The good is that I have now completed 5 of 12 chemo treatments of this taxol drug.  This week will make number six, and then I'll be halfway there.  Yeah!  I can't wait to be finished with chemo all together.  It looks like the end of the line on the chemo will be around the 2nd week of April.  The other good thing is that this chemo has been quite a bit easier on me than the first drugs I had to take.  I have had little side effects.  This is where I get honest and frank with each of you.  I told myself when I started this blog that I was going to be upfront about every aspect of this journey whether good, bad, or just downright ugly.  The bad side effects that I have had lately is nose bleeds and rectal bleeding.  I think that it is just part of the chemo drying me out, but you never know.  The rectal bleeding began a few weeks ago and was just here and there when I had a bowel movement.  Then, it started happening more often progressing to every time I go to the restroom.  The amount of blood seemed to increase too.  I called my oncologist, Dr. Pruitt, and spoke with his nurse.  I had told him about two weeks ago about it at my follow-up, but he just said that we would get it checked out after chemo was over.  When it got worse, I thought I should let him know.  I didn't think I should wait 7-8 more weeks to get it checked out.  He agreed with me.  They sent me back to my gastroenterologist, Dr. Ellington, to have him check me out.  He said he thinks it is just from the chemo or hemorrhoids, but he told me I needed to have a sigmoidoscopy.  This is basically like a colonoscopy, but they only go part of the way into the colon to check things out.  I had my first colonoscopy last summer because of similar problems and a history of colon cancer in my greatgrandmother at age 34.  So basically, this week I will delay my normal Wednesday chemo until Thursday after the procedure.  The good news is that I don't have to drink the two liters of that nasty "Go lightly" crap.  I remember barely being able to swallow the last of each liter without vomiting last time.  I'm not sure who named that stuff anyway.  Obviously, they never tried the product for themselves before naming it.  There is nothing "lightly" about it.  Well, at least I can laugh about some of these things I'm having to go through because if not I might have to cry at times.  I told a friend yesterday it seems that as soon as I get one thing off my plate, something else gets put on my plate to replace it.  I think to myself, "If I can just get through this chemo, I'll be so glad".  Then, I start thinking, "Well then I'll have to do radiation and then surgeries and then......".  It seems like it will never end, and then will I ever feel normal again even when it is all over?  I have a new normal.  My life will never be the same as it used to be.  I will always be a cancer patient, and I feel that I will always think about my cancer and worry if it will come back.  These thoughts and worries can definitely get the best of me sometimes, but I always have to remind myself that I am not in control.  Thank goodness for that.  I am in good hands with God, the ultimate physician, and he will take care of my every need and worry.  I will continue to trust him and know that hard times produce character and strengthen my dependence on him.  This life is full of hard times that test us, so we have to continue to run the race towards our ultimate goal - heaven.  How glorious that will be when none of us have to suffer or stress about these wordly things!  I can't wait for that day.  Until then, I pray for more strength, faith, and courage to face each day knowing that the fight is worth it and that God is shaping me through this.  What ever glorifies him, I am willing to go through.  Anyway, please pray that the procedure goes well and that this will just be another temporary side effect from this nasty chemo.  Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.  They mean so much to me.  Love y'all.   Shay
 
Today we got a wonderful surprise after church with a winter wonderland outside.  Here in the Panhandle, we never know if it is going to be sunny, snowing, raining (not often), or windy (often).  Chris, Bren, and I had a great day.  We had a great sermon at church with our church family, a wonderful catered Valentine's luncheon after, and then headed home for a short nap and family time.  We always enjoy when Chris gets to start up a fire in the fireplace too.  Well, I have good news to report.  My sweet husband, Chris, just passed his 11 month test at his work.  He is no longer a rookie firefighter!  I am so proud of him because he worked really hard this last year with studying and trying to become part of the guys at the firehouse.  As if this wasn't stressful enough, he was also trying to be superdad and husband for a sick wife and a kid that needed him a little more.  I thank him for his hardwork and dedication to being the best he could be for his job and his family.  I can't believe his first year is already over, but I can say I'm glad it is.  We can finally sit back and relax a little with his testing being over.  I say that, but Chris just started his EMT intermediate course at work with 17 other firefighters.  This means that for 7-8 weeks he is in school from 8 am - 5 pm (Monday-Friday) instead of working a rotating schedule at the firehouse.  I know he isn't too excited about studying a lot for this stuff too, but he will be glad when he gets done and is that much closer to be a paramedic along with being a firefighter.  Again, I am so proud of him and love him so much.

So we just got back from a wonderful ski trip with Chris' family to Red River, NM.  We decided last year to start this tradition in place of exchanging so many presents between the adults at Christmas time.  Instead, we take a ski trip, which we all love.  There were 13 of us this year, so we had a full cabin that is conveniently located right across the street from the main lift (awesome!!!).  We got there Saturday and just relaxed and went to eat that evening.  Then, we skied on Sunday and Monday all day.  Yes, I skied and loved every minute of it.  I had bronchitis last year and was coughing my head off and had very little energy throughout the trip, so you better believe that I'm not going to let some cancer or chemo get in my way.  I needed to get away and enjoy some fresh air.  Chris and I tried to teach Bren to ski this year.  She is only 3 1/2 yrs old, so she is too young for ski school.  She looked so cute in her "hot pink" (her favorite color) ski outfit, but she only made it about an hour and a half that first day.  This was ok at that point because I was about to send her and Chris to time out if it lasted any longer.  The second day, however, she did so much better.  Her cousin, Brylan, was out of ski school and on the bunny slopes too so that helped.  We had bought a harness with a leash attached to it to put around her.  She didn't want us to let go of her initially, but once we showed her she could do it and we wouldn't let her go she loved it.  She was yelling, "Look Paw Paw. I'm doing it.  I'm skiing!".  It was so cute to watch.  I love doing new things with her because it always brings new joy to situations that sometimes seem so mundane.  Next year, we will have to work on turns and stopping, but it was a start for sure.  This year the snow was so good in Red River.  They had gotten 20 inches before we got to town, and it snowed off and on while we were on the mountain and at night.  It made for awesome skiing!  I love it!  I tried to soak in all the moments of skiing this year.  The mountain was beautiful with all the snow on the trees.  I was so thankful to be feeling good enough to fly down the slopes.  I was so glad to have some alone time with my hubby finally and to snuggle on the ski lift as we enjoyed the views.  The relaxation time was so appreciated while we curled up on the couches by the fire in the cabin after skiing.  Lastly, I love being with family and am so thankful for each of them.  I'm so blessed to be a part of the Shelburne family, who have shown me such and love and support since Chris and I got married.  I love that we all get along, enjoy our time together, can laugh at each other's misfortune (Josh, one of Chris' brothers, falling off the ski lift and the lift operator telling him next time he can slow it down for him when he gets off - so funny), and the fact that we love each other no matter what.  Thank you God for this.  I can't wait to go again next year.  It seems to get better each year.  I will just be glad to have hair next year so I don't get so cold or get wind burn on my neck again!

Well, I have 3 chemo sessions down and the 4th coming up this Wednesday.  After this week, I'm a third of the way through with chemo!  Yeah!  Everything has still been going well.  I have had some diarrhea issues, which I know everyone loves to hear about.  I would rather have this than the alternative of constipation like I had with the first chemo drugs.  I would rather get that crap (literally) out than to keep it stored up for weeks for sure.  Other than that, I feel good.  My energy levels are up, and I'm working full days no problem.  I'm just ready to get the chemo over with.  The good news is that my hair is starting to grow back.  This is a surprise to all of us because this chemo can cause hair loss as well.  My head literally feels like a baby chick.  It is fine like a baby's hair and seems to be brown still.  Chris told me today that I would be swallowing a lot of words if it came back in blonde.  I want to clarify this statement and defend myself at this point.  Yes, I might have made or passed along some blonde jokes through the years and have been known to say that I'm so glad I'm a brunette.  This does not mean that I don't like blondes, and I do think blondes can be beautiful.  I'm just happy to have brown hair and hope that it comes back this way.  Chris was just giving me a hard time.  I know he misses my dark, long hair, so I'm sure he is really glad it is coming back.  I have some more news to report.  My sister, Tiffany, just recently found out through genetic testing that she has the same gene (BRCA 2) that I have.  This caused her and her husband, Cory, to make some difficult decisions.  She has an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 27% chance of ovarian cancer.  After much thought, she has decided to go ahead with the bilateral mastectomy.  I applaud her for her courage and support her 100% in this decision.  With those kind of odds, I would do the same in her shoes.  I told her that I would rather see her recover from a hard surgery than to see her have to go through this cancer battle.  She is planning on doing the surgery around June of this year, so please be praying for her and her family that she will have peace about everything and that everything goes smoothly.  Also, I found out Friday that one of my cousins on my mother's side of the family just found out she has breast cancer.  Her name is Lori, and I ask for prayers for her and her family as they start their fight against her cancer.  I know she is overwhelmed and stressed with this news, but I know that God is going to be with her like he has been with me.  She is a fighter and has a great support system around her too, which is such a blessing.  It seems like cancer has become so rampant in the last few years, and I wonder so many times why this is.  I don't have a lot of answers to this and can speculate on many causes, but all I know is that we are never promised tomorrow.  This means that we need to enjoy each day and live for Christ each moment, and not just when times are good or on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Let each day center around God.  I encourage each of you to get up early or stay up a little longer each night to spend some alone time with God.  How can we become more like Jesus and know God more if we don't read his word?  Don't put it off until tomorrow because who knows if you will have a tomorrow?  Only God knows when he will call us home, but in the meantime know that God loves each of you personally and completely.  Embrace that love and show it to others as you get to know him more, and he will give you peace and joy you have never known before.  God bless and love all of you.  Shayla

Please continue to pray for my friend, Darcie Milsow, who is battling colon cancer.  She has had a rough patch and recently had a big surgery to fix some intestinal issues.  She is still in ICU trying to recoup.  Pray for quick healing and for her sweet family that