So I guess this is my last post for this year of 2011.  I can't say that I'm going to miss much about 2011, but I'm definitely ready for a new year with new blessings.  God has given me new persepective on life this past year, and I'm appreciative of that.  I feel like I've learned to focus less on myself and the little stressors in life and focus more on him.  I think we get so wrapped up in our every day lives and what we think we have to get accomplished in that time frame, and we forget that God wants us to let go of some of these things and rely and focus on him more.  That is my goal for 2012 for sure is less of me and more of him.  I'm going to appreciate the little moments in life with my family and friends and thank God as often as I can for all the many blessings he gives me daily.  God is good through all circumstances and even cancer.  Well, I finished my last chemo this past Wednesday for this round.  Goodbye "red devil"!  I will not miss you at all.  I feel about the same as I do every week after chemo.  I'm wearing my zofran infusion pump until Monday to help control nausea, but my stomach and intestinal tract are still suffering.  They just do not like the chemo and neither do I.  I feel run down physically, and that is hard when you have a liitle 3 1/2 yr old Barbie or Rapunzel that wants you to play with her.  I have a hard time saying "no" to that.  Luckily, I have had more time at home with the holidays and my sweet husband, Chris, has again stepped up to the plate to help a lot.  Yes, my head is pretty much bald now except a few strays here and there, but my eyebrows and eyelashes have held up thank goodness so far.  I go back to Dr. Pruitt, my oncologist, on January 11th for a follow-up.  I guess we will determine then when I will start my taxol chemo treatments.  I will do 12 of these total.  They will be every week for 2-3 hours each.  Please pray that these will go much smoother for me than the first four especially since they are closer together.  I'm just ready to be completely done with chemo and then past the radiation after that.  I will probably finish chemo around mid March or so and then be done with radiation by May 2012.  Then, I will try to finish my plastic surgeries (2) before scheduling my hysterectomy.  2012 will be a busy year for me but hopefully an ending of this cancer stuff and the beginning of feeling better.  I told Chris that after all of this hard stuff I will deserve a good vacation in 2013.  He said he will take me anywhere I want to go at that point.  I will be scheming until then on where my heart desires and which island that will be!  I want to thank each of you that have continued to read my blog, send me cards and notes, and support our family through this time.  We will never be able to thank you enough.  Your support has kept my spirits up during really hard times.  God has been so good and faithful through this and will continue to fulfill our needs in every situation.  I wholeheartedly believe that God is using me to touch others through this cancer.  I can't say that I wanted to go through this, but I am more than willing if it brings him glory and honor.  That is what we are all called to do.  We are to seek his will for our lives whatever that may be and accept the challenges he gives us with faith and perserverance for his good.  He is worth every minute of it.  I pray that 2012 brings new perspective on your life and your walk with our glorious God, and that he showers each of you with continued blessings and good health.  Let's all live every minute to serve God in 2012!  Love y'all.  Shayla
 
I'm sorry I haven't written since I shaved my hair off two weeks ago, but my energy levels have been down with this crazy chemo.  Now my hair is really becoming scarce and patchy.  I'm just ready for it to be bald cause this prickly feeling is for the birds.  I even had it shaved again to try to make it feel better.  There are some perks, however, to this hair loss thing.  I don't have to wax my upper lip or shave my legs or armpits any more.  Got to look on the bright side some times.  It has been kinda frustrating lately because I'm used to getting up early to run or workout and then going through a full day no problem.  Now I'm lucky to make it to 7 or 8 pm before I have to go to bed.  I guess I have been doing more lately because this last week before chemo I felt pretty good overall.  I have been trying to work closer to 40 hour weeks, run my errands, and get ready for Christmas.  This has all played a toll on my body.  This week I had my expanders filled with 90 cc of saline with Dr. Proffer on Tuesday.  He was funny.  As soon as I walked in he said I had to take off my hat so he could rub my head.  He really meant it too, so when he came in to do the expansion, I removed the hat.  He stared at my head several times and told me that I had a really great rounded head and that I should rock my balding hair look without my hats.  I told him it was too cold outside to do that.  It would be fine if it was summer time.  I'll take his complements though because after all he is a plastic surgeon.  We are going slow on the expanders doing it about every 2 weeks because of how much skin Dr. Arredondo had to take with the mastectomies.  It felt pretty tight after the 90 cc of saline this week, and I'm still a little sore.  However, I can tolerate this no problem compared to the chemo crap.  Dr. Proffer's stuff is the highlight of this journey.  I have to find as many positive things along my path that I can because otherwise you can feel bogged down with all the negative things that stress you out.  I asked Dr. Proffer about the knot under my left arm too while I was there.  At first, we thought it was another seroma (fluid filled area that my body would absorb), but it felt much harder to me.  I have been having some bad nerve pain down the back of my left arm when I try to extend my arm all the way out or lift it up too high, so me and my friend Susan Kendall, another physical therapist at my clinic, have been working on it.  It seems that the nerve pain is a little better, but the knot under my arm is really scar tissue from digging for the lymph nodes.  Dr. Proffer said he can put me on neurotin for the nerve pain if needed and then when we do the next surgery to put in the implants he can clean out some of that scar tissue.

This week I had a follow-up with Dr. Pruitt, my oncologist, as well.  I had bloodwork at Northwest on Wednesday morning and then went over to his office for my visit.  It was mostly to check my counts and to do an overall body check to make sure everyting was going well with chemo.  He decided to change one of my meds from receiving it in my IV before chemo to an oral dose pack that I took for 3 days.  This med is named Emend.  I took the first one an hour before chemo and then a pill each morning for the past 2 days.  I don't know if it was changing this med or the fact that my body may finally be getting a little used to the chemo, but this round went much smoother.  I am still wearing the zofran pump to give me a constant dose of anti-nausea meds for one week.  I'm very thankful for this.  I have still had a little uneasy feeling in my stomach, but overall this has been much better.  God again has been good and answered many prayers for this.  I still so appreciate each and every prayer that goes up to our heavenly father on my behalf from each of you.  I meet and hear from new people all the time that tell me that they pray for me daily and have never even met me.  That is so humbling, and I feel so blessed.  I have never felt so loved and cared for in my life.  I can never thank God enough for my family and friends.  You are awesome!  Thank you to Laurel Warren (Hayes) and Melissa Cox (Hayes), who were my college roommates, for driving up to entertain me during this chemo session.  We did some remeniscing on old times and had some good laughs that made the 2 hours go by faster.  Then, we went to eat with our husbands after chemo and continued to have fun.  It was a good day even though I was nervous as usual for the chemo.  I guess worry has continued to be my hardest battle spiritually during this journey.  I want so bad to give everything up to God for him to carry this burden for me, but something in me just can't give up that control at times.  Believe me I want to.  I have enough on my plate to deal with daily so I would love to just give it all to him.  I'm working on this though.  I've been reading Acts in the New Testament of my bible lately, and I've learing a lot about Paul and his journeys.  He was so faithful to God through many trying times in his life and was willing to give it all up for God in the end.  He knew his journey would end in a bad way with being beat up and jailed and placed on trial many times, but this did not stop him from spreading God's word and kingdom.  He was devoted to his calling and didn't let hard times stop him from serving our wonderful God.  He deserves our all each day whether or not we feel good or regardless of how bad our day may seem.  I try to remind myself when I get down, that there are way worse situations out there than what I'm going through and that I should be thankful for each day that I have to serve our God.  What an honor.  I've been getting up early each day to start my day with reading my Bible and a daily devotional book as well.  It has been so nice to start my day by doing this because I feel that it gets my focus on the right things for the day and makes me feel closer to God.  Again, cancer has changed my life in many great ways.  Thank you God for new perspective.  I hope that each of you are enjoying the holdiay season and getting ready for Christmas.  Please remember the true meaning of Christmas is not the presents but the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ, who lived and died for us so that we could go to heaven and live with God some day.  This should be our focus during this time.  Enjoy your time with you family and some relaxation hopefully too.  I want to end with a quick prayer.

Dear God, our heavenly father, I want to say thank you for each day and each breath that I have been given to serve you more.  I thank you for my precious husband, child, friends, family, and support system that have raised so many prayers to you on my behalf.  Thank you for this time of the year and what it means to us, and please never let us forget that wonderful day when our saviour, Jesus Christ, was born in that little manger,  Thank you for the life he lived and the sacrifices he made so that we can come be with you in heaven some day.  I pray for a heart of a servant like Paul that was willing to give it all up for you no matter what his circumstance.  Please continue to shape me into your mold so that I can be a better Christian each day for you and so that I may be a light to others to know you more.  Thank you for caring about every aspect of my life and for walking through each day with me hand in hand.  I love you God.  Amen. 
 
You know there are moments in life that define you and this was one of them.  I am definitely a breast cancer survivor and warrior now.  Today I decided that the hair loss was getting worse, and I was ready to just get it over with, so we shaved it off tonight.  To my surprise, I had forgotten about a scar at the beginning of my right forehead hairline from running into a cement tunnel in middle school.  I can't help it that someone called my name while I was running toward the tunnel to hide during hide and go seek distracting me enough to crack my head back.  And yes I continued running on through the tunnel straight to my teacher with a bloody head to tell her I thought I had hurt myself.  Funny times.  Also, I surprisingly have a very smooth, rounded head.  Demi Moore has nothing on me girls.  Just kidding.  My brave husband, Chris, and my sweet princess, Bren, went with me.  I wanted them to be a part of this moment so that we could walk through it together as a family and so Bren wasn't shocked at Mommy's new look.  Chris shed a few tears, which made me cry a little.  Bren did great.  I was nervous cause on the way I talked to her, and she said she was so sad that Mommy's hair would be gone.  However, she came right over to me after it was over and hugged my legs and said, "my Mommy".  It was so sweet and uplifting.  God's hand was definitely in that moment.  It is so weird cause I was so nervous about it right before, but it is kinda freeing in a crazy way.  I'm proud to join those other women in the fight to get our lives back from this terrible beast called cancer.  Cancer doesn't control me.  Only God has control of my life and that is so comforting right now.  I'm just glad to get over another hump in this battle and to have it behind me now.  Yes, I got a wig too that looks a lot like my hair, but I'm not sure what I will be comfortable with just yet.  We'll see.  Well, the good news is that I had my 2nd chemo this past Wednesday (11-30-11) at Northwest, and it went much smoother. My sweet aunt and uncle from Lubbock came up to entertain me cause Chris had to work this time.  My aunt, Phila, is a brave ovarian cancer survivor and finished her chemo at MD Anderson in Houston in February.  She knows firsthand what I'm going through and has been great support for me.  I'm so glad they came to be with me.  It made the time go by faster.  I had my regular concoction of anti-nausea meds for the first hour or so.  Then, came the 10 minute Adriamyacin ("Red Devil") and then Cytoxan for the last hour.  Right after the chemo ended, we attached my Zofran (anti-nausea) pump to my port.  I change out the infusion pump every day to get a continuous supply of the med like when I was in the hospital.  It has made a great difference for sure.  I can't say I haven't had some slight nausea issues or feelings of my stomach being on edge, but it is nothing compared to the road I went down the first time.  This week I worked every day for almost 8 hours each day except today I took off the afternoon to take care of my hair situation.  I'm pretty tired I can say from this week.  I had a lot on my plate between the breast expanders, the chemo, taking care of my pump daily, working long hours, and shaving off my hair.  I'm ready for a relaxing weekend and a slow week coming up.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the beautiful women that I have met along my path that have been supporting me through their past battles or current battles with cancer.  Here they are - Karen, Jenny, Darcie, Mary Ann, Sherry, Phila, Louise, and Jackie.  You women give me such strength and hope for a better tomorrow.  Your strength you have shown and the advice you have given me help me with each hard step along my path.  I am so proud of each of you and thank you for your courage and faith.  God has definitely placed these ladies and many more in my path for a reason, and I can't thank him enough for that.  You don't know what a blessing that is.  God really put things in perspective for me when I was in the hospital cause before that I was so focused on things like the hair loss.  Then, I went down that horrible path of feeling terrible with the nausea and stuff, so now the hair loss seems much easier to swallow having gone through that time.  God has a funny way of showing you things in a different light to help you get through them.  I have tried every day to find many times a day to tell God what I'm thankful for even if it is little things or in times when I'm having a hard time finding something positive to think about.  I do it in my car, walking into work. at work, wherever.  You can never thank him enough for the blessings that he gives us daily.  He loves a thankful heart and for our focus to be on him.  I find that if I focus on him more, I think less of my problems and worries.  It so peaceful and rewarding.  I encourage each of you to seek God on a completely different level than you ever have before and quit making excuses like I did before on why you haven't included him in every aspect of your life daily.  He wants to know each of us more because he never stops loving us or caring about us.  He is so good all the time.  Cancer has saved me in more than one way.  Thanks again for all the support everyone and I hope you enjoy my new look.  God bless.