First, I know it has been months since I wrote, so I will update you a little on what has been going on with me.  Like I wrote in March, I did have my right shoulder surgery as planned.  It was rough.  I now can fully say to my patients that come in after that surgery that I have felt your pain and can sympathize.  I did end up having a SLAP tear (labral tear) in my shoulder that Dr. Veazey said was a lot larger than they had expected and had been there a long time.  He did not end up repairing the rotator cuff tear because it was not completely torn.  He did do a bicep tenodesis (taking my long head of my biceps tendon and reattaching it to the front of the humerus with a screw), and he also tightened down the capsule in my shoulder and shaved off some of the acromion (bone at the roof of the shoulder).  Needless to say, I'm glad to have that behind me, but I am still hurting almost daily.  I can say that my shoulder feels better in many ways like not feeling like it is stuck and needs to pop.  However, the catching and popping in the back of my shoulder that I have had for at least 7 years now has not resolved and almost feels just as bad.  I love Dr. Veazey and fully trust his judgement.  I went back to see him recently for another follow-up, and he said he has thought long and hard about my shoulder and my scoliosis issues on that side (with my rib hump and winging scapula).  He said that I am just a really tough case when it comes to that shoulder.  I am just prone to having shoulder pain and problems.  He stated he was surprised that I had not had more problems in the past and that it was only because I stay in good shape that it has done this well until now.  He basically stated that they can give me injections when needed and that I can continue to treat myself for pain at my clinic, but that he expects me to have another major shoulder surgery in the next 15-20 years.  Yikes.  That stinks.  As for now, I will just suck it up and carry on.  If you see what time this post is being done, you will know that I am writing you in the middle of the night.  You know if it is not one body part hurting it is another.  On Sunday afternoon, I got up like I have a million times from our couch while talking to Chris, and I caught my foot on the large wooden leg of our leather ottoman.  Needless to say it really hurt and Chris and I heard my toes pop out loud.  I limped into the kitchen to walk it off and felt better that night.  The last few days I have been walking fine and didn't really notice too much pain, but tonight a little after midnight I woke up to a serious, throbbing pain in my left middle toe.  I went into the bathroom to check it out and I can't hardly move that toe or put any pressure on it.  That is so weird because it is like a delayed pain.  I think maybe though I still have some neuropathy in my fingers and toes from my second chemo, so I don't always feels things fully.  That was about 2 hours ago, and I can't seem to go back to bed.  I guess I will call my doctor in the morning to see if she'll order an x-ray to see if I fractured it.  Great that is all I need right now is to have another body part that is injured.  It never ends!  Please pray that this pain goes away because it even hurts when I walk.  As far as my follow ups with my oncologist go, I went to one in May and it went well.  I am still going every 3 months, but I'm feeling pretty good these days minus the joint problems - LOL.  Please continue to pray for good health for me and my family.

I've had a lot on my mind lately, so I feel like I just need to get some stuff off my chest.  First and foremost, our little sweetie, Brenley Shay, just turned 5 years old this past Tuesday.  We had the best party for her yesterday to celebrate at a place called Cheer Texas.  We had a wonderful turnout from our friends and family, and it just made Chris and I realize how wonderful and blessed our family truly is.  We have a lot of people who really care about us and our little princess.  With this being said, I have a lot to be thankful for.  As most of you know from reading my blog, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer almost 2 years ago now.  Brenley had just turned 3 years old a few months before this.  These past two years have been the most scary and out of control times of my life.  I have never had to rely on others for so much and especially on God.  It was good for me.  If you know me at all, I put up a tough and strong face when I really don't want people to know I'm weak and afraid at times.  The truth is that I am not as organized and on top of things as I let on.  I am very insecure at times.  I also think that I let my mouth get the best of me.  I heard a sermon at church this past Sunday that got to me.  Chris and I decided to visit Hillside Christian church because my sister texted me (yes during church - LOL) and said Francesca Battistelli, the Christian singer we hear on Air One a lot, was doing a surprise visit to their church to lead the praise worship time.  Christian stations are almost always on in both our cars, and Bren loves to sing so she belts these songs out sometimes in our car.  We told her that Francesca was going to be there, and she got excited.  We sang several songs first with the praise worship leader, and then Francesca lead a few songs.  Then came a moment I will never forget.  I looked in the row in front of me while singing, and Brenley was standing a little bit in the aisle so she could see Francesca.  The chorus of the songs says something to the effect of lifting your hands high to praise you God, and Bren so sweet and innocent began lifting her hand up.  She held it so high and so proud in the air.  She was so into that song and that moment.  The tears just began streaming from my face.  I know she is just 5 years old, but she knows God and she loves him so much.  Chris and I pray a lot that God will mold her and shape her into a beautiful tool for him and that she will do something great for his kingdom.  In that moment, I decided as I prayed to God that I was giving her up to him because she was HIS child first and no matter if this means he sends her far away some day to spread his word I will trust his will for her life.  It was such a peaceful and glorious moment to see her praising God at 5 years old.  Children are so pure and wonderfully made in his image, and I know God put us in that service at that very time to show us a little glimpse of how much he loves his children.  Tommy, their preacher, then spoke a great sermon about our words and our hearts.  He said that they have been studying Proverbs and how they had talked a few sermons back about how our words can affect others and reflect what is in our hearts.  So then today he spoke about several scriptures that talk about our hearts and how we can filter what we say most of the time but if our hearts aren't pure then we are just putting up a front or a façade to make ourselves look better than we are.  This is what I do sometimes.  Don't get me wrong, I don't always hold my tongue.  I say things sometimes too quickly and don't think before I speak and I hurt people's feelings.  For this I am truly sorry.  I say things at times, like Tommy said, about other people because I think it makes me feel better about myself and look better to others.  I should never let my insecurities come at the price of talking bad about others.  For this I humbly apologize.  I have a new mission, I am going to work on my heart.  I not only need to let go of some things in my life like anger and control issues, but I need and want God to shape my heart, like I prayed for Brenley today, to reflect him more.  I want to be a better Christian so I can be a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better wife, and a more importantly a better mother to Brenley.  I thank God so much for each and every day I get to spend time with Bren, help raise her, and to see her grow into a beautiful, Christian girl.  I pray often that God will give me good health for many years to come so I can continue to see glimpses of him in little moments like today and so I can continue to serve him and bring others to Christ.  This is what life is all about people.

Well continuing on the subject of being a Christian, I have one other thing on my heart.  I had a conversation with a great friend of mind one day at the coffee shop.  It has been weighing on my mind a lot since then.  We were talking about our spiritual walks and how certain sins in our lives just seem to have a grip on you.  You want to give them up completely, but you don't know exactly how you would feel if you did.  It controls you.  It gives you a feeling of contentment and happiness.  We all have this sin or this idol in our lives.  It may be popularity, money, material things, nice cars, nice houses, or any sin that takes your focus off God.  My friend told me that he or she (don't want to be specific here) was struggling with something and that she or he was falling into this trap of sin.  He or she had almost justified having this sin in his or her life because God accepts sinners and accepts us as who we are.  I asked this person one serious question and it was this.  I told her or him that it's true we are all sinners and that we all struggle with things in our lives.  The next thing I said was this, "If you knew there was one sin in your life that God said if you didn't give up you wouldn't make it to heaven, would you give up that one sin?"  She or he thought about it and then said they didn't know for sure.  I thought wow, really???  I know that after going through what I have in the last few years and with death knocking at my door, I would give up anything to be eternally with our God in heaven.  I wouldn't hold onto anything to sacrifice living an eternity in hell.  I knew two things in that moment.  I need to examine my own life to decide what these idols or sins are that I haven't given to God.  The second is that I need to pray more for my friends and push them to give it all up to God and be better Christians.  If you are my friends, please hold me accountable to Christ and for what he teaches us in the Bible.  Don't let me settle for being a mediocre Christian but push me to be an ALL-IN Christian even if that means hurting my feelings some times.  I need to be put in my place sometimes and believe me when I say God has done this for me many times in the last few years through moments of humiliation.  Let's all strive to be better people and better servants for Christ every day.  Live for every day and remember that you don't know when God will call you home, but when he does how rewarding it will be to hear, "well done my good and faithful servant". 

This Bible verse came to mind in 2 Timothy 4:

 "1In the presence of God and of Christ
Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and
his kingdom, I give you this charge:  2Preach the word; be prepared in
season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and
careful instruction.  3For the time will come when people
will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they
will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching
ears want to hear.  4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

 6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Wow, I long for that day but until then I am going to strive to fight the good fight.  Let's put our toughest game faces on in a world that wants to mock Christians and lets stand for what we know is right.  Lets not settle for what the world tries to convince us is acceptable, but lets stand for God's truth and what he calls us to be daily (not just on Sundays and Wednesdays).  Lets all strive to know him better each and every day through reading our Bibles and living as if he might call us home at any moment.  We are not invincible.  We are, in reality, actively dying.  I'm sorry if this has gotten long, but think of this one thing.  If you think about your funeral day, what will people say about you?  Will your life you lived here on Earth reflect Christ or will you just see yourself in that mirror?

Ok.  The last topic at hand that Chris and I have really struggled with in the last 6 months or so is the possibility of adoption.  I didn't really advertise this information to everyone because it was a tough time for us, but a few months ago we thought that we were going to be the proud new parents of a baby girl.  We had been told about a sweet, young Christian lady who was pregnant with a baby girl, and was unselfishly going to place her for adoption for many reasons.  Some of the most important of these reasons being that she wanted her child to be raised with a mother and a father in her life, in a strong Christian home, and because she felt like she couldn't provide for this baby like she wanted to at this point in her life.  We developed a great connection with this birthmother, and we thought for about a month or so that she was for sure going to pick us to raise this baby.  To our dismay and after lots of prayer on both our parts, the birthmother chose another Christian couple.  It was really hard for us, but we couldn't fault the mom.  She had to go with her heart and with God was leading her to do even if that wasn't what we had wanted to hear.  I think it was really hard on me because as a mother and wife I've struggled with the fact that I got cancer and then had to have a hysterectomy.  I wanted to have another baby with my husband and to be able to give Brenley a sibling, but I can't and that kills me some days.  It was weird because I just knew when God put this situation in our laps, that he had something good in store for us.  Then, when it didn't happen I guess Chris and I were a little dumbfounded.  We didn't know what to think about that.  Looking back after giving it a little time, we know that if for not other reason but to help this birthmother get through that really hard time in her life and to support her when she needed it, it was all worth it.  That sweet baby went to a loving, Christian home even if it wasn't our home, so God's hand was in that decision for sure.  We still feel that God has a plan for us, and that maybe he placed this in our lives to let us see that he may still want this for us and that he can always make anything happen if it is his will.  We truly want his will for our lives, but we ask for prayers for this.  We love Brenley so much but we also know that we have a lot more love to give and a good, Christian home to provide another child if God wants us to.  Please pray that if God wants us to adopt a child that the right doors will open and he will place something in our paths.  We are just giving it up to him fully.  Thanks for the prayers and please feel free to contact me privately any time I can pray for you.  What a blessing and privilege it is to pray for one another.  Until next time my friends, love and blessings.  Shay

 
Well, I haven't written in awhile, which could mean good things because there is no bad news to tell.  I had another 3 month follow-up with my oncologist, Dr. Pruitt, a few weeks ago.  My bloodwork and exam with him went well and he said everything was looking good.  I don't go back again for 3 more months, which doesn't bother me too much.  I hate (I know that it t is a strong word) walking into a cancer center and the fear that comes over my mind and stomach of the unknown.  I think the unknown will always haunt me after having cancer.  I'm going to be honest when I say that I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about my cancer returning.  Every ache, pain, and new symptom that I have makes my mind wonder towards cancer thoughts.  Believe me when I say that do not want to feel or think this way because I don't want cancer to have that control over me, but I can't seem to get past it yet.  A good friend of mine who has gone through breast cancer years ago told me that those thoughts gets less with time.  She didn't deny having them still.  It's like this cloud that hangs over me, and frankly it is hard to see the light sometimes through this cloud.  I want to let the light (God) shine through and give it all over to him, but my inadequacies and insecurities seem to take over this part of my life.  I feel so helpless sometimes.  Chris and I talked about it the other night and we agreed that we feel more stressed in our lives since my cancer.  We reminisced about the good old high school days when we only worried about what team we were playing in sports that week or what was the next "fun" thing we were going to do with our friends.  I miss those days.  Life is stressful and so overwhelming at times, but it is in these vulnerable times that I realize more than ever how much I need God.  When I feel sometimes like I'm lost and don't know where to place my foot for the next step, he somehow takes my foot and places it down exactly where it needs to be to help me find my path again.  Thanks be to God for his faithfulness at all times whether or not we are faithful and trusting of him in that moment.  I'm just so glad that I have a God who loves me for me and that he knows my heart fully.  He knows that I want to follow his will for my life and that I know he ultimately has my health in his hands.  I will trust him with all aspects of my life and serve him no matter what.

Speaking about serving him means that I need to spread his word and let people know about him.  I decided awhile back that I was going to start letting my patients know I am a Christian and that I am praying for them.  I started giving them a little bible verse card with a little saying on the back that I added.  It has been amazing how something so little has really opened up a door for my patients to not only share their faith but it seems that they trust me more too.  Their demeanor seems to suddenly change for the better.  In fact, today after I told my patient that I am praying for him, he asked me to pray right there for him.  I did this and it was so rewarding.  I love knowing that God can use each of us right where we are to change a life.  I encourage each of you to think of one little thing that might influence someone that you come into contact with at your work or in your daily life.  I promise that God will guide you to step out of your comfort zone and will reward you greatly by doing this.  God is good.

Well, the title of this update is "another surgery", and yes it is true that I am again going under the knife.  The only difference is that this one has nothing to do with my cancer stuff.  Many of you know that I was a very active young kid and playing many years of sports (even into college).  I guess I just never thought that all those fun years of sports would start hitting me so young.  I have been dealing with right shoulder pain and problems for about 7 years now.  I saw an orthopedic doctor 7 years ago, and he wanted to do surgery on me then but he passed away from cancer.  Then, I got moved to one of his partners who injected my shoulder a few times and then he moved to San Antonio.  At this point, I just dealt with my pain and treated myself up at work.  Starting in November or December of last year, my shoulder pain went from moderate to severe and began being constant.  I felt that something was stabbing me in the back of my shoulder and that my shoulder just feels like it is in a bad position.  I went to see a new orthopedic surgeon who ordered an MRI of my shoulder.  I soon found out why my shoulder was hurting so bad.  I have a rotator cuff tear, 2 possible labral tears, my acromion (bone on top of shoulder) is tilted downward and is pushing against my rotator cuff, biceps tendonitis, and bursitis.  Now I can confirm that I'm not being a baby about it.  I have legitimate shoulder problems.  Dr. Veazey and I decided that it was time for surgery in December.  I put it off, however, so I could go snow skiing with my husband's family (our yearly ski trip) in Feb.  Dr. Veazey ended up injected my shoulder to try to get me by until the surgery, but this only gave me a little relief for about 2 weeks.  This is actually one surgery that I am so ready for.  My surgery is on Wednesday morning, and I will be out of work for awhile.  I will have to wear an immobilizer for 6 weeks and will do physical therapy for awhile too.  I hope I make a good patient.  You know therapist make the worst patients sometimes!  Lol.  Well, I ask for prayers that my surgery will go great and be successful in making my shoulder feel better.  I need all my limbs to work properly for my job.  Well, I will leave you with prayer request.  Thanks again for following my story and for taking time to read my blog.  God bless and feel free to leave a comment if you feel inclined to do so.  Love - Shayla
 
I'm sorry it has been awhile since I have written.  I guess I have just let everyday activities and stresses take over lately.  I am full of mixed emotions right now.  I don't know what the deal is, but I feel overwhelmed a lot.  I thought maybe after all my cancer treatments and doctor's appointments slowed down I would just get back into the groove of everyday life, but it hasn't really worked out that way.  I think it is a lot of things around me that have gotten me down.  I just know way too many close friends and family members who are going through cancer and health problems.  I think I have mentioned in the past that I have a close friend named Darcie Milsow.  She has stage 4 colon cancer and has been in and out of the hospital a lot lately.  I think my emotions get the best of me when she is not feeling well or in the hospital again because my heart aches for her.  She has a sweet husband that cares so much for her and 3 wonderful young children who just want to spend time with their mom.  I know it kills her to be away from them, and I know her husband, Brent, is having to take on a lot more roles when she is not able to.  I know how stressful it can be when you can't get out of bed because you feel terrible and you just want to feel good enough to carry on with everyday life.  The hard part is that I want to try to help them however I can, but I don't always know how.  I would do anything to take her pain and heartaches away from her.  It kills me to see her hurting.  I guess one thing I can do is to pray for her and I'm begging each of you to add her to your prayer lists at church and in your daily prayers.  I know there are ongoing financial needs with this family as well.  Darcie has been bravely fighting for over a year and a half with tons of medical bills and travel expenses.  She was unable to work last year, and she has tried to go back this year.  She is a school teacher.  The hard part is that she has already been hospitalized 3 times since school started.  She is already out of sick leave, so now her paychecks are getting docked.  We try to help them as often as we can financially and I know friends and family do too because we know they have enough stresses already on them.  To make matters worse, her refrigerator just went out (for good) a few days ago and they lost a bunch of groceries.  They ended up having to spend money on a new one.  When it rains it pours unfortunately.  I've been thinking lately about a fundraiser that I can do for them.  If anyone has any good ideas please call or text me because I would love to do as much as I can to ease their load.  I know what a blessing the fundraisers were to Chris and I as we faced lots of medical bills and time off of work.  I know some of you do not know her or her family but if anyone wants to donate grocery giftcards, restaurant gift cards, or money to this sweet Christian family that would be such a blessing to them.  I can give you their address or you can send it to me, and I will make sure they get each gift.  I realize that sometimes people just can't give, so even a card of encouragement or telling them you are praying for them would be awesome.  I think as Christians God puts these things on our hearts for a reason, and I know we are called to love and care for others especially in times of need.  I've decided that there are a lot of things I would like to buy or do, but sometimes I have to ask myself if my money would be better used to bless others.  This family would never ask for any help themselves, but this has been on my heart lately.  More than money though, I pray to God for Darcie for pain relief and for precious time with her kiddos and husband.  You don't know how blessed you are if you are in good health because when you feel bad most of the time it can be so emotionally draining and depressing.  I know, however, that God is faithful and and bigger than her cancer and medical problems, and he will give her the strength to keep up the good fight.  I love you Darcie and your wonderful family.  I'm so glad God brought you into my life when he did.  You are a blessing to me and always will be.

Well, I guess I should update everyone on my medical status.  As you can see in the pic of Bren and I, my hair is growing like a weed.  It is thick and curly for sure.  Believe me when I say that I am not complaining, but I think some crazy cow licked the back left side of my head (which I did not have before) and now my hair does not go the way I want.  I used to part my hair on the right side and now it wants to go the opposite direction.  If you know me very well, you know I am a creature of habit.  I do not deal with change very well.  I just can't get used to brushing my hair the other way, but I guess I should just be glad that I don't have the 6-8 cowlicks that my husband has.  The cow really liked his head!  I'm excited to report that I have my first haircut next Friday to clean up this mop.  It is all different lengths and getting to the point where I don't really know what to do with it.  I am very excited to have this problem versus a bald head though.  At this point, my hair is easy to do and I can get ready really fast.  Chris likes this but I know he misses my long dark hair.  I know many of you have said that you think I should keep my hair this length awhile, but I cannot.  I must have my long hair back.  It's just me.  I can't believe that on Monday I have my 3 month follow-up with my oncologist.  I'm feeling pretty good these days minus the the continued tension in my neck.  I had been worried for a little while because I was losing weight.  I have lost 20 pounds since I stopped chemo in April.  I have been eating much better and limiting things like sugar and meats, but I continued to lose even when I wasn't trying.  I have been working out a lot too, but I've always done that.  I think some stress at work and some of the things I mentioned earlier about friends and family having difficulties added to this.  I think it really hit home when my oncologist told me at my last follow-up that even a 10 pound weight gain can increase my chances of recurrence of cancer.  I'm trying everything in my power to not let this happen and to stay healthy.  I am currently taking anastrozole everyday for 5 years to also help reduce my risk.  I didn't tell a whole lot of people, but I had to have another surgery on October 11th.  It was part of my breast reconstruction process.  Most of you know that I had severe scoliosis and had surgery when I was 14 yrs old.  Because of this I have a rib hump that sticks out on my right side of my back.  Basically, my ribs push out on that side which pushes my scapula out.  This makes me a more difficult case for my doctors when it comes to certain things.  When I had my implants placed in July, I did well, but I noticed that my right breast appeared smaller than the left.  This was due to my scoliosis issues.  My plastic surgeon offered to change out that implant to make both sides match, so I took him up on the offer.  Shoot, if I'm going to have new boobies they may as well be perfect my friends!  Right before the surgery that morning, I told my doctor that I have two places on that left breast that wouldn't close up and were draining.  Because of this, he decided to open that side up too.  He used the implant from the right that he removed and put it in my left side to get a fresh start.  It all went really well and I'm healing great.  I have a wonderful plastic surgeon that has done amazing work on me and my sister.  By the way, Tiffany had surgery 4 days after mine to get her implants placed and she had a hysterectomy too.  She has recovered well from this, and went back to work this week.  She's a tough cookie, and I'm so blessed to have her by my side through all this so we can support each other.  I love that girl!  She's my best friend!

I'll admit that in my struggles to get my life back to a more "normal" state, I have disappointed myself at times.  I feel like my spiritual life is always on a stinking rollercoaster that I want to get off of.  I did really well with praying and reading my Bible for awhile and then lately I've let life get the best of me.  I want God to have the best of me.  Why is it such a struggle to balance everything in life like working, taking care of your family, financial worries, and many other things?  I have to remind myself that God never promised that our lives would be easy or that we wouldn't struggle at times.  I miss the good old days when I was younger and let my parents worry about these things!!!  I know I'm blessed and don't have near the amount of worries that a lot of people may have, but I can't help but feel overwhelmed at times.  Life kicks into high gear, and I find myself bouncing off the walls of the course just hoping and praying that I don't crash.  The problem lies in the fact that most times I try to drive the car alone and forget that it's ok to let go of the wheel and let God get the car back on the right path.  He is our seatbelt and our safety net to keep us from killing ourselves.  Life truly is a highway, and I want to drive it all day and all night long but not without my guide-God.  It would be pointless without him.  Don't forget he is always there with you no matter what you are doing.  Whether it is driving to work, at the grocery store, working out, in the bath, or sleeping, he is always watching and waiting for you to include him in all the details.  He loves everything about each of you, and he desires for us to need him and call out to him.  When life gets you down, remember we always have an open line with someone on the other end waiting to help us.  What a relief!  God is so good.  God bless.  Love ya - Shay
 
So today was my first day back to work.  I felt like a kid again going to my first day of school until I arrived back in the clinic.  I realized how much I missed my work friends but not so much working Monday through Friday or Saturday.  I really enjoyed being home with my kiddo and husband more and the blessing of having less stress in my life.  Believe me when I say that I love my job and am so blessed to have an amazing, Christian boss who cares so much about each of us, but I could be a stay-at-home mom.  Now if I could only win the lottery!  I guess you actually have to play to win, however.  Thank you God for my wonderful job and my co-workers who take such good care of me, laugh with me, and truly care about my life.  While I was off I actually enjoyed some "ME" time.  I went to a coffee shop one day to read my Bible, I sat out on the driveway in a camping chair to enjoy the fresh air, and I did some much needed things around the house while enjoying the peace of not having the tv on.  I have made some resolutions while I've been off.  I want to listen more and talk less.  I want to work with less complaining.  I want to be more thankful for the opportunities God gives me at work.  Lastly, I want to gossip less and try to bite my tongue more.  I'm at the end of the new testament and am realizing much more how often in the Bible God calls us to love one another.  This means no matter what they look like, how they act, how they live their lives, or what their beliefs are.  Who am I to judge?  I'm a sinner and can be ugly at times.  In the last days if I'm going to be judged and held accountable for everything I did on this Earth, I want my list to be narrowed down!  I fully believe in the fact that Jesus died for our sins and thank God for forgiveness, but this doesn't mean that I have a free pass.  That means that every day is a battle to be better, to do better, and to be more Christ-like.  I have many other things that I am working on as well, but these are at the top of my list.  I want to be an encourager and not a person who tears people down.  I want God to work through me daily to show people how much I love him and how wonderful a life centered around God can be.

I just started reading the book "Heaven is for Real", and I'm real excited about getting a glimpse into what heaven may be like through the eyes of a sweet, innocent child.  I've decided that this life is nice but is full of lots of evil and bad things that happen to good people every day.  When God calls my number some day, I will be sad to leave my friends and family, but "Don't cry for me Argentina".  I will be in a much better place free from medical problems, pain, stress, sorrow, and struggles.  I can't wait!  I have realized how precious each day of life is and how short life really is, but I have a promise of a paradise with my God where I will never die.  A place where we can spend our days not worried about the daily grind but where we can praise God with every thought and word.  Wow!  Thank you God for this promise if we just keep our faith in you and trust your will for our lives.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to talk to and hang out with some friends in my life that I really love and admire.  I want to take this opportunity to truly thank you girls (and you know who you are) for really stepping up to the plate when I needed you the most.  In the last year, I went through some of the hardest and worst days of my life.  I struggled at times to find the strength to just get through each day, but you picked me up.  From the frequent phone calls, texts, meals, and cards to driving from long distances to be by my side for those brutal surgeries, you showed me how much you care and love me.  I love you for that.  You have a special place in my heart always and are the true definition of a best friend and sister.  I thank God for you often.  Not only have I felt God's warm, loving arms around me more in the past year, but I have realized how blessed I am with amazing friends and family he has put in my life over the years.  I couldn't ask for more.  Thank you for caring about me and my family, for praying for us, and for being a wonderful support system.  You make a girl feel so good!

I called this blog "back to the grind" but I'm thankful to have a grind and the people in it.  I'm learning at this time to move on with my life without cancer in the picture and finding the new "ME".  I'm liking the changes so far and am hopeful that the future will be brighter and more fulfilling in more ways than one.  I liked my life before cancer, but I am so thankful for what cancer did for my life and how God is using it to change my heart.  As for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!  God bless each of you and I love ya.  Shay
 
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.
 
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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

 
First I want to say thank you to all the veterans and current military personnel who serve our country to give us the freedoms we enjoy daily.  Your dedication and willingness to be away from your families is so appreciated and respected today and everyday.  Well, I am so thankful to have a day of rest away from work to be home with my sweet Brenley.  I was so excited to get to sleep in today, but luckily Bren woke up at 6:45 am.  She must of had a bad dream because she woke up crying and saying that "Daddy hurt my feelings".  I knew that wasn't true since her Daddy was already at work, but I was still mad at him for hurting her feelings in her dream and waking her up!  Just kidding.  I was sad she woke up so early and then she curled up beside me, kissed me on the cheek, and said "I'm so glad that I get to stay with you today".  This made my heart smile and also made it much easier to wake up and get the day going.  So radiation is going well.  I can't tell any effects from it except the dark tan I'm getting on my left side under my arm and across my chest.  I just wish they would tan all of me instead of just one part.  I want my tan to be even.  I only have 11 more treatments left and then I'll be done with that chapter too.  I'm on my second month of taking the tamoxifen, and it seems to be going fine.  I have to take a baby aspirin everyday with it because of the increased risk of blood clots, so I've noticed more bruises on my body lately.  Other than that, I'm feeling pretty good.  My hand is still swelling from the lymphedema, and I'm still getting treatments three times a week.  Praise God that it hasn't gotten worse though with the radiation because this could have happened.  It actually seems to be a little better, but I have to wrap it each day to keep the swelling down to a minimum.  I can live with that I guess.  My hair is really starting to come in and get fuzzy.  And yes it is dark brown!  I'm almost to the point that I need to use gel or hairspray on it cause otherwise I look like a peach or like I have bed head.  I'm also getting my eyebrows, eyelashes, and arm/leg hair back.  I can't say that I missed my arm or leg hair, but I sure have missed my eyebrows and will look forward to having to pluck them in the near future.  I will not complain about shaving my legs either.  The small joys in life!

Well, Tiff had her double mastectomy this past Tuesday.  I got to be in the OR with her to watch her surgery.  She had the same doctors, so I just asked Dr. Proffer and Dr. Arredondo if they would mind me watching for the medical knowledge.  They didn't care.  It was awesome.  I hated seeing Tiff go through that, but it was really neat to watch.  No, I didn't pass out or feel faint at any point.  The surgery lasted about 3 hrs and 15 mins and was a success.  They did the mastectomies and then Dr. Proffer placed her expanders.  She was hurting pretty good the first night, but the day after she was doing ok.  She could sit up with the help of the hospital bed.  They sent her home not even 24 hrs after surgery, and then the pain and muscle spasms hit.  She had a rough first night home like I did.  You go from having morphine and good meds in hospital to just hydrocodone and valium every 6-8 hrs and suddenly your pain and spasms become a real issue.  I feel for her and know exactly how she feels firsthand.  That is not an easy surgery or recovery.  She is starting to get around better.  I've gone over to help her take a couple baths.  The first time was pretty funny.  She did good getting into the tub and sitting down slowly, but when it came to getting from a seated position to on her knees to wash her hair was another story.  She tried to tuck her legs under her, but then she struggled to get her trunk forward over her legs because she can't use her arms to push.  I ended up having to get in the tub with her and pull up on some cheeks to get her to her knees.  She couldn't tolerate me pushing on her back because of her drains and soreness.  I can say it was quite hysterical.  The things we will do for our siblings who we love so much!  Sorry Tiff but I had to tell that story.  Tiff says that she is fine one minute if she doesn't move and then the spasms suddenly start.  She is definitely getting a little better each day and is on the road to recovery.  Please keep those prayers coming for her and her husband and kiddos.  I know she is really missing seeing and holding her kids.

I've had some sadness and joys around me lately with my friends.  I ask for prayers for my sweet friend, Carey Nazario, who recently lost her husband after 32 yrs of marriage.  My heart really hurt for her.  I pray that she will look to God for strength to find a new norm in her life and that her heart will be able to go on after such a loss.  There is also a very sweet guy at our work that recently found out that he has a brain tumor and has to have surgery soon to remove it.  I don't want to mention his name just because I'm not sure if he wants everyone to know, but pray for him too.  God will know who you are praying about.  My friends, Bekah (who is a occupational therapy assistant at NWTH), has not had a lot of changes.   She is the one who had the brain aneurysm right before Christmas.  She was in Denver at a neuro rehab center, but they are about to move her back to Lubbock now.  Her parents live down there.  I ask for continued prayers for her and her family for healing and big changes in her medical status soon.  As far as good news goes, my dear friend, Darcie Milsow, just had a PET scan during her colon cancer treatments.  I'm pleased to say that the scan showed no new growths!  Praise God!  She is a fighter.  She will continue chemo, but I know the good results will help give her some more strength to continue her fight.  I love that girl.  She gives me strength.  We go to lunch regularly to talk and enjoy each other's company.  She is a great friend and a blessing to everyone who knows her.  I also wanted to report on my cousin, Lisa Weatherly, who I am so proud of.  She recently started a weight loss battle which she is documenting through a blog like mine.  I have not only seen a change in her physical apprearance with her great weight loss recently, but more importantly I've seen my old cousin Lisa come out.  She is smiling and laughing a lot more than she used to and I love that about her.  She is hilarious and used to make all of us laugh a lot.  I've always wanted happiness for her and I think she is finding that more these days.  Congrats Lisa and keep up the good work.  We are all so proud of you and love you!  Again sometimes God uses hard times in our lives to make us who he wants us to be.  It is through battles and blood, sweat, and tears that shape who we are.  We can either let them knock us down or we can draw closer to God during those times to have him bring us back up to a level we never knew we could achieve.  We can't do it on our own for sure, but God can.  He is so much bigger than cancer, brain tumors, death of a spouse, and daily struggles in our lives.  Don't waste your time worrying about these things.  Let go and let God have them.  Let's enjoy each and every day and turn our focus on the positives in our lives and be thankful to God for them.  This is the only way we will ever have comfort, peace, and happiness.  Thanks again for reading my blog and wanting to keep up with my battle.  It means more to me than you'll ever know!  Smile life's not that bad!  God bless.  Shay 
 
Well, I can't really complain right now because I'm feeling really good.  I'm still struggling with my energy levels and being tired a lot but what's new?  I have still been having lymphedema problems in my left hand and forearm that have been lingering for about 3 weeks now.  We have tried numerous compression sleeves and gloves, but to my dismay these have all failed.  It is quite frustrating to be quite honest.  I just want it to go away all together, but I guess this is going to be an issue that I will just have to deal with for the rest of my life.  I'm still getting treatment from one of our occupational therapists named Tammy, and she has helped me a lot.  She specializes in lymphedema and does a great job.  You know right as I started feeling sad and pouting about my arm the other day,  I heard a great story on Air One.  There was a man born without any limbs that decided to go skydiving.  They were talking about how incredible this man is and how he makes the best of his situation.  This is all I needed at that moment to not only put me in my place but to again make me realize that my ailments could always be worse.  There are some terribly sad medical stories out there that make me realize that my medical problems seem like nothing compared to those.  I should be thankful always.  God is good in all situations.

I have now completed 5 radiation treatments and have 25 to go.  I will finish in 5 weeks from today.  These first 5 treatments have gone by really quickly and don't seem to have any effects on me so far.  I'm so thankful for this.  Radiation seems like nothing compared to chemo.  I can handle this stuff.  I had a follow-up with Dr. Stafford, the radiologist, today after my treatment.  He just basically checked to see how I was doing so far, and there wasn't anything exciting to report.  We just joked around and laughed a little and then I headed back to work.  I will meet with him once a week so he can check on me.  The staff at Harrington has been great throughout all my time there, and they make me feel good each time I go.  Again, this has been a blessing.  I thank God for them.

To update you on my hair growth, I look like a little spring chick with my fuzzy head.  It is really soft to touch and seems to be growing each day.  Some of it is light colored and soft while the rest of it seems more like my old hair that was brown and thick.  I heard that a lot of times it come back initially like baby hair and is curly.  We will just have to wait and see.  I'm just ready to have any hair at this point in time.  To my dismay, my eyelashes and eyebrows are still falling out here and there.  I don't have many of these left.  I thought I had done well with keeping these up until the end of chemo, but then God said "think again" and they started coming loose.  This was a cruel joke, but I can laugh about it.  I never thought I would have to paint my eyebrows on my head.  Usually, I'm plucking them to make them not as bushy and now I would die to have those back.  I will never complain about thick eyebrows again Lord!  Also, I have decided that I will continue to place mascara on my eye lashes regardless of the fact that there is only one lash left on the bottom of each eye.  Hey, I don't want that lash to feel left out!  LOL!  I always say that cancer is the gift that keeps giving, and frankly I'm tired of receiving those gifts.  I'm not compaining.  I'm just saying (one of my new mottos).  You just have to laugh about these things because if not you might get down on yourself now and then.  This just a phase and my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows will grow back soon enough.  No biggie.

Something amazing happened yesterday.  It would have been my Grandmother Lois' 99th birthday.  She passed in 2001 at the age of 88.  This was my dad's mother, and I still miss her today.  She was an amazing women of faith and loved her family dearly.  I was up early on Sunday morning before Bren and Chris woke up.  I went in the living room to do my daily devotional.  I have been reading in the New Testament and had just started 2 Timothy 1.  I was reading the chapter and got to verse 5 which says, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also".  How awesome was this.  It totally put a smile on my face.  I had already been thinking about my grandmother from the time I woke up and then by God's divine intervention I read that verse on her birthday. 

Thank you God for that sweet gift yesterday and for my wonderful grandmother that I know is up there in heaven with you celebrating eternal birthdays.  Thank you for the great faith you gave her and for the great Christian example and influence she was to each of us.  We thank you for her many years with us and look forward to seeing her and our other family members that have gone on before us (Uncle Gene, Aunt CD, and many more).  I am so blessed to have been raised in the family that I have.  You have provided financially for all of us through the years and taken care of all of our needs.  You have given me Godly greatgrandparents, grandparents, and parents.  I not only want to honor them by living for you like they did, but I want to honor you God for such a wonderful blessing in my life.  I praise you for feeling good and for radiation going so smoothly.  Thank you for continuing to work in my life in so many ways even though I don't deserve it sometimes.  You are always faithful and true.  Thank you for loving me so much as your child and for all the little things you do daily for me.  You are an awesome God and I love you!  Amen.

Don't forget Mother's Day is this weekend.  If you have been blessed with a wonderful mother like I have let her know because tomorrow is never promised to us.  Live each day if it were your last without any regrets.  Love each of y'all and thanks for the continued support.  Shay
 
You know there are times in your life that you feel that getting on your knees and praising our wonderful God (in my closet that is) is not only needed but very appropriate.  Today we are celebrating a milestone in my fight to beat this cancer.  I finished chemo only with God's help.  God is good and has carried me through the last 6 months of chemo and certainly through some of the hardest times in my life.  Again, I'm going to be completely honest when I talk about this.  The first four rounds not only challenged me physically and emotionally, but it tested my faith severely.  I questioned God at times, and I was downright mad at him.  After the first chemo and four day hospitalization, I didn't start off on the right foot with this chemo crap.  I hated every minute of the first two months of chemo.  The fourth round of the adriamyacin (red devil) and cytoxan took me down for the count.  It was sooooo hard.  I have never felt that miserable in my life.  There were several times during those two weeks after that I sat in my bathroom at home by myself and pleaded with God for mercy.  I thought several times that I would rather be in heaven than to feel as bad as I felt.  I never want to feel that way again.  I read in my devotional book today that trust comes natural to us during times in our life that things go smoothly, but it is in hard times that we have a hard time trusting God fully.  I understand that firsthand.  I felt like I pleaded so many times for just an inkling of relief to give me the strength to continue.  I felt like I didn't get that when I wanted.  In these moments, we are forced to decide whether we want to draw closer to him or continue down the road going further from him.  These are the moments that define us as Christians when we choose to allow God to work out HIS plan (not ours) in HIS timing.  I understand more now and realize that God used these moments in my life to break down some of my walls and to make me realize how much I need him every moment.  He is faithful always and always wants what is best for us if we will just live for him.  I have decided fully that I will trust God even in the storms because he ultimately has a bigger plan for my life than to just live like I had been living.  He has turned my eyes to him through this journey, and I praise him for this so much.  I will always be thankful for cancer.  I know this sounds crazy, but without it I don't know where I would be.  I wouldn't know God like I do now.  I've also learned that if I focus on thanking him as often as possible for anything and everything, I focus way less on complaining about things.  Remember your bad situations could always be worse, so thank God often.  Remember to pray often too.  I don't sleep as well as I used to, so I find my mind wondering at night about many things.  I stop and try to remember not to worry about things, so I just start praying instead.  I'm so not in control so why worry about things anyway.  God has this and always will.  Well, I'm on to radiation now.  I meet with Dr. Stafford, my radiological oncologist, on Friday to get the plan.  I hope to start radiation next week.  I want to again thank each of you for all the support, e-mails, texts, cards, meals, calls, and words of encouragement you have given me.  It has not only helped me take another step in this battle when I felt like I couldn't go on, but it makes me realize again how truly blessed I am.  Today my sweet, sweet friends, family, and co-workers from all over the hospital came by at the end of my chemo for a surprise party.  It was awesome.  My hosptial room was jam packed, and I loved every minute.  It brought a smile to my face and warmed my spirits.  They brought me cake, a fruit basket, several gifts, cards, party hats, noise makers, balloons, and lots of cheer.  I couldn't ask for more.  I want to say a special thank you to my good friend Carey, the chemo nurse, that took amazing care of me during the last six months.  She is an awesome nurse, and I will truly miss seeing her smiling face and talking and laughing with her.  I thank God for her and all the nurses and doctors who God allowed to enter my life during these hard times.  They are such a blessing.  Well, I better hit the hay now after a great day.  I hope I can go to bed after so much excitement today.  Love y'all and please pray for my upcoming radiation that it will go smoothly and quickly and be effective in never allowing the cancer to come back.  Let's kick cancer's butt! 

My prayer tonight:
Thank you God for loving me and still wanting to be my father at times when I didn't deserve it.  Thank you for forgiveness when I haven't trusted you fully, complained too much, or acted like a Christian should.  For this I am truly sorry, but I'm thankful for the promise of forgiveness of these sins.  Also, thank you for renewed hope and faith that you've given me that reminds me that you've already won this battle for me and that you are taking care of every need that I have.  You've helped me through so much already with the chemo, and I pray for continued strength and guidance as I begin the radiation treatments soon.  God you are AWESOME! Amen.  Shayla
 
Well, I have now finished my 10th chemo yesterday afternoon.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm not feeling well.  The past 2-3 weeks have been really hard with my energy levels being in the pot.  I can hardly even workout.  I'm so weak at times that when I walk up the stairs at work my legs feel like they may give out on me.  Currently, I am coughing, have no voice, am sneezing, have a bunch of drainage in my throat, and have burning in my chest when I cough or breath.  I had gone to my oncologist yesterday and saw his nurse practitioner, Donna.  I told her I felt run down and that I might be getting sick, and even with my white blood cell counts and neutrophils being at critical levels she didn't seem concerned.  She said I only have 3 more chemo treatments left and to just try to push through to the end.  Then, all day yesterday including at chemo in the afternoon I felt like crap.  I didn't sleep well last night and was up from about 2 am to 5:30 am.  Then, I tried to go to work all day, but I ended up leaving at lunch and taking the afternoon off.  I tried to rest some this afternoon but with the drainage and coughing, I was only able to sleep about 45 mins.  I called to Dr. Pruitt's office today and his nurse called me back.  I told her I was feeling worse than yesterday, but she said they think it is viral and that Dr. Pruitt doesn't like to use antibiotics on chemo patients if at all possible even if it was bacterial.  I told her that Brenley and Chris have been sick and are getting past it finally with antibiotics, but she said just to take over-the-counter meds for my symptoms.  If it gets worse in the next few days, I can call them back.  I'm kinda concerned because I feel like I have an upper respiratory infection and this usually turns into bronchitis when I'm not taking chemo.  I end up trying to fight this for weeks with a good immune system, so I'm not sure how long I'm going to have to deal with this with a terrible immune system.  I hope it doesn't turn into something bad like pneumonia.  I had been blessed throughout chemo because God has protected me several times when people around me have been sick by not letting me get what they had.  I thank God for this.  I'm praying that he will protect me and give me the strength to fight this and make it these last few weeks through the end of my chemo treatments.  Then, my body can rest a little.  I feel like a marathon runner that has made it to the last few miles of my run and I'm hitting the wall.  I know I can make it to the finish line and I want to sprint it out, but sometimes you just have to pace yourself to make it.  I've pushed hard throughout this journey in the past 6 months, and my body has had it.  It is tired and worn down.  I've tried to work full weeks the whole time, but I think I may have to rest a little more and go home early some days in the next few weeks.  I'm kinda hard-headed when it comes to these things.  I want to do my job well and I want to be a good mom and wife when I get home, but sometimes your body tells you to slow down.  Mine is screaming at me.  Please pray that I will get better so I can finish my chemo and work like I need to while feeling good.

Let's see.  I'm trying to think what I wrote about the last time I did a blog.  I had an ultrasound of my ovaries recently just to check on them and make sure they looked ok.  They appear normal size and the ultrasound tech didn't see any signs of growths or irregular places.  I then met with my gynecologist, Dr. Appel, to talk about my hysterectomy.  You know this is a touchy subject with me and makes me emotional often.  We are so blessed to have Brenley and thank God for her life, but we had been trying to get pregnant right when I found out I had the breast cancer.  Luckily, we didn't get pregnant because I would have been worried sick being pregnant and needing to do the mastectomies and chemo.  Now, unfortunately the chemo treatments usually send women into early menopause and make them sterile.  There is a small possibility that I could still ovulate after all this is over, but I have to be on Tamoxifen or Anastrozole for 5 yrs after chemo. This means I would have to wait until after this time to even try to get pregnant again.  The problem with that is that I would be 38 yrs old, and all the doctors said that they want me to have my ovaries out by age 35 yrs old.  Even if I didn't get them out by 35 and waited, I would probably have a hard time even getting pregnant.  My cancer has a hormone component to it, so having my ovaries in makes me nervous.  I have a higher risk of ovarian cancer too, so we decided that going through with the complete hysterectomy is the right choice.  The plan is possibly on July 10th, I will have my second breast reconstruction with Dr. Proffer combined with my complete laproscopic hysterectomy with Dr. Appel.  I decided to do this because then I only have one time of being under anesthesia (which makes me really sick), one recovery, and one time off from work.  I know this isn't going to be easy to combine these two surgeries as far as recovery goes, but then I will only have one surgery left to do this year instead of two.  Anyway, soon I will have my first appointment with the radiological oncologist, Dr. Stafford, to discuss my upcoming radiation treatments.  I want to get those started as soon as possible after my chemo to get them over with and let my skin heal before my reconstruction surgery.  I heard the radiation is nothing compared to the chemo.  I will do radiation for 5-6 weeks and for 5 days a week.  The initial visit with him will last about 1 1/2 hours because they will place small tatoos on my skin to mark the area of radiation and then set up everything on the machines for each treatment.  Then, each session will only be about 15 mins Monday thru Friday.  I didn't want to have to do radiation, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  I don't want this crap coming back.  I'm kicking it to the curb.  Well, I'm about ready to try to go to bed because I have a continuing education course all day tomorrow to go to here in Amarillo.  Oh what fun!  I pray that each of you are doing well and thanks again for taking interest in reading my blogs and keeping up with me.  That means a lot to me.  God bless and I love y'all.  Shay