We go higher, like survivors — we’re fighters.
These words are part of a song that Grayson Rogers wrote for his wife, Kayla, a chief petty officer in the Navy Reserve, as she battled breast cancer.
During the summer of 2019, Kayla found a lump in her breast. But when she brought it to her doctor’s attention, she was told not to worry because, after all, she was young and it wasn’t abnormal. A few months later she noticed it getting larger. Grayson pushed her to get a second opinion from another doctor and they fought to get a mammogram. The result: abnormal.
Kayla had a biopsy done and had to wait with anxiety for the results. By Oct. 10 of that year, she received news that she had hormonal-based breast cancer.
“The day that I was diagnosed I kind of went into this tunnel vision. I just said OK, I am numb right now. They tell you that you have cancer and then you have to wait three weeks to see the doctor,” she said.
Kayla told her husband that night that she felt like God was telling her to be outward with her journey. “From that day forward, I tried to share every bit of the journey with people to inspire.”
Grayson was right there beside her through it all.
“There’s not many words you can say in that kind of situation to make it better or comfort someone. So, I made it a point to just be there for whatever she needed from me,” he explained. It’s something he recommends most caregivers do. “Just be there. Be an ear and walk alongside them because there aren’t a lot of things you can say.”
Kayla also had the support of her Breasty Community. Immediately after she was diagnosed, other survivors reached out and lent their support.
“That’s huge because as much as you want to lean on your friends and family, they don’t know what you are going through. Only someone that’s been there really knows,” she said, adding they also helped her husband through Kayla’s multiple surgeries.
She received a double mastectomy on her birthday. Right after her surgery, Grayson went into the studio and wrote the song “Fighters.”
“We wanted it to be an anthem for people going through anything tough in their life,” he said. “It’s been really great to see the reaction of the song and the video from other breast cancer survivors.”
One of the lines in the song is especially powerful and a testament to their love: “I’m by your side and I won’t leave.”
At the beginning of her journey, Kayla’s doctors told her that mindset is everything. It’s something that stuck with her.
“If you sit there and focus on all of your symptoms or any negative stuff, it will drain your energy,” she said. “For me, no matter how hard it got — I would focus on the smallest good thing, like walking to the end of my street and back after undergoing my first surgery.”
Kayla also had to undergo chemotherapy, despite all the cancer being removed during her mastectomy. Knowing she was going to lose her hair, she decided to take control. Side by side, she and Grayson had their heads shaved while surrounded by their close friends and family.
When she started chemo, she was in the gym the day after every treatment.
“I was really really sick. But I would say ‘I’m going to go a little bit longer and a little bit faster’. That’s where the words to “Fighters” was really my anthem because those are the words in the bridge,” Kayla said. “I wanted to just push myself and focus on that one positive thing. That is a game changer.”
A point Kayla wants to make is that just because you are cancer free, doesn’t mean that life goes on as it did before.
“Not to go TMI [too much information], but I don’t have nipples. I have no feeling up top at all,” she said.
She shared that people have told her it must be awesome having fake implants.
“They don’t realize that these aren’t normal implants which go under your breast tissue. These aren’t under anything so there’s obvious rippling. I also have scars all over my body.”
Through all of this, Kayla was still maintaining her commitment as a Navy reservist, which was made easier because her command was completely supportive, telling her: The Navy isn’t your priority right now, your health is; we’ve got your back.
While battling breast cancer and undergoing chemo treatments, Kayla advanced to chief petty officer.Read comments