the recommendation.) Either way, you’re sure to have the best time! Also, they have the best gift sets for your Valentine, Galentine, Palentine, Yourselfentine…

4. Shopping, but I don’t have to hide the bags?! Tell me more…If you’re looking for a unique idea for this Valentine’s, a shopping date is the way to go! Make that dinner reservation, but before you dine, make a couple of stops to pick outfits for one another. (Yes ladies, he gets to pick your attire. But you finally get the chance to ditch his faded polo. Allegedly… ) Make it silly or make it serious—either way, you’re in for a great time! And if your dude is anything like mine, dressing room try-on sessions are not his favorite pass time, but I promise if Indium Intimates is one of your stops, no one will be complaining.

5. Okay so not every Valentine’s comes with the time, the money, or the babysitter for an extravagant date. Totally cool, because all you need is a cute lil Heart Day sweatshirt, a bucket of popcorn, and a movie or Netflix marathon on the couch at home, and you’re still in for a great night with your boo.

6. It’s all fun and games until you beat me at skeeball, and then I hope you like sleeping on the couch.Okay, okay so maybe I’m a “little” competitive, but there’s really nothing like acting like a kid with my PIC. We love Up Down Kansas City and it’s such a great spot for Valentine’s Day! Tons of games, yummy food, a full bar, and even a photo booth to commemorate your date. They have lots of V-Day specials, so pay them a visit with your Player 2!

7. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t. Solid words from Elle Woods to live by on Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a workout in the basement gym, trading sets on your favorite weight floor, or taking that class you’ve been dying to try, getting your heart pumping on Heart Day is a really fun way to celebrate. Bonus? No makeup required and two words: yoga.pants. Yaaasss!!!

8. When I suggested a couples massage during our 5th anniversary trip in Mexico, I never could have known that I would turn my husband into a bougie lil spa Stan. Now the dude loves to get a massage on the regular. Our favorite day spa in Kansas City is, hands down, Bijin Salon in Shops of Prairie Village . Over the years, I’ve had several treatments, and they always make me feel so relaxed and pampered. (I’ve honestly considered moving into their steam room.) In addition, Chad B. knows that a gift certificate for Bijin is ALWAYS a good choice. So this Valentine’s, put on your comfies, and spend some time getting the VIP treatment with your VIP at your favorite spa!

9. Wait. I get to make a mess in someone else’s kitchen and there’s no dishes? Sign. Me. Right. Up. Over the last several years, Chad and I have taken a few cooking classes for our V-Day celebration, and each time, we have a blast! From pizza tossing at 1889 Pizza to steak and salmon at Lenexa Public Market, we’ve learned a few new tricks, met fun new friends, and got to spend time together in the kitchen that wasn’t rushed or interrupted by a tiny foodie. I highly recommend a cooking class for your Heart Day celebration, so if you’ve been considering it, go for it!

10. Running into Valentine’s week (and toward the wine) like…Three of our favorite wineries in Kansas City are KC Wine Co, Stone Pillar, and KC Wine Works, and any of these would be a great choice for a Valentine’s Day wine tasting! From novice to junior sommelier, you’re sure to learn something new and have a great time in the process! Each of these spots host special events to celebrate Heart Day, so check out their schedules. And if you’re not local to KC, check out your favorite local winery to see how you can say Cheers too!

11. What a fun and delicious Valentine’s date idea (especially if you’re short on time)— go somewhere for dessert only! Share a slice or grab a couple of options, and connect over sweet confections. (Side Note: This also makes for a really good family date too. Also, more people = more desserts.) If you’re local to Kansas City, there are so many options, but we love Decadent in Prairiefire for a dessert date. If you go, make sure you get the Lemon Berry Marscarpone Cake. IYKYK

12. When we’re feeling a little disconnected, we opt for a dinner date at home. Mini foodie goes to bed, plates hit the table, wine fills the glass, and we talk. This is another great option for Heart Day if you don’t feel like braving the cold or crowds, don’t want to shell out money for a fancy dinner or sitter, or if you just want to wear pajama pants. We do typically pick up a dessert from André’s, McLain’s, or Dolce, but we cook the rest. I’ve got tons of recipes on the blog that would be great to make.

13. What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh it’s only the best day of the year…Ladies celebrating ladies! For those that may not be familiar with the holiday, the concept is pretty simple: Celebrating female friendships the day before we get a visit from Cupid. If you need ideas of how to have the best day with your besties, check out my recent TravelHost Kansas City article for ways to celebrate with your girl gang! Not that any of us need an excuse to plan a Girls Night, but just in case, Galentine’s Day is it!

14. If we’ve been friends for a while, you know that Chad and I love a progressive date night. I have a few blog posts about this, but you can also do it Strang Hall style! Apply the same formula—start with drinks at one place, apps at the next, entrees at the next, and one last stop for dessert—but we never had to leave the warmth of one building! No planning, no reservations, and no fancy dress required.

I hope you have the best Valentine’s Day, no matter how you choose to celebrate!


Molly B.

No Bake Oat-Free Protein Balls

Yea, yea, yea, we’ve established that I have a serious thing for protein bars, balls, and bites. And I love making my own too! A friend recently asked if I had a recipe for a protein ball that did not use oats. No, but let’s give it a shot! I am really excited about what I made. Check out these No Bake Oat Free Protein Balls:


  • 2 scoops protein powder (I used chocolate Arbonne.)
  • 3/4 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter.)
  • 4 tbsp milk of choice (I used almond milk.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


• Mix all ingredients until it forms a dough consistency.

• Roll into balls and place in refrigerator for 1 hour before eating.

• Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.



Molly B.

The Perfect Perfect Bar Dupe

We’ve probably talked about this before, but I am a protein bar junkie. I’m always down to try new brands and flavors, but I definitely have my favorites. One of which is Perfect Bar. They’re just so good, and they are incredibly filling! They’re packed with lots of nutritious stuff too, but I’m no expert on that. My only issues are that they aren’t available at every store yet, and they’re also pretty pricey. When I find a sale, I stock up big time! But I’ve been wondering if I could replicate them at home. I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday, and these are pretty dang close! The flavor and texture is spot on, but how do I cram all that kale and alfalfa in there?!

Check it out and let me know what you think!


1 cup Natural Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Agave Nectar (You can also use honey.)

2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (I used Arbonne.)

1/8 cup Chocolate Chips


• Stir together peanut butter and agave.

• Heat in microwave for 1 minute.

• Stir in protein powder until fully combined. This will make a dough-like consistency.

• Spread into a 8×8 baking dish. (I prefer to use a silicone baking dish.)

• Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

• Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

• After at least 1 hour, remove from refrigerator and cut into your desired size. (I like to make bites instead of bars.)

• Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Molly B.

Kansas City Restaurant Week 2020

Quite possibly my favorite week of the year in Crown Town–Kansas City Restaurant Week.  When Chad and I first moved to Kansas City, we determined that it was our mission to eat our way through our new city.  We moved to KC in January, so it was perfect timing to kick off our exploration through this annual event.  And we’ve been enjoying it every year since!

Kansas City Restaurant Week is a 10-day event (This year is January 10-19.) where you can dine at hundreds of local restaurants.  This is the perfect way to try new places, visit those spots you’ve been dying to try, or to visit your favorites.  No matter what you decide, you’re sure to have a great time, at a discounted price.

Each participating restaurant offers a special multicourse menu, all of either $15 for lunch or $35 for dinner.  And often times, they will feature dishes that you can only get during this week, and some offer drink specials as well.

In addition, restaurants pledge to donate 10 percent of sales from each meal to benefit an annual charity partner and two founding beneficiaries.  The 2020 charity partner is The Don Bosco Centers.

This year, I was fortunate enough to attend a preview event at Parkway Social on the Country Club Plaza.  A few local bloggers and influencers got the opportunity to sample the menu, taste some wines from Platinum sponsor Robert Mondavi, and host a giveaway giving locals a chance to win a gift card to use for their own visit to Parkway.  It was a great way to kick off the week, learn a little bit more about how the event impacts our community, and the eat lots of yummy food.

So now to my plans for the 2020 event…Chad and I have a rule to use this week to try restaurants that we’ve never visited.  This year, I made three reservations at new-to-me spots.

First up was a girls night at Plate in Brookside.  We met at 5:30 on a snowy Saturday night, and everything was perfect from the second we walked in the door to the careful walk to our cars on the frozen sidewalks.  Plate was also offering their happy hour during this time, so we took advantage of their wine specials.  All of us decided to order from the Restaurant Week menu (of course), and we each ordered different items.  For my first course, I ordered the Italian salad.  My second course, the main entrée was a faro dish.  The menu had four main courses listed, all of which contained meat.  I asked for one to be modified, and they came back with the offer to create a vegetarian dish, which was such a generous and lasting experience.  I’m so glad I took them up on the offer, because it was exceptional!  And finally, my dessert was the Trio, which was an incredible chocolate and caramel concoction that tasted like a creamy chocolate crusted Werther’s.  Incredible.

Next was a Friday lunch date at Grand Street with a girlfriend. We were both had to return to work, so there were no cocktails or lingering conversations, but we enjoyed a quick and delicious visit. At most restaurants, the lunch menu is a two-course offering, as was the case here. I landed on the Arugula Salad and the Butternut Squash Ravioli, which was the perfect choice for a cold KC day. The ability to still enjoy a beautiful lunch when you’re in a rush on a workday is one of the best things about KC Restaurant Week.

My third and final visit was a date night at Lazia at the Crossroads Hotel. The Crossroads Hotel is certainly a hot spot in our city. With its swanky, yet historic setting, it’s the place to be on any night of the week. We were seated at a table right by one of the two vaults in the building that belonged to Tom Pendergast, and this bank nerd was thrilled. We started with cocktails–a glass of Malbec for me and a Dual Intersect for Chad, which is the Crossroads collaboration beer with Double Shift Brewing. Although we were in for a filling meal, we took our server’s suggestion to start with an order of their arancini, and we were so glad we did. Between that and the complementary house-made focaccia, we were worried we might be too full to continue. But we didn’t worry for too long, because it was time to get started on our courses. For our first course, we ordered a Caesar Salad and House Salad and shared both. We had our respective favorite but agreed that both were fantastic. The second course was the entree, and we ordered the Artic Char and the Pomodoro and shared. Both were so flavorful, and we ate every single bite! And the final course–dessert, my favorite. We ordered both the Buttermilk Panna Cotta and the Tiramisu. And yes, we shared, but Chad always lets me have significantly more. These were so fabulous, but the tiramisu definitely stole the show for me. They make it in house, and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. We finished our visit with craft cocktails at the XR Bar in the lobby. Everything from start to finish was exceptional!

So here are a few things you need to know about Kansas City Restaurant Week:

  • You need reservations!  These restaurants book up early and fast, so plan ahead and grab a spot.
  • Use the KCRW app.  It has all of the restaurants listed, you can add favorites, you can view the menus, and you can make reservations at most of the restaurants.  One central location for everything you need to plan your week.
  • Sometimes the menus online/on the app do not match the menu when you get to the restaurant.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that, because it is so popular, they run out of things and have to modify.  Be patient, grant grace, and move on to another option.
  • Follow KCRW on social media.  They post updates, feature restaurants, and offer giveaways for many of the restaurants.

Did you get out and about for KC Restaurant Week this year? Where did you go?


Molly B.

The Best Oklahoma (Not Texas) Caviar

Growing up in my house, lucky black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day were a mandatory practice. There was no way my mom was letting you go to bed that night without at least one bite. And even as an adult, I got a phone call (and later text) to confirm that I had my beans. Here’s the thing—I hate black eyed peas. When I was little, I would literally gag when made to take my bite. (Maybe a little dramatic, but not my favorite nonetheless.) So when I was at a cookout one time and I was going full savage on a dip only to realize that it contained black-eyed peas, I was shocked. I immediately asked for that recipe, and I’ve made my own variation every New Year’s Day since. I serve with tortilla chips, but you can put it on top of burgers, on top of nachos, or even as a side dish with your protein. I know you’ll love it!


2 (15 oz.) cans black eyed peas, drained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) corn
1 can Rotel (15 oz.)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced cilantro
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons lime juice


Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, or up to 24 hours. (Best if chilled overnight.)



Molly B.

The Easiest Bell Pepper Nachos

Nachos might be the most perfect bar food ever created. I’ve literally never heard a soul say, “Nah, I don’t’ like nachos.” I mean tortilla chips for one thing. And then whatever you want to add to the top…the possibilities are endless. (And delicious.)

One of my favorite nacho toppings is guacamole. I love guac and will find any excuse to eat it—extra or not. One day, I was dipping some mini bell peppers into guacamole, and it hit me—Bell Pepper Nachos. Tons of flavor and extra veggies—Win, Win!

Here is my super easy recipe that everyone in our family (including my PB&J-loving toddler) loves!



12 sweet mini bell peppers

Topping Suggestions:

  • 8 oz. protein of choice (taco meat, chicken, veggie crumbles, etc.)
  • sliced black olives
  • black beans
  • shredded cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • scallions
  • guacamole



  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Slice off and discard the stem end of each pepper. Remove and discard seeds. Slice each pepper in half lengthwise, and lay them on the baking sheet, cut sides down.
  • Bake for 5 minutes. Flip pepper halves. Bake until soft, about 5 more minutes.
  • Arrange them in the center of the cooking sheet. Top with protein, beans, and cheese.
  • Bake until cheese has melted, about 3 minutes.
  • Top with salsa, sour cream, scallions, guacamole, whatever you choose.


I hope you enjoy, and I can’t wait to see what you create!


Molly B.

My Top 10 Favorite Products of 2019

2019 was such a fun year! But shockingly, I actually didn’t do a ton of shopping. However, I did make a few purchases that top my list. Here is a roundup of my top ten favorite products from the year.

1. Spanx Faux Leather Leggings

2. Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Styler

3. Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick

4. Stella & Dot Black Quilted Crush It Backpack

5. Tan-Luxe Self-Tan Drops

6. J. Crew Factory Long Puffer Jacket

7. e.l.f. Complete Skin Care Regimen

8. Rubbermaid Refill Reuse Water Bottles

9. Function of Beauty

10. Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray

What were some of your favorite finds in 2019?


Molly B.

Last Minute Gifts and Glam at Corinth Square

As I mentioned in a previous post, I love pockets of Kansas City where I can get a lot accomplished without ever getting in my car. So with a full day of vacation, a lingering last minute gift list, and some self care needs (literally) staring me in the face, Corinth Square is the spot to get everything accomplished.

When you visit, start your day with some fuel from Hattie’s Fine Coffee. Grab your favorite caffeinated beverage and a fresh baked pastry, find a cozy spot, or take it with you.

Now that you’re awake, get your glam out of the way. Corinth has so many options: The Lash Lounge for all of your lash and brow needs, Sopra Salon & Spa for any of your beauty treatments, Hudson Hawk Barber & Shop for the fellas, and even a CVS, a tailor shop for those alterations, and Power Life Yoga if you need some zen.

With the beauty necessities out of the way, let’s get the shopping done!

Tyler Kingston is your spot for unique home decor, clothing, and accessories, and gifts for anyone on your list.

Stop by Wooten Liquors for the holiday booze, and a few bottles of wine for those hostess gifts.

For any minis on your list, The Learning Tree is my favorite toy store in the city, where you can find the perfect gift for any age.

To shop all things local, Made in KC has a location in the square where you can find representation of over 250 local businesses and makers.

Don’t forget about all your furry friends! Land of Paws has you covered for treats, bandanas, or even a costume your pet is sure to “love.”

For any of the ladies in your life, or if you’re still in need of holiday looks, In Clover Women’s Clothing & Boutique has a great selection of clothing, accessories, and other unique gift items.

By now you’re hungry, so it’s time for some seasonal cuisine from Urban Table, one of the best pizzas in the city at Spin! Pizza, delicious Mexican food from Salty Iguana, or a burger and truffle tots from BRGR.

Before you leave the square, make sure to get your baked goodies from Great Harvest Bread Co. Lots of options for parties, gifts, or breakfast on Christmas morning!

And because you will undoubtedly be tired of cooking and of leftovers, your last stop is at Social Suppers or EAT FIT GO for pre-made meals to stock your fridge and freezer for after the holidays.

After a trip to Corinth, I am completely finished with my holiday shopping, and I’m looking fabulous for our celebrations!

The Square has events throughout the year, so make sure you are following them on social media to stay up to date and plan to visit them soon.


Molly B.

A Day of Holiday Shopping At Park Place

It’s rare that you can find a place in a large city that has everything you need all in one walkable area.  Unless you’re in Kansas City, because we do this well.  It’s actually one of the things I love most about our city.  Country Club Plaza, Brookside, Briarcliff, Town Center, just to name a few…Kansas City has so many areas where you can eat, shop, and play without losing your parking spot.

In my effort to support as many local businesses, makers, and entrepreneurs as possible this holiday season, I have to get very strategic about where to focus my energy.  Since I won’t be adding 21 items to an Amazon cart, hitting order, and letting the delivery man curse my name day after day, I need a solid game plan on how to cross names off my list, get thoughtful gifts, and try not to exhaust myself (or my vehicle) in the process.  Enter some of my favorite Fitbit-satisfying parts of the city.

Park Place in the center of Leawood is one of the best places to get a ton of holiday shopping, all while sprinkling in some fun for yourself in a beautiful setting.  One of a kind boutiques, unique restaurants, specialty food shops, desserts, beauty services, and even fitness studios line the beautiful flower-decorated sidewalks.

First things first, you’re going to want to start your day at t.Loft. Grab a coffee, latte, or protein shake to get your energy going.  If you haven’t had your breakfast yet, you will want to order one of their inventive breakfast bowls.  And if you’ve already eaten, you still need one of their protein balls.

Now that you’re fueled up, you’re ready to hit the shops!  You will be able to find gifts for anyone on your list with the merchants in Park Place.  All of these stores are local to Kansas City, so you are sure to find one-of-a-kind gifts that your friends and family will treasure forever.

Let’s start with the kiddos!  Learning Tree has always been one of our family favorites.  With gifts for all ages, in all price ranges, for all interests.  My favorite thing about the store is that everything is marked with age suggestions, so I always know that I’m getting the best gift for my little guy, or our niece, and our nephews.  They also have one of the largest collections of children’s books, including a special section just for the holidays.  And the best part?  They offer free gift wrapping!  And it’s certainly better than anything I’ve taped together.

Next up…the Fellas. My hubby is a big fan of fun socks, so Geno’s Clothiers is always on my list when shopping for my guy. Or stop by The Gents Place to grab him a gift card for a little man-pering by way of a modern barbershop.

There are certainly no shortage of shops for any ladies on your list. At the top of my list is Pink Antlers Studio, a gift shop specializing in home decor, party supplies, and just the right gifts for anyone on your list. Add to your personal decor, pick out the perfect greeting card, or scoop up a gift that’s sure to wow the receiver.

HAND & LAND offers a variety of wellness-inspired products, including skin care, home goods, beauty products, and even gift sets.

And for the gift that’s made for anyone on your list–chocolate! Panache Chocolatier is a beautiful chocolate shop that offers award-winning chocolates, gift sets, and a full coffee bar. Grab a gift and a midday pick-me-up before continuing your travels.

Don’t forget about the gift of experience!  You could also grab a gift card to Breakout KC for them to solve riddles, codes, and puzzles to escape from one of several themed rooms, or Pinot’s Palette a paint and sip experience where they can create their own pieces while sipping and mingling.

If you still need the perfect dress for an upcoming holiday party, Alysa Rene Boutique has you covered.  A blend of the latest women’s fashion and classic pieces, they specialize in unique styles and designer labels.  Shop for yourself, or find a gift for your favorite fashionista.  And if you need to finish the look, KC Lashes, Le Reve Nail Salon, and Timothy Weber: A Hair Salon are all in the center to get you feeling glam.

By now, you’ve worked up an appetite, and there are lots of options.  Burger Fi has some of the best burgers in the city (including a killer veggie burger), the yummiest fries, and decadent frozen custard desserts.  Pickleman’s is a fast casual sandwich shop with the freshest offerings.  And if you’re feeling more of a happy hour vibe, they’ve got that too. The Ainsworth offers classic American favorites and signature cocktails.  Set in a swanky lounge-like atmosphere, RA Sushi is the perfect spot to end your day.  And my personal happy hour favorite, Pig & Finch Gastropub offers an inventive food offering and an extensive bar menu.

In addition to the shopping and dining, Park Place offers special holiday events throughout the season. Make sure to check out Santa Saturdays, complete with Santa himself and the Dickens Carolers. The Ice at Park Place, a beautiful ice rink in the middle of the center, is open through February 17th, so grab your friends and family for some holiday fun.

If you’re short on time and looking to complete your shopping all in one spot…Or if you’re simply looking for an immersive holiday shopping experience…Park Place is your go to spot!

I hope you visit this holiday season and that you have the best day!


Molly B.

Cancer Action Champions for Survivorship 2018

Cancer Action is such an important agency to our family.  I’ve been involved with them for almost 9 years, and last year, I was asked to speak at their annual Champions for Survivorship Breakfast.  Here is the speech I gave about my personal cancer story and my love for Cancer Action.


Good Morning!

When you decided to attend this morning’s breakfast, you probably weren’t expecting to hear someone tell you a love story. But something you should know about me is that I love big, and I love hard. So a love story is what you’re getting this morning.

I met my husband, Chad, when I was 19 years old. The night we met, he asked for my phone number, but the screen on his flip phone was cracked, so he asked me to write it down on a piece of paper he pulled out of his wallet. The piece of paper had two other girls’ names and phone numbers on it, so I threw it in the trash, wrote my name and number on a paper towel, and said something really smooth about how it was the only number he would ever need. That night, I knew two things: 1) neither one of us had any game, and 2) I was in love. That second thing took some more convincing on his part. (Probably because I do things like tell embarrassing stories in front of a couple hundred strangers.) But eventually I did, and we were married in June 2007. I was 24 years old.

Shortly after our wedding, we bought our first house in a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we were both born and raised. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to entertain in our new home. At the beginning of November 2007, we threw a big housewarming party and invited all of our friends into our new home. We had so much fun…maybe a little too much fun. The next morning, I had a terrible headache, but I assumed it was from all that fun I mentioned before. But it didn’t go away. For several days, every day, I had a headache. And not just your typical, “I can take some Aspirin” type of headache, because believe me, I tried that. It was debilitating. It was hard to focus; it made me nauseous; I could barely make it through the day at work. But like so many of us have done before, I tried to power through, thinking it would get better. Finally, on a day off from work, I decided to go to the doctor. He asked very few questions and determined that I was having migraines. Made sense to me, so I took that answer, filled the prescription, and felt satisfied that I would wake up the next day feeling better. But I didn’t. In fact, the headaches got worse, and I was nauseous all the time. I would somehow make it through the day at work, come home, and immediately go to bed. Not a great way to spend our first few months of marriage.

I would call the doctor’s office almost every day, and I would get comments about how the medicine takes time to work, and if I didn’t feel better in 6-8 weeks, I could come back to explore other options. One day, I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I walked in the doors of my doctor’s office with no appointment, determined to get answers. I was told that my doctor was not in, but the Physician’s Assistant would be able to see me if I was okay to wait for a bit. It didn’t take long before I was in an exam room speaking with a nurse and eventually the PA. We went through my symptoms, and I finally felt like someone was listening. And then she asked, “Have we done a pregnancy test?” My first reaction was to laugh, but I said, “Oh no, I’m on birth control, and we just got married. I’m not pregnant.” Apparently I slept through middle school biology with that answer. Thankfully she persisted with having me take a test, “just in case.” A few short minutes later, she came in the room, smiling, “Congratulations!” But she must have seen the look of confusion, or fear, or whatever, on my face, because her smile faded. She told me that my test was positive, and I was pregnant. Of course Chad and I had planned to have children, just not this quick. But my bigger concern was the effect the migraine medicine might have had on this surprise of ours. Thankfully, the doctor shared my concern, spoke to my OBGYN, and was able to get me an appointment the following day.

At this time, Chad was working the night shift at work, so his days were spent catching up on sleep. After my appointment, I drove straight home and didn’t think twice about waking him up from his precious sleep. If I was going to be freaked out, he was along for the ride! I woke him up, and he listened to me and watched me cry through his groggy eyes. Always the calmer side of our relationship, he assured me that everything would be fine, and we would get some answers the following day.

We went to the doctor the next afternoon, and I was immediately taken to an ultrasound room with a tech. I will never forget this sweet girl’s face as she searched that small little screen for some good news to share. At the time, I didn’t know a thing about ultrasounds, but I knew her silence meant something was wrong. She said that I could go ahead and get dressed, and I would want to get my husband from the waiting room and meet her, and the doctor, in an exam room.

Chad and I waited in that room for what seemed like an eternity. When the doctor entered the room, her normal positive and upbeat demeanor seemed to have been left in the hall. The conversation that followed was, and still is, a blur. “You were pregnant, but you’re not, but we need to do surgery, and HcG levels, but chemo, but not, and 1 in 3 million women, but everything will be okay.” My head was spinning, but I was able to determine that my positive pregnancy test was caused by a tumor that had formed in my uterus, and I needed to have surgery the following morning to remove it. I made the necessary arrangements to have the day off from work, and I told them I would be back the following Monday morning.

The next morning, I had the surgery, everything went well, I went home to sleep it off, and I was back at work on Monday. The doctor did tell me that I would need to have bloodwork done every week for 4 weeks to ensure they “got it all.” I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew I needed to do it. So I did. First week, fine. Second week, fine. Third week, I got the call.

I remember that I was sitting in the back room at work, eating my lunch, and I saw an incoming call from my doctor’s office. (By this time, it was the most recognizable number in my phonebook.) Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you what the nurse said. I didn’t understand anything she was saying. At the same time, my call waiting was beeping in my ear repeatedly, so I asked the nurse to please hold on. When I answered, the woman identified herself as calling from Cancer Care Associates and that she was needing to set up my treatment schedule. HUH? I asked if I could call her back, explaining that I was on another call. I went back to the original nurse, trying to get some clarity. Not understanding, I said, “Well I can’t do that, I have to work.” And her response was a statement that changed my entire life: “Molly, I don’t think you understand, you have cancer.”

The feeling in that moment, and in the 8 months that followed, can only be summed up with the word confusion. Through the pills, the injections, the PICC line, the infusions, the doctor’s appointments, the tests, the hair loss…confusion. I just went through the motions, arrived when and where I was supposed to, and prayed for an end. By the end of my treatment, I was going to the treatment center every single morning before work, receiving two hours of chemotherapy, and then driving straight to work to work a full day. The nights and weekends were hard. I was tired. I was sick. I was sad. I went through the unique experience of having my husband shave my head in the kitchen of that brand new home, which not really something I wish on any couple. But I also got to shave his head in an act of solidarity, and that was super fun! When we got married, I didn’t think I could love Chad any more than I did in that moment, but this experience proved me wrong. He cleaned my PICC line every single night, he attended every doctor’s appointment, he held my hand during every treatment that he could attend, he brought me a molten chocolate cake from Chili’s every single time I asked, because it was literally the only thing I wanted to eat. We celebrated his birthday, my birthday, and our 1-year wedding anniversary while holding hands in a chemo chair. But he’s not a doctor; he’s not a nurse; his experience and education was limited to what we gleaned from the doctors and nurses providing my treatment. Throughout this experience, there was an expectation that we should know things without being told. We didn’t have an advocate or anyone to help us navigate this experience.

But I got better. After 8 months of treatment, I got another call, a nurse telling me that my tumor was gone! I would have to complete a couple of additional weeks of treatment and return periodically for bloodwork, but the end was near.

A couple of years later, Chad and I moved to Kansas City, and I started working for U.S. Bank. Within the first few months, we started our annual United Way Campaign, and I attended an after hours kickoff event. I didn’t really need an event to convince me to donate to United Way; I had seen the impact of these efforts and liked the idea of my money staying in the community. But I’m always in for free pizza, so I was in for the evening. During this event, we were introduced to one of the local agencies that would benefit from our donations. As the woman spoke passionately about her agency, my ears perked (and I took the slice of pizza out of my mouth) when I heard the word “cancer.” I heard her talk about this agency and the services and support they provided to the cancer community, and I couldn’t help but think, “Well where the heck was this when we lived in Tulsa?” Like I said, I was already in for a donation, but I wanted to do more for this agency. Before she could leave, I approached the speaker and asked her if they needed volunteers, thus beginning another love story: my love for Cancer Action.

You see, as I mentioned, when I was diagnosed, when I was in treatment, when I finished chemo, we had no idea what we were doing. My overuse of the word does not escape me, but it truly was a blur of orders and appointments. Cancer Action was that knowledge, that friend, that support that we were missing. Today you will hear more and more about the support and services that Cancer Action provides to our community, and I can confidently tell you that does NOT exist anywhere else. And that one simple inquiry into volunteering almost 8 years ago led to many volunteer events and ultimately serving on the board for multiple terms. (Have you met Karla? She has a way of doing this…)

I could share many more love stories with you this morning, like how my love for running and involvement with the Kansas City Marathon connected them with Cancer Action, resulting in them becoming one of the charity partners…or how my love for my company and our employees has helped connect many of them to Cancer Action in either a volunteer or recipient capacity…or how my love for my friends and family (many of whom are here today) has brought them to volunteer, donate, and support Cancer Action…but I would be remiss if I did not leave you with one final love story.

Although my treatment was completed many years ago, and I celebrated my 10-year anniversary of being cancer free on July 7th, my journey did leave me with one lasting effect: the inability to conceive a child. Chad and I always knew that we wanted to adopt, so when we learned that we would not be able to conceive a child, we knew this was our direction. Before we started the process, I mentioned to Karla what we were planning, and she reminded me that our very own Program Coordinator, Shirley Gibson, had previously worked in the adoption field and would be a great resource. That led to us to being connected with the agency that brought us our son, Jack, one of the greatest love stories of my life. So just when I thought I couldn’t love this agency more, we have a walking, talking, sassy reminder of their commitment to community and the support of everyone that they meet.

I consider myself blessed to know Karla, Shirley, the Cancer Action employees, volunteers, and Board of Directors, and I feel honored to be a part of their world.

Thank you!



Molly B.