So I had my surgery exactly one week ago (July 17th). As most of you know it was 3 procedures in one. I had my chemo port removed from my chest, my chest expanders replaced by implants, and my complete hysterectomy. The day before the surgery was Brenley's 4th birthday, so it was a special day. However, the night before was tough. I was so thankful for a sweet and healthy 4 yr old daughter but selfish at the same time. I was bitter because I did not want to have to make the decision to have a hysterectomy so early. I wanted another child of my own with my husband. I cried and Chris cried. It was a hard night. There was not much talking being done. We just held each other at times and cried it out. It just sucked frankly. I just knew I would be a basketcase the next morning at the hospital. It was weird though. The next morning I was calm and had a peace about it that can only come from one place - God. You know this week I've had extra time to think. My friends at work gave me a great wall art piece that spells "FAITH" when I finished my chemo. I've been thinking what this means to me. Faith means trusting God has a hand in every single moment in our lives and carries us in times (like just the other day) when we feel like we can't go on. Faith means knowing God isn't going to give us more than we can handle and that he is using terribly hard times to strengthen our faith and trust in him. Faith is believing that staying true to God through some of the worst days of your life is so worth it because some day we will be in a glorious place free from physical ailments. It is giving full control to him and saying "God my life is yours completely and whichever direction you want me to go is where I will". Faith is sometimes giving up what we want because we know deep down that God has something better for our lives. Faith is sharing your story with perfect strangers because you want them to know how great your God is and wanting to spread his word however you can. Faith is knowing that God is good in all circumstances and that he loves us even though we are broken and sinners. We don't deserve his love or his faithfulness to us, but Jesus took care of that on the cross. Praise God for that. What a sacrifice! Just about when I want to pout about my problems, God has a way of reminding me what all I should be thankful for. Thank you God for this. You are awesome and I love you so much.
God has worked through my cancer in so many ways. He has not only been using this to mold me into a better person (which is definitely still a work in progress), but he has used this to mend some relationships and start new ones. I had lost touch with some really precious people in my life (you know who you are), and I really didn't know how to reach out to them. God has opened new doors of communication with these people, and it has been such a blessing in my life. I really missed these people and spending time with them has brought happiness to my heart. A lot of great memories came rushing back into my mind. I love you girls! I also recently got the opportunity to meet a sweet young lady that I adore. I first heard of her story with breast cancer through her mother-in-law, who wrote on one of my first blogs. I was so motivated by her story and felt like I was looking in the mirror. Her name is Jenny Mills. It's crazy. She is only a few years older than me and went through practically the same cancer battle I did. Her husband is a firefighter like mine. Her daughters name is Brae and mine is Brenley (who we call Bren). Our daughters are only like 10 days or so apart in age. She is real athletic and laid back like me. We even take trips with our in-laws to Red River every year. We both have 3 dogs (2 big outside dogs and 1 smaller inside dog). I could go on and on with the similarities, but the bottom line is she is awesome. She contacted me because they were going to be in Amarillo a few days, and so we met up for lunch one day. Chris and Bren came with me and all of her crew was there. Brae, her daughter, was too cute and instantly bonded with Bren and myself. She was up in my lap like she had known me forever. Jenny and I talked a lot about all of our cancer journey details, and the boys were busy talking I'm sure about firefighting stuff. We had the best time getting to know them more. I'm so glad God opened doors for me to meet Jenny. I know our friendship is only going to grow from here. I told her I feel like we have been friends for years, and she said the same thing. It was awesome. Again God works through all things.
So I guess I underestimated how tough this surgery was going to be. It still doesn't compare fully to my mastectomies, but it has been a booger. The surgery itself ended up taking about 4 hours. I was so excited, however, because I woke up in recovery to pain but no nausea. I had requested Dr. Felder, anesthesiologist, because he had done a great job in my sister's surgery for her. He took some extra steps to try to combat my normal nausea and vomiting after surgery, and now he is my best friend officially. I will request him from now on. He is awesome. I remember a few things from recovery, which is a time when you are really vulnerable to doing some things that are less desireable and downright embarrassing. I remember for some odd reason that my right eye would open but my left for some reason would not. I kept trying to raise my head and look around with my left eye, but it was stubborn. I kept telling the nurse that for some reason my lower abdomen was cramping as if they hadn't just cut me open and ripped all my female parts out right before that! The nurse was awesome and gave me warm blankets to try to calm down my belly. I got up to my room and felt like a million bucks. About two hours later, I was up walking the halls. I felt kinda like a drunk woman, however, stumbling around and blabbering about anything and everything. I guess at the time I didn't think about "overdoing it". Well, I did. I got back to my room and was in and out of bed several times, and what happened next? I suddenly got nauseated and vomited to my dismay. I felt fine after this but maybe that was God's way of saying, "slow down Shayla". I don't remember all the details to that day except for the fact that I wanted that durn catheter out ASAP. There is nothing worse then thinking you need to pee and trying to tell yourself to just let it flow freely down a tube. Yuk! My awesome nurse graciously (and probably annoyed with my whining) called Dr. Appel to ask if we could remove it. She agreed and out it went. I didn't care if I had to peel myself out of bed every hour that night to pee on the toilet. It was well worth it to not have that thing. Anyway, that night after overdoing it earlier that day, I went to get out of bed and instantly the moaning began. Chris was so tired from the activities of the day that he was snoring all curled up on his tiny pull out chair beside me. I struggled to get to the edge of the bed, and that took me back to my mastectomy days mentally. Thank goodness for hospital beds that can help sit you up. I couldn't ask for better nurses while I was in the hospital. Thank goodness my doctors put me on the oncology floor with the nurses I have grown to love and respect. They took great care of me, and I got to go home the next day. I'm not going to lie. I struggled physically for the first 5-6 days after surgery. Now, I'm feeling a little better and trying to do more. I don't want to overdo it though. I feel like my body has been through a lot this year and it is kinda in shock at this point. It needs a break I think. The good part about it is that I have come out of this with very nice and perky boobies! I have an awesome plastic surgeon that worked his magic and that I trusted with every last detail. The girls are bigger than they used to be but not too big. He calls them "sporty". I guess that is what I need since I like to workout, so that will work. Well, I better hit the hay as my mother and father used to say to us. I want to thank God for a successful surgery and for my recovery so far. God has blessed me in taking away all my cancer (evidenced by a cancer free PET scan recently) and getting me to where I am at now in my journey. God bless.
So I don't normally like posting pictures of myself, but some of you probably haven't seen me since I started growing hair (and dark brown at that thank goodness). I finally decided that I was tired of wearing a wig on Sundays and to special events, and I was also tired of wearing a hat all the other times. I am proud to say that I can now use hair products again on my head. I throw some gel in it with some hairspray on top of that. I turn my head upside down and blow dry it for about a minute. Then, WABAM I'm like an instant chia pet. My hair stands up off my head, and I love it. It is so easy getting ready that I'm not sure why I ever want hair longer than this. Just kidding. I miss my long, dark hair for sure, but this is kinda fun getting to try different hairstyles that I probably never would have tried.
Well, there isn't much to report lately thank goodness. The doctor's appointments are getting further apart, and I haven't been getting lymphedema treatments anymore. Tammy, the OT who saw me for lymphedema for my left arm, and I decided that since radiation was over and my arm seems to be a little better we would hold off awhile. I still have to wrap my hand everyday to keep the swelling down, but I get to take those off in the evening and sleep without anything on. It's a nice break from it, but again things could be much worse. I'm just so thankful to God that the lymphedema did not get worse during radiation. There was a big chance that it could have, but again God is good and answered those prayers. So the next big step in my fight now is my upcoming surgery. On July 17th, I will be having my breast expanders taken out and my implants put in. Dr. Proffer will be performing this, and he will also take out my chemo port from my chest. Then in the same surgery, Dr. Appel (my gynecologist) will do my complete hysterectomy. She thinks she can do this laparoscopically and not open me up. Of course, if she sees something that concerns her she might, but she doesn't expect this. The whole surgery is suppose to take around 3 hours. I will be in hospital for one night at least. I ask for prayers for the doctors and nurses that will be tending to me and for a smooth recovery after the surgery. Please pray too that everything they work on will look as it should without any surprises. I am confident that I am cancer free at this point and that God is taking care of me physically. This surgery is going to be tough for me emotionally because this isn't the way I saw my life going. I really wanted another baby of my own, and being told that I really need to take out my ovaries and female parts is hard for me. I know it is what is best for my health and to reduce the risk of cancer, but that doesn't make the decision any easier. I'm already dreading this surgery and will probably have some dark emotional days after it too. Times like these are when I realize that prayer may be the only thing that gets me through it. God has blessed us with one amazing daughter in
Brenley, and I thank him so much for her. I ask him to just get me over this last hurdle, so I can feel like I can move on with my life. I'll be honest when I say that I will be glad to not focus on cancer for awhile.
I am happy to say that Chris and I have now finalized our plans to take Brenley to Disneyland in September. I think I may be as excited or more as she is to go. We got our plane tickets, hotel, Disney tickets, and our rental car. We will spend a 3 days at the park and then get up the next day to leave for San Diego to spend another 3 days enjoying the zoo and the beach. Bren has never really seen the beach in person, so I will be glad to take her. None of us have ever been to California either, so I'm glad to finally get out there. You know I thought I probably don't have enough paid time off from work or don't need to probably spend the money. Then, I thought you know life is short and you never know if you have tomorrow, so I am going to make the most of my time with my hubby and kiddo. We had so much fun taking our first family vacation to SeaWorld in Sept. 2010 and seeing the excitement of all of it through Bren's eyes. This is why I can't wait to take her to Disneyland to see all the princesses that she loves. It will be such great memories for all of us. She is about to turn 4 in two weeks, so this is a great time to take her I feel. I think Chris and I need the break too for a little relaxation and family time away from all the stress we have been through.
You know I feel that my Chrisitan walk is kinda like my workouts. I find myself tired and too busy sometimes to get that workout in, and I pay for it when I skip out. I don't feel as well and my joints hurt. Lately, I have been working out hard at the gym and doing insanity workouts, and honestly I have dropped about 5 pounds and feel so much better about myself. This is the same with my Chrisitan walk. I was so motivated to get to know God on a much higher level and I still want that, but I find myself making excuses some days for not reading my Bible and praying. I am much better than I used to be at this, and at least I find myself feeling really guilty when I put it on the backburner. I have decided that maybe I need to do away with some things that I normally find important to me if it takes away from God. These could be things like getting on facebook, pinterest, or watching television. Sometimes this is hard to do because we want to do these fun things, but they can take up a lot of our time. For now, I will try to limit my time of these things to open up more time with God. I know I will feel ultimately better and refreshed for doing this. I need God everyday and I know he thinks about me and each of you daily too. He desires our attention and focus on him and loves it when we chose him. I chose God because I know where I want to spend my eternity. I encourage you this week and in the weeks to come to find something that you know distracts you from your walk with God and get rid of it or limit it. Thank you for praying for me, my family, and my upcoming surgery. I praise God for each of you and the influence you are in my life. Please feel free to write a quick note or comment on my blog because reading these are always a big encouragement to me. God bless and keep striving to know God more. Love y'all. Shay