Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Haircuts with Heart featuring Kriss Sparks

Red Banner with HOF Episode

In this episode recorded in April of 2019, we interview Kriss Sparks and continue our "Haircuts with Heart" series, where we look at a few of the causes and charities that Sport Clips supports. Kriss is the manager of CO130 and chronicles her battle with cancer, shares how she has been able to work despite her mounting health challenges and explains how Sport Clips came alongside to assist her financially twice through the Wayne McGlone Memorial Fund. The Fund was established to support team members in times of need through disaster relief payments. For more details, visit: /about-us/haircuts-with-heart/support/team-member-support

Chad Jordan  holding a microphone and Kriss Sparks wearing a pink bandana

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
April 26, 2019 Kriss Sparks Manager of CO130 Surviving cancer and receiving financial assistance from Sport Clips Wayne McGlone Memorial Fund

Each episode of the Podcast is also available on iTunes and the Google Play store. 

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Transcription:

Chad Jordan: Hey everybody, this is Chad Jordan from Sport Clips. I'm the director of marketing for Digital Services and this is another episode of our Hall of Fame Podcast. And we have a series called Surviving Events where we interview stylists, managers, Sport Clips affiliated team members who have survived and made a life anyways in spite of some sort of challenge, whether it's addiction, whether it's illness, disease, cancer, something like that. So this will be another episode featured around someone's inspiring story and I thought this would be a perfect person to have on the podcast. So I'm going to have her introduce herself. And so what I want from you young lady is your name, your address, your serial number. No, no. Your name and your store number and what you do at Sport Clips, that kind of stuff. All right, your turn.

Kriss Sparks: All right. Hi all, I'm Kriss Sparks. My store number is CO130 in Longmont, Colorado. I am the current manager there.

Chad Jordan: And team leaders are Ted and Tina.

Kriss Sparks: The Ted & Tina McMurdo, correct.

Chad Jordan: Okay. And the reason we have you ... And so those watching this via YouTube, in fact I'm waving at you right now. Okay. Can see Kriss is dressed in pink, pretty in pink. And she's wearing pink because she is currently undergoing chemo for ...

Kriss Sparks: For breast cancer.

Chad Jordan: And when were you first diagnosed?

Kriss Sparks: December 1st, 2014.

Chad Jordan: Okay. So we are coming up on the fifth year anniversary.

Kriss Sparks: Yes sir.

Chad Jordan: It's an anniversary nobody wants but at the same time it's an anniversary that you're still here. So I don't know if you celebrate those kinds of anniversaries or what but at least we're looking at five years. So let's go through ... First of all, you're working with Sport Clips, you're managing, your location is in what part. Is it Boulder area.

Kriss Sparks: It's in Longmont, Colorado.

Chad Jordan: Longmont, which is what? What's that near for us non-Coloradians?

Kriss Sparks: So it's about 45 minutes south of Fort Collins or it's about maybe a 20-minute jog from Boulder.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Kriss Sparks: Going east.

Chad Jordan: And you've been managing a year but you've been affiliated with Sport Clips longer than that.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. I've been with Sport Clips as a whole since 2012, 2013, somewhere in there.

Chad Jordan: Okay. And when you got diagnosed in 2014 were you with Sport Clips?

Kriss Sparks: I was.

Chad Jordan: Okay. And I think we'll get into it a little bit later about the Wayne McGlone Fund, what that is, how that's played a role in your diagnosis and treatment and all that kind of stuff. But I want to talk, I know you got some kiddos so we want to put a face and a story to illness and to those that are surviving and battling it. So can you give me a little bit about your family, how your family's made up, husband, kiddos, all that kind of stuff?

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. I'm married, my husband's name is Brandon. We've been together for 13 years, married for almost 11. We have four children. My oldest, Georgia, is in the United States Navy. She's currently stationed in North Carolina. And then I've got a 17-year old that's graduation high school this year, Andrew. He will be joining the Coast Guard. Then I have a 11-year old named Thane, my football player, very big into-

Chad Jordan: Thane, where does that name come from?

Kriss Sparks: Thane, when I was pregnant with him, my mom gave me a romance novel thing, and I don't read those. And there was a husband cowboy from Wyoming named Thane. And so I liked the name, just changed the spelling a little bit but ... And his middle name actually is Cyrus from Con Air, Cyrus the virus. I loved that movie. And then my youngest little girl, her name is Belle Star and she is nine.

Chad Jordan: Wow, and precious. And your oldest Georgia, was she still living at home when you were diagnosed?

Kriss Sparks: Yes.

Chad Jordan: Okay. So she's kind of walked through that process with you.

Kriss Sparks: Yes.

Chad Jordan: Take me back to you're just living a normal life, did you ... I mean, what's going on in November 30, 2014. You're just ... Whatever.

Kriss Sparks: So actually, I'd say about three months prior, I felt a lump in my armpit and there's no cancer in my family so I'd heard all these things about caffeine cyst. If you drink too much caffeine, you can get a cyst. And so I'm like, "Oh, that's probably what it is." I was drinking a lot of coffee.

Chad Jordan: Are you a fellow Mountain Dew junkie as well or ...

Kriss Sparks: I am not. I don't drink soda but I drink a lot of coffee.

Chad Jordan: All right. I mean, you're a stylist so of course, you've got to have caffeine in one way, shape or form.

Kriss Sparks: Yap. So ...

Chad Jordan: So did you put off it 'cause you thought-

Kriss Sparks: I did. I ignored it.

Chad Jordan: Okay, you dismissed it.

Kriss Sparks: I did. And backup a little bit there, in 2003, 2004, I actually had two lumps removed from my breast that were benign, they just called them fat some things. And they were the size of a quarter and they were laying right on top of each other and-

Chad Jordan: Had they been discovered in a mammogram or ...

Kriss Sparks: I had actually felt them. They had started off the size of a pea and I ignored it. And it was slow growing and then finally they just got to be painful and so I went in to the doctor. And he's like, "Yap, we're going to remove 'em, we'll check 'em." And then the doctor told me after he removed 'em, it wasn't cancer but he said, "You know, you have several other lumps that are too far down for us to get into, just keep an eye." Which I probably forgot, I was in my 20s so I was like, "Whatever."

Chad Jordan: The last thing on your mind.

Kriss Sparks: Don't care. So at that point and fast-forwarding to then, I found the lump, it hurt. And I'd always heard that cancer tumors, when you feel them, they don't hurt. I don't know why. I don't know if that's a real thing or not but it hurt so I was like, "Oh, it's a cyst so when I get time." It was always when I get time I'll just go in. Well, it grew and-

Chad Jordan: So it really was ... I just want to make sure we drive this point home, especially most people listening or watching this podcast will be female stylists. So it wasn't that you were dismissing it 'cause you were scared it could be cancer and you didn't want the news, it was you really did think it's not a big deal.

Kriss Sparks: I thought it was nothing. I thought that it really was a cyst because cysts hurt from what I've been told. I've never had one. So I just assumed it was and I was busy. I had four kids and again, cancer doesn't run in my family at all. High blood pressure and diabetes, that's a thing, cancer no. And breast cancer is typically a genetic thing. So I just was like, "Cool, well, it's nothing. I'll get to it when I get to it." And then it got bigger and it got bigger within a month. And so in October I told my husband, I was like, "Well, I'll just go to our family doctor. He'll tell me it's a caffeine cyst and we'll move on."
So my husband was like, "Okay, cool." So I go to-

Chad Jordan: No one's alarmed at this point.

Kriss Sparks: Nobody's alarmed. Nobody's worried at all. I go to my family doctor and I tell him, "I got this lump. I know you're not a breast doctor or whatever but I figured ..." and he's like, "Yeah, we can check it out." So they're doing the exam and he's got a student in with him and the nurse. And he's feeling the side of the right side and he's like, "Okay." Then he goes and he feels the left side, doesn't feel any lumps in my actual breast but he felt the lump that I felt in my armpit. And he's like, "That's really strange. I'm going to have the nurse feel." So the nurse feels it and she's like, "Okay. Why don't we just get a mammogram. We'll just check it out." I'm not concerned where it's located, that's your lymph nodes. We're not really worried. Cool.
So we scheduled the appointment and they tell my husband, he comes with me to the mammogram and he can't come in the back because there's lots of women's things going on. But they tell him 45 minutes we'll be good to go. So we go in. I go and get into the machine, which funny enough it's for short people. I'm almost 6'1 and-

Chad Jordan: I recognized that when we rode the elevator and I'm having to look up to have a conversation with you.

Kriss Sparks: And it's built for shorter women I think 'cause I actually had to lean over this machine. And the girl that was performing the test, bless her heart, she's probably 19, 20 years old. She couldn't have been very old.

Chad Jordan: She never had a 6-foot one woman come in for this.

Kriss Sparks: No. And she's looking-

Chad Jordan: The manual does not describe how to handle this situation.

Kriss Sparks: Right. She's just kind of looking at me and so we get it situated, she does the scan. She leaves the equipment on me and I look over at her and she looks scared. And I was like, "Did you do it wrong or what's the problem? Just take it off and let's talk." And she says, "Ma'am, I'll be right back." And I was like, "Okay." So I'm still attached to this machine just standing there and I'm like, "This is ... Well, if I was embarrassed before-

Chad Jordan: Awkward.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And so a doctor comes in and they said, "We have to scan again." And I was like, "Oh okay, maybe-

Chad Jordan: The 19-year old messed up, didn't her?

Kriss Sparks: Yap. That's exactly what I'm thinking. I'm getting a little irritated because I'm standing there and I'm on the go person, I don't like to sit still. So they scan again and she's like, "All right, if you want to go, wait in the waiting room. We'll be with you in a minute." I said, "Okay, well, can my husband come back?" "No he can't come back because there's women all over here with their robes and whatever." "Okay." So by now, we're already reaching almost two hours that I've been back there.

Chad Jordan: For a 45-minute procedure.

Kriss Sparks: For a 45-minute procedure and I'm like, "Oh my God, this is taking forever." Still, I'm not concerned. I'm still thinking, "Well, they found another lump, that's nothing." Or, "Maybe the cyst is pushing on something and they're like, "Oh, we need to fix this or whatever." So then another doctor comes in and she calls me to the back, she goes, "We want to do an ultrasound and I said, "Okay. Can my husband come back for that?" "Of course he can." So he comes back, I'm laying on the table and I've got my left arm up. For an hour she is doing this and she's scanning-

Chad Jordan: This ain't the 19-year old anymore. It's something who knows what they're doing.

Kriss Sparks: Yap. She's in her 50s probably and she's like, "Does it hurt?" And I said, "Yeah." I said, "When you're going over it, be gentle 'cause that hurts. I know you're supposed to push but it hurts." And she says, "Okay, well," the doctor that looks at those things, I don't know what they're called, she said, "she'll be right with you." And I said, "Okay."

Chad Jordan: Radiologist or the oncologist or ...

Kriss Sparks: The ultrasoundologist.

Chad Jordan: Okay. Oh yeah, works for me.

Kriss Sparks: Okay. And so my husband sat in there and he's like, "What is going on?" And I said, "I don't know. It was supposed to be 45 minutes." And he's like, "We're now coming on three hours." And I said, "All of this for a stupid cyst. This is dumb." And he's like, "Yeah, well, hopefully they hurry up." 'Cause we had left our youngest daughter with one of my friends while we had our first appointment. And I was like, "Make sure you call her to let her know it's taking forever."
So then the doctor comes in, she goes, "Well, I'm going to show you something." And so she pulls up the screen and the spot that I thought was a cyst was black and then inside my breast cancer itself, there were three more that were black. And I was like, "Okay, what is that?" And she goes, "Well, I don't know but it's concerning." And I said, "Okay. Concerning like more cysts, concerning like I have clogged ducts?" Like, "I don't know." And-

Chad Jordan: Are you still not even thinking it could be cancer just because of the family history?

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And she goes, "Well, we need to do a biopsy." And I was like, "Okay." I said, "Well, I work for the next two weeks." And she goes, "No, we need to do a biopsy." And I said, "Okay, well, I don't have a day off for like a couple weeks." And she's like, "No, like we need to do this within the next few days." And I was like, "Okay, I'll see what I could do." I got ahold of my manager at the Sport Clips I was working at then and I said, "Well, they want to do a biopsy." And she's like, "Okay. And are you concerned?" "No." So I asked when I could get in. The day before Thanksgiving, that was the day they could get me in. And I was like, "Okay."

Chad Jordan: One of the busiest days of the year. That's the part that you did really feel in there but the day before Thanksgiving.

Kriss Sparks: The day before Thanksgiving and I was like, "Sorry to do this to you but they want me here in the morning and they want to get this taken care of." And she's like, "Okay." So I go in for the biopsy and I don't know how many people have had one of those but they are not comfortable. They hurt. They have to numb you first with a shot and the shot hurts and then if any of the tissue around isn't dead, then when they go to put that little puncher thing in there, you feel everything.
And so they decided to do a biopsy on both sides and they mostly just biopsy tissue on the side but then they took some from the lymph node on this ... It turns out to be the lymph node but from what I thought was the cyst and then from the three spots that she could see on my left side. And that took about a couple of hours. I had to be wrapped in bandages. Like this whole nonsense. So that was Thanksgiving. And then they said, "We'll let you within a couple of weeks."

Chad Jordan: What was Thanksgiving like?

Kriss Sparks: So ...

Chad Jordan: Did you spend the whole holiday worrying at that point?

Kriss Sparks: At that point, now I'm getting a little worried 'cause you don't do a biopsy for no reason. Then I was like, well, if it is cancer, it's not going to be that bad because they saw it-

Chad Jordan: Isolated, they probably caught it quickly.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. Not going to be a problem. Thanksgiving, we were with my husband's family for Thanksgiving and everybody's asking questions, "What's going on? What's happening?" And I'm like, "I don't have any idea. They just said they'll get with us." And I'm assuming no news is good news, that's what I'm thinking.

Chad Jordan: And they hadn't given you a timeline on how long it could potentially take to get the results?

Kriss Sparks: No. They said a couple of weeks so I was like, "Okay, two weeks."

Chad Jordan: And you're thinking, "A couple of weeks but sooner if there's a problem." But it's a couple of weeks, they'll process the paperwork.

Kriss Sparks: 'Cause I'm like, "Well, if it's cancer, they just slap it on a little disc, they look at it."

Chad Jordan: Find it and rush through and let you know.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah, they call me the next day and ... So one week went by, nothing. And my husband's like, "Have you heard anything?" "Nope, haven't heard a word so I think we're fine."

Chad Jordan: We're out of the woods.

Kriss Sparks: We're good. December 1st, I was at work and I was telling the assistant manager at the time, I was like, "I haven't heard anything, I think that's pretty good." And she's like, "Yeah." And I said, "I'm going to go and check my phone and see if there's any messages." And as I opened my locker to grab my phone, my doctor calls, like in that instant and I was like, "Oh cool."

Chad Jordan: What are the chances?

Kriss Sparks: All right. So go into the break room and I said, "Hello Dr. Felix." And he said, "Oh hey, how's it going?" And he's very cheerful and he goes, "How was your Thanksgiving?" And said, "I wasn't really hungry. I had ..." For Thanksgiving, my husband's family does cabbage burgers, [inaudible 00:16:25] burgers for Thanksgiving.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Kriss Sparks: It's their thing. I don't eat that.

Chad Jordan: Are they German or what's going ... Oh okay. All right, that must be what they do. All right.

Kriss Sparks: And they love 'em. So I ate off the relish tray. I don't like covers so it's not a thing for me. So I'm telling him about that-

Chad Jordan: You're making small talks and he's got this earth shuttering news kind of bearing the lead.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah, and he's so peppy. And in the back of my mind I'm like, "Awesome."

Chad Jordan: Yeah, you're relieved.

Kriss Sparks: You know, "We're good. We'll just chat a little bit." And the he said, "So here's the thing, you have cancer." Just like that. Just like that.

Chad Jordan: He ripped the band aid off.

Kriss Sparks: And I know that it probably hurt him a lot more because he'd been my doctor for quite a while. He's my husband's doctor first and then he ended up being my doctor. And I don't think I got it. Like he said, "Yap, it's cancer." And I was like, "Okay." And he said, "Well, the patient care representative is going to be calling you." And I said, "Okay." And he said, "She's going to be setting up all your appointments for the next week." And I was like, "Okay, but I got to work."

Chad Jordan: Right, right. Priority, hello? Work over health.

Kriss Sparks: And he's like, "No. Like you need to go to these appointments. We've got to figure out your stages and blah blah blah." And I was like, "Stages? I don't understand what you mean." And he said, "Do you need to call Brandon and have him call me? I'll stay late at the office if you want to come by and see me." 'Cause I live in Loveland and I was working in Fort Collins at the time so about 25 minutes from home is where I was working. And his office was about 20, 30 minutes from where I was working.
And I was like, "No, I think I'm fine." And he goes, "Okay, well, I'm staying here late so have Brandon call me if he's got any questions, you call me if you've got any questions and then we'll just kind of take it from there." I said "Okay." And then I just kind of stood there and Mrs. [Seemandhra 00:18:26] came back and she was like, "Are you all right? You don't look very well." And I was like, "Dude, I got cancer, I got to go." And she's all, "What do you mean?" And I said, "I got to go. Like I need to leave right now."
And she said, "Okay, I'll just clean up your stuff, you just go ahead and go." And I was like, "How am I going to to home?" And she's like "You drove here." And I was like, "Okay." So I can drive, my husband's at work. I'm walking out to the parking lot and I called my husband and he's like ... He's a mechanic and he's like, "Hey, what's up? I don't have much time." And I was like, "I got cancer. I'm going home." And he was all, "What?" And I said, "I got cancer, I'm going home." And he's like, "Okay, I don't understand." And I was like, "I love you, bye." and I hang up.
And I remember getting in my vehicle and I sat there for a minute and I was like, "Cancer, okay." So I mean, you can take a pill. I've seen stuff on TV. My biggest concern was losing my hair and my hair was past my waist. And that was all I cared-

Chad Jordan: It had to be your whole life, had you been one of this long hair-

Kriss Sparks: Entire life. I've never had short hair in my life. And it was my strength, I guess, is what you would say. And so I was like, "Man, I don't want to loose my hair." And not even thinking about what else is going to happen to me. It's, I don't want to loose my hair.

Chad Jordan: What I found is it's not a vanity thing, it's a security blanket, right?

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. I never did anything with it. I didn't breath it, I didn't put it in a ponytail. It just hand straight.

Chad Jordan: It's part of who you are. So when you lose it, that's losing a part of yourself.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And I remember driving to Loveland. I don't remember anything. I mean, honestly, I could have been swerving all over the road. I remember crying. I'm not a crier so I don't remember being emotional at all. It was just a matter of fact, this is what's going on. And I decided to go to my husband's work instead of going home. And I pulled up to his shop and he came out and he gave me a hug and he told his boss, "I'm leaving." And he's like, "Are you okay?" And he's talking to me, the patient care lady calls me. And she said, "These three days, these are your appointments. You have to meet with a surgeon, you have to meet with a plastic surgeon and you need to meet with an oncologist." All like that, within three days.
I actually met with the plastic surgeon before I met with my oncologist. And got it all setup. We had to go home and tell my kids and that-

Chad Jordan: That was going to be my next question. 'Cause you were really blunt with your husband just 'cause you're in a state of shock but now you got four kiddos who you're their only mother and you're all that they know. And you had to approach it differently. So you gather ... What do you do?

Kriss Sparks: So we got home and my oldest, Georgia, she had just got home from hanging out or something. Let's see, so five years she was ... Actually, she was in the eighth grade.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Kriss Sparks: So that makes sense, so about the eighth ... Middle school. And then my older son was in the six grade and then my youngest son was in ...

Chad Jordan: Pre K or something.

Kriss Sparks: Kindergarten, first grade 'cause my little girl was in preschool 'cause I remember all that happening. She got to preschool early so she was in preschool and I was standing in the bedroom and she came in and typical teenage stuff. And I've always been blunt with her, I've always no nonsense and this is how it is. My boys are mama's boys, my daughter is exactly like me, no emotion, this is how it is. And I looked at her and I said, "Well, it is breast cancer. Hopefully, I don't have the gene." And she was like, "Yeah, I hope so. I don't want to get cancer." And I was like, "Yeah, I don't want you to get cancer either so let's just hope that I don't have the gene."

Chad Jordan: That's your first conversation about it. Like that's how it goes down?

Kriss Sparks: That was how it was. She walked out the room pretty quick and I know that she went to go cry.

Chad Jordan: She tried to be tough in front of mommy like, "Oh yeah, I hope I don't get it too," but inside she's devastated.

Kriss Sparks: She was crumbling. So I went out to the living room and my older son was out there and he knew something was wrong. And I was like, "Hey buddy, we got to tell you something." And he's like, "No, I don't want to hear it." And I said, "Well, apparently I got cancer. I don't know what's going to happen, I don't know how bad it is." And he's like, "You're my hero mom, you're going to be good. You're going to be fine." And I was like, "Okay."

Chad Jordan: Heroes always make it.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And he's like, "You're my mom, you're not going anywhere." The little guys, telling them that I was ... We told 'em I was sick, I didn't say cancer. Cancer is a scary word. I said, "Momma's sick. I'm going to have to get some medicine." I'm sorry, my alarm seems to be going off.

Chad Jordan: Are they asking how did you get it? Could we catch it, are they doing [crosstalk 00:23:47]

Kriss Sparks: It was one of those, "Oh, like the flu?" Is that kind of thing. My little girl, she was like, "I don't get it, you're sick, you got to go to the doctor then mom. You got to get better." And I was like, "You know, we're going to get better." And still trying to figure it out. I'm trying not to cry in front of them. My husband is crying. He is more emotional or he was more emotional with the whole situation. So he's crying trying to walk away so they don't see dad crying because if dad's crying then something's really going on. And so I don't really remember the rest of that day. Like it was just a, "Here it is." I think we told as many people in our inner circle as we could, let his parents know.
My dad's long gone so it was my mom and I told her and she is unemotional so she was like, "Okay. Well, you just let me know what you got to do and we'll just kind of move on from there." And she was like, "Well, I don't know why you ..." The other thing was she's like, "I don't know where you got it 'cause we don't have that." And I was like, "Well, it's not contagious." It made me laugh at that time, which it wasn't funny but it was funny. I'm like, "It's not like you gave it to me or anything, it's ..."

Chad Jordan: Nor was it your fault. It's not like you did something to deserve it.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah, and it was just one of those things. And then we went the next few days with the doctors. The plastic surgeon first and for women that are in their 30 ... And I was 34 at the time and all the doctors kept saying, "You're too young for cancer. I don't even know how you got it. Like you're ..." And I was like, "I don't know. Did I catch a cold and it turned ..." If you've never had to deal with it, you think you can catch it even if they say it's not contagious or at least that was my thought process.
I was like, "Well, who had been around? Who have I come in contact with that has been sick? How did this happen if it's not a genetic thing?" And so I went and saw the plastic surgeon and of course walking in to a plastic surgeon's office is always funny for me because there's what they can do for you. They can make your breasts bigger, they can make your butt smaller, they can do all this stuff. And I'm like, "Man, I'm not even in here for anything good. Like I'm in here to talk about what reconstruction of something that I don't even know what can be done." And they just wanted me to meet him so I put a face to the doctor of what he will be doing afterwards.
Then I met with the surgeon and I had to get a port. And the type of chemo that I was getting, if it came in contact with my skin or if it leaked outside my veins, it would destroy tissue, burn ... Like it was a big thing.

Chad Jordan: The cancer or the chemo?

Kriss Sparks: The chemo.

Chad Jordan: Oh okay, yeah.

Kriss Sparks: So the chemo was very dangerous anyways but if they just put a IV in or anything, there was always potential for something very bad. So he was trying to tell me about this port that he was going to be putting in and I said, "Okay, I understand. I'm going to have this metal or this stuff inside my body." And he said, "Yeah, it's just this little triangle and then in the middle of it is where they'll stick a needle in and then that's how you're going to ... And it's a central line and it goes ... I have one now, it goes up into your main artery and everything, and that's how they'll deliver everything.
And I said, "Okay, well, I don't really like surgery so is this going to be like I have to stay overnight? Can I just get it and go home? Like I just don't want to be here."

Chad Jordan: How invasive is it?

Kriss Sparks: And he says, "It's going to take about an hour and everything will be just fine." I said, "Okay." And then I met my oncologist. And I happen to get sick right before I met her. It was kind of a cold but it was a weird cold. It was like with flu symptoms and I was very tired and it was almost like my body finally found out I had cancer and just now all of a sudden I'm getting sick.
And I went in and she was emotional about it, she was like, "You're young and you have kids and you have-

Chad Jordan: She's like, "It's not fair."

Kriss Sparks: It's not fair.

Chad Jordan: Who do I blame?

Kriss Sparks: Right. And she's like, "It's okay if you're angry." And I was like, "Can we just ..." I said, "I don't want to talk about emotion, I just want to get this done with. Tell me what my treatment with and let's get this ball rolling." And she said, "Well, we got to get your port in and then as soon as your port's in, we'll start your chemo." And I said, "Okay. So what are my side effects going to be? I'm going to lose my hair." And she said, "You're going to lose your hair." She said that, "The type of chemo that you're doing [crosstalk 00:28:44]

Chad Jordan: Were you kind of keeping your fingers crossed that, "Yeah, that's where you lead with that."

Kriss Sparks: My husband's mom, her best friend, had breast cancer. She took pills and never lost her hair. So I'm like, "Okay, maybe-

Chad Jordan: Maybe I'll be the lucky unlucky person.

Kriss Sparks: Right. And they also have this thing that's called cold cap therapy where you can basically wear an ice cap on your head and it supposedly freezes everything in here. It basically stops the cells from pushing the hair out or ... I really didn't look into it all that much but I was like, "I don't really want to wear an ice cap on my head all the time just to save my hair." And I'm like, "Okay. I've had my hair for 34 years, I'll just cut it short and then as it falls out, it won't be too bad."
And she's like, "You gain weight because we have to give you steroids so you're not sick." And I said, "Great. So I'm going to be bald and fat." And she's like, "Well, you're really not taking this how I thought." And I'm like, "Well, I mean, basically what you're telling me-

Chad Jordan: You were processing this is bite-sized chunks though.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And I'm like, "So you're telling me I'm going to look like basically Uncle Fester is what I'm going to look like." And she's like, "No." And I was like, "It's okay. I just want to grasp on what I'm going to be." I was like, "I hope I have a good shaped head because that's all I'm worried about now, is what if I have [crosstalk 00:30:03] I don't know."
And she's looking at my husband like, "This girl's nuts, there's something wrong here." And he's like, "She processes differently to different stuff." So I went and got the port surgery and actually, funny enough, right before I was to get the port surgery, Dr. [Dabbs 00:30:27] was supposed to do it. He's jumping on a trampoline and hurt his back.

Chad Jordan: Oh, are you kidding me?

Kriss Sparks: So now I have to have this partner do it.

Chad Jordan: Stranger but you don't know him.

Kriss Sparks: Don't know him, met him for the first time in the OR and it went fine. And they're telling me, "1% of people, this stuff happens to or 1% of people, all of this." I found out very early that I am the 1%. I did my first round of chemo, hair fell out two weeks after I started chemo.

Chad Jordan: Did you end up shaving your head beforehand or ...

Kriss Sparks: My husband shaved it for me and then it hurts when it falls out. So it's a very weird ... It's not like pulling on the hair, it really is like the hair is dying and it's letting you know that it's dying and so it hurts.

Chad Jordan: It doesn't want to die.

Kriss Sparks: It doesn't want to die. And my husband had shaved me all the way down to basically just stubble, just like a five o'clock shadow. And I was wearing a stocking cap and I could feel it hurting. And I went to his work and I'm like, "My hair really hurts." And I look it off and as I took it off, little flicks of hair were coming off and I was like, "Man, really? Okay."

Chad Jordan: Can't even catch it right there."

Kriss Sparks: It's not going to stay. And then I started treatment. Very first day in the infusion room, they sit me with 80-year old women that are dying. And they're actually dying, like they're just there as a comfort measure. And I'm like, "Are you kidding me? Like you couldn't sit me over there by myself? I have to sit ..." So I'm trying to be nice but at the same time I'm irritated because I'm like, "This isn't ..."

Chad Jordan: And you're not feeling good, you're not in a good place.

Kriss Sparks: And the nurse comes over and she was the head nurse, her name was April and she hands me this menu and she goes, "Order whatever you want. You and your husband could have lunch while you're sitting here for the next few hours." And I was like, "Fantastic, let's order up." Well, what they don't tell you is you probably shouldn't or you should order lightly because you are not going to like what happens afterwards. But I was like, club sandwich, I'm ordering desserts. My husband is barely eating anything but I'm ordering to the nine. I mean, like all the stuff. They said I could order whatever so I did.
And I'm sitting there and I'm bored. I didn't bring a book so I was just kind of sitting in there-

Chad Jordan: This is your first time, you don't know what to ...

Kriss Sparks: And I'm looking at the TVs and there's cable so it's all logo stuff and I was like, "Oh, maybe watch some Jerry Springer or something while I'm sitting here." Got bored of that and just I was trying to fall asleep then I started getting really cold. And then it felt like my head was in the cloud, like I had cotton wrapped around my face. It was a very weird feeling and I was like, "I don't know, I wonder ... Something's wrong." And she's like, "No. This is how it is, some people feel it right away, others it takes hours, sometimes it can take days."

Chad Jordan: But you're, again, the 1%.

Kriss Sparks: I'm the 1%. So I was feeling it pretty quickly. Finished, went home. For the next couple of days I believe it was twice a week. It could have been once a week. I don't really remember though. My whole timeline on that was all messed up. For the first round of it, I went quite a bit I believe. And then still seeing the oncologist, getting my blood checked, making sure that the chemo wasn't killing me, which is what it does.

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Kriss Sparks: That's what it's doing.

Chad Jordan: Poison.

Kriss Sparks: It's poison.

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Kriss Sparks: And feeling my teeth start to feel effects, which is the weirdest thing. Getting cavities or getting ... It feels almost like they're starting to fall out of the root and that was another thing. I'm like, "Oh my God, now I'm going to lose my teeth. I'm going to lose my teeth, my hair and gain weight. So I am going to look amazing, I'm telling you."
So we get through the first round of chemo and then they tell me that I have to be on this stuff called Taxol. And I was like, "Okay." And they said, "Now, you're either going to be able to go through it just fine or you're going to struggle a little bit. But again, only 1% have a problem with this." And I was like, "Watch-

Chad Jordan: What are the chances that I'm ... Yeah.

Kriss Sparks: So she gets all in her battle gear. She's got this mask on and these long gloves and she covers herself completely-

Chad Jordan: Like a hazmat suit.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And I'm like, "Is my husband even allowed to be here?" And she's like, "Oh, he's fine. No touching or anything." And I was like, "What are you guys putting in me?" She gives me the medicine and almost instantly, I was like, "My chest hurts." And she's like, "Okay. What do you mean it hurts?" And I was like, "I don't feel very well, I can't breath and like all of a sudden-

Chad Jordan: Is it burning or what? Is it pressure or what's the pain?

Kriss Sparks: It felt like my heart was being ripped. Like it was ripping pressure, like smother. Like it was all this weird stuff going on and she's like ... I remember looking at her and then my eye started to close. And she was like, "Wake up. Kriss, are you okay?" And I was like, "I can't breath." And she stops it, she starts running saline through. She's calling the emergency people and she's like, "We have an allergic reaction to this Taxol. We need to get her veins flashed and we need to find out-

Chad Jordan: Are you conscious or is it your husband later telling you all this?

Kriss Sparks: Yes and no. I remember her screaming at one of the other nurses and they're like, "Get medical stuff blah, blah, blah." And I was like, "What is happening?" And then I was like, "I'm dying. This is what's happening. I'm actually dying." And there was no tunnel or any of that but I remember seeing my kids and I was like-

Chad Jordan: 'Cause you didn't say goodbye, it's not like you thought this was going to be [crosstalk 00:37:04]

Kriss Sparks: No. And I'm thinking, "They're at school. I need to call them, I need to ..." And it was fast because they got it flushed or whatever really quickly. And the nurse is like, she's talking to somebody and she's like, "No. She can't get any more," and I'm like, "Yeah, I know. I don't want anymore. What is happening? Please don't give that back to me." And she's like, "Well, they want to see if now that it's been through your system if you ... Can we do it again?" And I was like, "No you cannot do it again."

Chad Jordan: It was the introductory offer that was the problem.

Kriss Sparks: And I was like, "No. I'm good, thank you." And she's like-

Chad Jordan: You want to take my chances for something else.

Kriss Sparks: We're good.

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Kriss Sparks: So then she tells me I need to see my oncologist and my oncologist comes in and she's like-

Chad Jordan: All right, and you were saying.

Kriss Sparks: So my oncologist told me that I had to have the Taxol, that was a big part of my treatment. And she said, "But we're going to give you Taxotere, which is the synthetic version. It's derived from the synthetic instead of from the plant. More people were able to do that than are able to do Taxol. So if you're allergic to one, you better of have in the generic version.

Chad Jordan: There's no way you're allergic to both. I almost feel like I know where this is going and we haven't talked about it but okay, all right.

Kriss Sparks: I get it, I have no problems. There's no chest problems whatsoever. Next day I wake up, my hands are five times the size they are, my feet are five times the size they are. My rings are on and I can't get them off.

Chad Jordan: Oh no.

Kriss Sparks: And I mean, I have rings all very my-

Chad Jordan: Did they warn you that that could be a side effect 'cause you would have taken it rings off had you known that-

Kriss Sparks: Nothing. No. There was really no actual side effect so I'm looking, my hands are purple because of how swollen they are and I was like, "What am I supposed to do?" I call the hospital they say, "Go to the burn unit." And I was like, "But I wasn't ... I don't understand." Okay. So I go, travel to Fort Collins to go to the burn unit in Fort Collins. They're looking at my hands and like, "We don't even know what we're supposed to do with these. Like we don't know how, we can put some ice on 'em maybe." And I was like, "Tried that, already stuck my hands in the freezer, they're not coming down." And they're like, "You are very allergic to whatever it is that they're giving you." And I said, "Well, I'm already allergic to the one, I can't be allergic to the other."
And she's like, "Well, you are." I said, "Well, that's fantastic." I get a hold of my oncologist and she was like, "Well, we can't have you take tests because it's making all your joints swell up and we just can't do that so we have to go back to the original one but we have to out you in the ICU to do it." And I was like, "Okay." And she said, "Instead of giving you 50 milligrams at a time, we'll take it down to 10 every hour." And I was like, "So I'm going to have to be in the hospital for 36 hours?" She said, "Yeah." I said, "Okay."

Chad Jordan: Just what you wanted, more hospital time.

Kriss Sparks: That's great stuff. So they put me in ICU, I get a 36-hour drip of chemo. I have to do this once a week for 12 weeks. In the mean time, my port stopped working and those don't stop working, ever.

Chad Jordan: Only in 1%.

Kriss Sparks: In 1% of people. They kept saying this, my husband's like, "Y'all need to stop saying that." It was on St. Patrick's Day and I was like, "Okay. I wish I was Irish." And so I had to get a new port put in. I do all the chemo, I don't have anymore complications after that, I just have to go once a week every Tuesday morning. I shouldn't say I don't have anymore complications. In April, I walk in-

Chad Jordan: 2015.

Kriss Sparks: Of 2015, I walk in, Patsy was my nurse, she was there for me the entire time of having to stay in the hospital. And she always brought me coffee, she always had a coffee right there waiting for me when I would come in. And she's like, "All right, let's take your blood work and then we'll get you started on your chemo." And I was like, "Okay." And I'm talking to her about everything's going on since I saw her the previous week. And she's like, "How are you doing?" I said, "Oh, fine, just another day, another 36 hours of being here."
She takes my blood and puts a stat on it because your levels have to be at a certain spot in order to get chemo. If they're too low you can't. If they are too high there's a problem. There's an issue unless they're perfect. So they get a call almost immediately within whatever timeframe and she's like, "No, no, that's incorrect. I'll take some more blood, send it to you, let me know." And I'm like, "what's wrong?" And she goes, "There is some kind of weird mix up at the lab, let's take your blood again." "Okay." So she takes my blood again. In the meantime we're sitting there talking and chatting. And I had these swab things for my mouth because chemo dries out your mouth real bad.

Chad Jordan: Did you get throat sores and all that stuff from it?

Kriss Sparks: I never got sores.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Kriss Sparks: I really was lucky with that but it was very dry. And she gets a call and she's like, "Okay, I'll notify the crash team." And I was like, "Notify the what?" And she's like, "Hold on, we need to get your oncologist." I'm like, "No Patsy, what's going on?" And she said, "How are you even sitting here?" And I was like, "What do you mean?" And she goes, "You walked in here, nobody brought you in here." I said, "Yeah, I walked in here." She goes, "How tired are you?" And I was like, "I'm tired but I walked in. What's going on?" And she's like, "You should be in a comma." And I was like, "What do you mean?"

Chad Jordan: From ...

Kriss Sparks: My blood cells had dropped so low below the marker that I should have been in a comma. And I was like, "Well, I'm not so we're fine." And she's like, "We're not fine, we have to do a blood transfusion." And I was like, "No, I don't want somebody else's blood in me."

Chad Jordan: And this is another time that you've not told the kids, you haven't said any sort of goodbyes or-

Kriss Sparks: No. Chemo had been going so well at that point. Now that we had got it to where I was on a drip, I wasn't really having any issues and I'm like, "I don't want somebody else's blood." And they're like, "We have to." And I'm a double negative so I can only have that blood, which is hard because-

Chad Jordan: Because you're the 1% of the blood type.

Kriss Sparks: 'Cause I'm the 1% of the blood type. So she's like, "It's on its way but we need to get all these monitors on you. And I'm like, "No, I have family coming to see me. I don't want them to walk in and see all this stuff." And she's like, "That's too bad. I mean, this is how it is."

Chad Jordan: I'm trying to save your life here.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. I'm calling my husband I'm like, "I have to have a blood transfusion." And he's like, "What? What's happening?" And I'm like, "Apparently, I'm supposed to be in a comma." And they get the blood and blood is cold when it's going into you, which was the creepiest thing ever. They try to wrap a towel so that it wouldn't touch my skin but you can feel it through the line. It has to go over your arm and then into your chest. And like the whole time I wanted to throw up because I'm like, "Oh my God, I'm getting someone's blood and what if it's an axe murderer or what if it's ... Maybe their genetic stuff is going into me."

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Kriss Sparks: Weird things that you think about at the time. Calling people and letting 'em know, "Hey, I'm supposed to be in a comma. You should probably come and see me." It went fine. I didn't have any issues but I had to wait two weeks after that in order to go again, so that was a delay. Then one night while I was in the hospital, like a month ... No, it was probably like three weeks later, I was sleeping all of a sudden I woke up and I couldn't breath and my chest hurt and it was that same feeling all over again of the anaphylactic, whatever, that was happening from it.
And I'm punching the button and I'm screaming and I'm like, "Somebody help! Somebody help!." And a lady comes on, she's like, "How can we help you?" And I was like, "I'm dying. Somebody's got to get in here." The nurse rushes in and she cursed and she was like, "Holy ..." And I said, "What?" And she's all, "Why is this set at 50? It's supposed to be at 10." And I was like, "What?" And she goes, "We need to find out." And she's calling people and I'm like, "I didn't touch it." And come to find out a nurse had come in who works with chemo or whatever, I don't know who she was.

Chad Jordan: Was she 19 years old and had previously been at radiology? Okay. All right.

Kriss Sparks: I didn't even think of that connection. No, she had actually worked with chemo before and because it's supposed to be set on a certain amount, she had come in to check on me or something, and without looking at my chart, she turned it up. Unfortunately, she lost her job that night, they actually fired her.
So after that, it was smooth sailing until I had radiation. The radiation turned my skin into spiderwebs. I mean, it was coming of and just little with seeds of stuff.

Chad Jordan: So this stages like you had to do the chemo first and then-

Kriss Sparks: I did chemo then I had to do radiation.

Chad Jordan: ... that could only go for so long before it really would ...

Kriss Sparks: Doesn't do anything.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. And then the radiation.

Kriss Sparks: Then I had the radiation, which was not bad. I mean, I went and I laid in the thing and they gave me a sunburn and then I moved on. At that time also that I had gotten a lump in my throat and I had seen an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor and he said it's not cancer. And even if it is, you're on chemo, it's going to kill it.

Chad Jordan: It's killing everything, yeah.

Kriss Sparks: Well, that's not true. There are different types of chemo for different types of cancer. But he said it was fine so ignored it and went about the rest of my treatment. Well, I had a double mastectomy, I had chest expanders put in that got infected so I'd have another surgery. I had several surgeries just kind of going fast-forward, I had a lot of surgeries. I've had about 30 surgeries since I was diagnosed. All leading to some kind of infection or the skin started to turn black and they had to cut away skin.
The port stopped working, too much fluid was in somewhere. All of these things were going on at this time. I had in 2016, in May, I had my revision. I had to wait a full year from the ... I just lost the word. Radiation. I had to wait a full year before I could get reconstruction. And I decided that I wanted to use my own tissue. My body rejects-

Chad Jordan: You already had the blood of an ax murderer running through your veins so you don't want to risk anymore.

Kriss Sparks: I don't want implants in case they fail, I don't want any of that stuff so they did a thing called a deep flap, which they take your stomach and your tissue and they take cells from your abs and then they rebuild everything. Well, I had complications from that surgery, I had to use a walker for a couple of months. My tubes got infected, the drain tubes got infected. Going back to my mastectomy, the doctor came out ... So this whole time looking on it, before he even did the surgery, they told me that I was stage 2B. So 2B basically you're a little further along. Some lymph nodes are detected, nothing too bad, nothing we can't handle.
After the double mastectomy came in and he said, "Unfortunately, it's gotten to your lymph nodes, all of 'em. The central node if fully full of cancer, everything node that I pulled or every," whatever thing that I pulled, "is full of cancer. You're actually stage 3C. And if we find anymore, you're terminal." And so-

Chad Jordan: This is 2016?

Kriss Sparks: This was in 2015 when I had the double mastectomy.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Kriss Sparks: So a year after being diagnosed, he told me that I'm basically going to die. It's never going to go away because it got into my lymph nodes and because of where they go in the body.

Chad Jordan: Right, they travel and take stuff everywhere.

Kriss Sparks: The cells are just dormant and we all never know, you can't map individual cells.

Chad Jordan: Now, did they give you a timeline? Is there ... Okay.

Kriss Sparks: No.

Chad Jordan: So you could be 80 years old at some point and ... All right.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. But I had the double mastectomy and then I had the reconstruction and then two months after reconstruction, the lump in my throat, I was like, "I got to see somebody." So I went to a different guy and he said, "Well, it's starting to pull on your vocal chords so we're just going to go ahead and take it out. I still had the drain tubes from my reconstruction and I was like, "Okay. Now I'm going to have another surgery."
Go to have this surgery and he takes out the left side of my thyroid along with this lump. And he came out and he told my husband, "It's not cancer, it's just a lump." And my husband's like, "Thank God, finally some good news after all of this." Two weeks later he calls and he says, "I am so sorry but it's cancer." And I was like-

Chad Jordan: Did it change into cancer over the course ...

Kriss Sparks: And he said, "Because of how it was located, they still had to send the sample away for somebody to be detected. And because of how it was situated, he didn't look at that side of it or something or ... I don't honestly know, he just said, "We've got to get the other side out and you have to do our one-on-one therapy." And I was like, "Okay. Is that chemo?" And he goes, "No, you have to swallow a radioactive pill and we have to make you radioactive."

Chad Jordan: What?

Kriss Sparks: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: That's a thing?

Kriss Sparks: That's a thing. And I said-

Chad Jordan: And wait, and is it a thing where you can't be around family and-

Kriss Sparks: Nobody can come near you, nobody can come near me. And I was-

Chad Jordan: You were literally radioactive.

Kriss Sparks: I'm radioactive. I took video of the room. Everything was covered. If I brought it in with me, it couldn't leave with me. So my husband, before they gave me the pill, they let me say goodbye to everybody, give kisses. He bought me a stuffed animal in the gift shop that I could just have while I was there but I would have to throw away before I left and I had to be by myself. Like they came in, in the bird flu suits, like everything.

Chad Jordan: What's the time processes?

Kriss Sparks: So it can get out of your system, they have to use one of the little doppler things before you're allowed to leave. It was a thing, like-

Chad Jordan: Like you went through a nuclear blast or something and-

Kriss Sparks: Yap. And they came in with their suits. I had nothing on and I was like, "Shouldn't I wear something or what?" They opened this metal test and like this smoke comes out. It was cool but it was like Sci-Fi thing. And they said, "You have to grab the pill, you have to grab the water, you have to drink this pill." And I was like, "Okay."
So I did all that and then they were like out. They were gone. I had a little slot that they could send-

Chad Jordan: They took one of those hazmat showers afterwards, they had to get washed down and here you are just popping the pill.

Kriss Sparks: That's cool. And it was like a prison cell because they had to slide the food through that little slot. Nobody could come in unless they had that suit. The nurses couldn't come in. If I had a medical emergency, hopefully they could get dressed fast come in there.
And then my daughter was in [inaudible 00:52:59] to see my oldest at this time and she called me and she said, "Mom, I'm making Battalion commander at my high school. Which is the first for that high school and she's a female. And-

Chad Jordan: So I need you to be here and see the ceremony.

Kriss Sparks: And that's exactly ... And she's like, "What should I do?" And it was for 24 hours later. So I called the doctor and I said, "So here's the thing, I'm not missing it. If I have to stand in the back and have my husband put cones around it, I'm not missing this. I am leaving against medical whatever." And he's like, "No." And I said, "Either you let me leave or I'm walking out."

Chad Jordan: I'm not a prisoner."

Kriss Sparks: I don't care. And he's like, "Well, this is what you have to do. Nobody around you, your husband can't touch you, your kids can't touch you." And I was like, "That's fine." So I left and I went and saw that. And then they did the thing and they said, "You're still radioactive or whatever. And people of course, at the high school, they knew what was going on with me and they wanted to come over and hug me and I'm like, "You can just wave at me from there. You don't want to get sick. It's radiation poisoning is what they would get."

Chad Jordan: I got the weirdest question and I'm sure it's a dumb question. Had you not worked since December 1st, 2014?

Kriss Sparks: I continued working. I worked all the way through chemo.

Chad Jordan: How are you ... Except when you're radioactive but ...

Kriss Sparks: I worked up to 30 hours every week while I was going through chemo.

Chad Jordan: Feeling like crap.

Kriss Sparks: Yap. I'm sure some of the haircuts were probably not great but I couldn't sit at home dying. It's what it is.

Chad Jordan: So it was kind of a therapy, working, yeah.

Kriss Sparks: It was a thing. In 2015, my manager had actually submitted ... She had told me that I needed to apply for the Wayne McGlone Foundation and I didn't know what that was. And she told me it's for stylists, it's for people that work with Sport Clips and it's to help you. 'Cause as you can imagine, cancer is very costly to have. And because I couldn't eat things that other people are eating or I can't do things that other people were doing and I have to have special stuff and I have to have ...

Chad Jordan: Oh, the medical cost alone.

Kriss Sparks: The medical cost and I was like, "Okay, you can submit it and do whatever." And she's-

Chad Jordan: And you had known about it at all.

Kriss Sparks: I didn't know what it was, I had no idea.

Chad Jordan: Thank goodness she cheated, she had been paying attention as a manager so that's ...

Kriss Sparks: And she handed me the brochure and she's like, "Just request the most. At most they can say, 'We can't do that much." Or maybe they will or whatever it is but just do this." And she wrote a letter about my condition and then my area coach April, who I met at class but really didn't know, wrote a letter about me as well. And I actually received the funds from the foundation twice actually.

Chad Jordan: Wait, what?

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. So they-

Chad Jordan: I've never heard of that.

Kriss Sparks: They gave me the max amount the first time and then when I went through radiation and was getting sicker and sicker and sicker, they gave me another check.

Chad Jordan: Do you know what it was? You were 1% of the recipients, yeah. Like I said, I've never heard of that so it's 99% of people only get it one time but-

Kriss Sparks: And it was the coolest thing in the world 'cause it came when ... I mean, my husband ... I had to finally stop working because I just couldn't ... Walking was hard, using my hands was hard, everything just became such a chore. And so it came at the perfect time and was able to help us with the bills. I mean, that was the biggest thing, was if I was going to die, I needed to make sure that my family didn't struggle. So that was ... I'm very thankful.

Chad Jordan: Well, I would personally ... I don't get the vote on any of this kind of stuff but for all I know, you could be the third, the fourth, the person that gets it the third time, the fourth time, the fifth time, into your 80s. I wish we could make some sort of policy for you with everything that you've been through.

Kriss Sparks: It really was ... It was a big deal. It wasn't something I counted on, it was really one of those ... I didn't want to do it because there are people that need it more. I had a working husband, I was working.

Chad Jordan: They need it more or "deserve" it more, anything like that? No. You needed it and I'm sure the committee looked it over and said, "Oh, of course. This is-

Kriss Sparks: And that's truly grateful. I mean, if I ever met those people, I don't even know what I would say because it really was a big deal. I still whether I deserve it or not, I was like, "Well, there's people that had to quit working a lot sooner than I did or they did quit working. I'm just stubborn and I just kept going back and working." So it couldn't come at a better time.
And the nice things that they said about me was very sweet, especially when April didn't have any idea who I was. She just was going off of what my manager had said. So I did the treatment for the thyroid and that went just fine. They took out the other half and I didn't have any more issues. There was a period there ... The thyroid cancer that I have is rare. It had gone outside of the ... I call it the containment zone and it always makes me think of Jurassic Park but it had gotten outside of my thyroid in the time from the one doctor telling me that it wasn't cancer, to the second doctor saying that it wasn't cancer and then it was.
It had actually spread outside of where it should have been. And it's medullary thyroid cancer, which is rare and you have 80% chance of only living up to five years if you have it, five to 10 years is what they say. So that kind of put clock on it and that was in 2016. And then nothing. I have to take chemo pills. I was taking chemo pills and then in 2017 my husband and I opened a auto shop. He wanted to start working on cars and doing stuff like that and I wasn't doing anything. So we opened that and then I wasn't feeling well and I went to my oncologist and she's like, "Let's do a pet scan," where they shoot you up with radioactive material and they scan your body.
And it was almost instant, it was within a couple of days and she was like, "Hey, it spread so we need to get you back in, need to start ... At that time, they just did a different kind of chemotherapy pill. I didn't have to do infusion but got sick. I lost all my hair again.

Chad Jordan: Nor had it grown back and ...

Kriss Sparks: No. It was-

Chad Jordan: How long had it gotten?

Kriss Sparks: Not long. I kept it short because I was like, "I'm not going to take the time." And so I lost all my hair again and it took about six months and then I was okay. We ended up selling the shop and I was looking for something, I was like, "Well, I'm very loyal to people who help me. And so I wanted to go back to Sport Clips. I was like, "I can't think of a better company to work for that actually cares, that really does care."
My manager had already moved on. She had moved to the Cayman Islands and I didn't know anybody-

Chad Jordan: She did so well at Sport Clips. She's just like, "I'm going to retire to Cayman's."

Kriss Sparks: I'm retiring to the Cayman Islands. And only one person was left that I had worked with at the shop that I was working at Fort Collins. And I was like, "Well, I'm just going to start afresh. I don't want to go back to a shop where I found out that I was sick, I just kind of want to cut that and just move on." And so I started working at the one in Longmont where I currently am.

Chad Jordan: What's the store number again?

Kriss Sparks: CO130.

Chad Jordan: 130, okay.

Kriss Sparks: And started working there in August, September of 2017, makes sense. Yes, 'cause I ... Yeah. So 2017. And then I was assistant manager within two weeks of starting there. And then some things here and there. I fell and broke my wrist in February of last year. The chemo has made my bones very just ... And I had fallen and it had broken at a diagonal and then back down this way. So it was like at a weird seven thing.

Chad Jordan: And you kind of need your wrist to be a stylist.

Kriss Sparks: You do. And it's my right one so I had to have surgery in February. And then in October of last year my knee was really hurting and so I went in and there was cancer tissue around my knee and my meniscus was torn. I didn't know this, my meniscus was torn. My knee cap had come loose from where it sits and was all the way over on the left side. And my knee had been locking and so I figured something was going on there.
So in April or October, they basically just fixed my meniscus, moved my knee cap back, tethered it or whatever and sent me on my way. But a week after that surgery, my knee started locking again and so I had to go back in. In November I had a Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy, I learned the whole word so I could sound professional. They basically-

Chad Jordan: I'm impressed.

Kriss Sparks: Thank you. I had a femur graft, I had my knee move back. They broke my tibia and my knee cap and then reset them together. I was back at work a week after but with the brace.

Chad Jordan: Oh my gosh.

Kriss Sparks: Actually, all three of my surgeries with my wrist, I had the wrist brace on and was still cutting hair a week after. The first surgery with my knee, a week after and then this major one a week after because I'm stubborn and I don't listen to the doctors.

Chad Jordan: And you're strong mentally.

Kriss Sparks: Yes. And-

Chad Jordan: Physically.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. And then I found out in January that the cancer was back again, right after my husband's birthday. And they were like, "Unfortunately, this is probably going to keep happening." I have an expiration date. That's just what it is. And so ...

Chad Jordan: As do we all.

Kriss Sparks: Right.

Chad Jordan: It's just that whatever it's going to be and yours has more challenges along the way that you keep rising up and facing.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. So I started chemo so there's nothing to do surgery on, they can't remove any more so it's basically a treat and comfort situation than a cure.

Chad Jordan: Well ...

Kriss Sparks: That's where I'm at now.

Chad Jordan: And we're getting ready to do something fun by the way, this has been heavy.

Kriss Sparks: Yes. It's a lot.

Chad Jordan: This is probably the most in-depth cancer conversation that I've had so thank you for sharing that entire story. But this is your first convention. We're at the Sport Clips Annual Convention, the first Huddle. We call it Huddle. So we're getting ready, when we wrap this up we're going to take a selfie.

Kriss Sparks: Okay.

Chad Jordan: And I'd like to post it and then if you are willing for whoever sees my post and is here, do you want to high five, do you want a fist bump, do you want to hug? What do you want them to do when they see you?

Kriss Sparks: Whatever they're comfortable with doing.

Chad Jordan: Is there one that you ... Do you hate huggers?

Kriss Sparks: I'm not a big hugger.

Chad Jordan: Okay. So it won't be a hug.

Kriss Sparks: I've had random people hugging me the entire time I've been here so it's a little odd when I don't know who they are. But I mean, fist bump is great. I'm with you girl, you got this. It's always empowering to see the two types of people are the ones that want to hug me, the ones that want to know all about me, they want to have a beer with me, they want to be in my circle. And then they're the ones that are scared to death to come anywhere near me because they know that they're mortal. And when you're in a place in Vegas, it's really hard to party.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, that's where the convention is.

Kriss Sparks: It's hard to party when somebody sitting next to you that's dying.

Chad Jordan: Reminding you that time is ticking.

Kriss Sparks: Yes. And it's even ... They'll give me some weird looks when I'm sitting there drinking a beer and they're like, "Can you do that? Is that a thing that you can actually do?" It is a thing.

Chad Jordan: Can you enjoy life? How does that work?

Kriss Sparks: I can. I refuse to quit. I have four children and a husband that depend on me daily and I have zero time to be sick.

Chad Jordan: Well, like I said, your story's been amazing. I love the fact that you're here with me today and thanks for making it this far and not ... Are you sure people in Vegas might have been avoiding you 'cause maybe it's the radioactive, they're still worried-

Kriss Sparks: It could be.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. So they might be a little bit some people that are like that but ...

Kriss Sparks: I've also gotten I look like a scary biker thing with the durag and I have tattoos and so I've been wearing tank tops, it's hot. I think that's what it is. It's not so much-

Chad Jordan: They're holding their wallets and their purses closer to them. No, I'm just kidding.

Kriss Sparks: It could be.

Chad Jordan: So here's what we're going to do. I got 10 questions to wrap this up and get you thinking a little bit. So just randomly off the top of your head, if you could have one superpower what would it be?

Kriss Sparks: Invisibility.

Chad Jordan: Okay. For the reason you just explained or already before that?

Kriss Sparks: 'Cause I think it would be fun to randomly tap people on the shoulder or just mess with people. I think it'd be hilarious.

Chad Jordan: What is your personal motto?

Kriss Sparks: Mine is I am strong, I'm a warrior.

Chad Jordan: I am strong, I'm a warrior. Other than where you live now, where else in the world would you most like to live? Cayman Islands has already been taken.

Kriss Sparks: Okay. Anywhere in the world would be Italy.

Chad Jordan: Oh, I love Italy. It's my favorite non-American country. Who's a celebrity you'd most like to meet one day?

Kriss Sparks: That I haven't met?

Chad Jordan: Yes.

Kriss Sparks: Okay. Reba McEntire.

Chad Jordan: Oh, Reba. Heck yeah, okay.

Kriss Sparks: Yes.

Chad Jordan: Which words or phrases do you most often overuse?

Kriss Sparks: Dude.

Chad Jordan: Dude, okay.

Kriss Sparks: I say dude a lot.

Chad Jordan: And I think you've been good on this podcast. I'll check the transcript. I think you've been good. What sound or noise do you love to hear?

Kriss Sparks: My children. Anything, whether they're fighting.

Chad Jordan: Even if they're fighting? Okay.

Kriss Sparks: Oh yeah.

Chad Jordan: All right.

Kriss Sparks: Because I'm here to hear it.

Chad Jordan: All right. And yes, excellent. And then, what sound or noise do you hate? Gets on your nerves.

Kriss Sparks: Children crying or babies crying.

Chad Jordan: Babies crying that aren't your own of course.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Kriss Sparks: Can't do it.

Chad Jordan: Well hey, we're at Huddle. You won't hear any babies. Although, I don't know. Edward Logan has his kids here so just ...

Kriss Sparks: You know, it's funny that Vegas there's a lot of babies here in Vegas and I've heard it a lot since I've been here.

Chad Jordan: We're at Huddle, you'll be fine.

Kriss Sparks: Yeah. I will be good.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, trust me. If you could have had any other profession other than your own, what would it have been that you'd be good at?

Kriss Sparks: That I have done in the past or-

Chad Jordan: No, that you think you would have been good at. What profession that you hadn't tried?

Kriss Sparks: I think maybe UFC fighter.

Chad Jordan: Oh, nice. I mean, you would have kicked butt, can you imagine?

Kriss Sparks: I think so.

Chad Jordan: With your drive.

Kriss Sparks: I think so.

Chad Jordan: The greatest achievement in your life has been ...

Kriss Sparks: To be a mom. I mean, that's probably my biggest achievement to be ... My kids are amazing so I've achieved great success with my children.

Chad Jordan: I love that answer. All right, last question. If heaven indeed exist, what do you hope to hear when you walk through the pearly gates?

Kriss Sparks: Your children and your husband are going to be just fine.

Chad Jordan: That's sweet. Hey, you are so strong and amazing and lovely. This has been ... I expected 20 minutes, this has been the best hour of my week just to get to hear what you're doing. Not what you've been through but what you're doing to make it this far. And like you said, something's going to get you one day. I hope we're together in our 80s and 90s and talking about, "Hey, remember that podcast we did when I had that thing?"

Kriss Sparks: I'm trying. That's my goal.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. Let's commit to that. And if people see you at Huddle, I'm hoping we're going to go for the fist bumps and you-

Kriss Sparks: Fist bumps work for me.

Chad Jordan: Fist bumps and what? You go girl or ...

Kriss Sparks: You go girl or here's a beer on me.

Chad Jordan: Oh okay, all right, there we go.

Kriss Sparks: That works.

Chad Jordan: Okay, that works too. Thanks everybody for joining us on this special edition. It's been a pleasure to hear from Kriss and what an amazing part of Sport Clips that she is. Thanks you're a hall of famer.

Kriss Sparks: Thank you.