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Shay Celebrates and Reflects on Her First “Cancer Free” Birthday

birthday flowers from co-workers
Shay Hill

One year ago today I was laying in a hospital bed having a double mastectomy. I received news of breast cancer just 3 weeks before that and made the decision that best suited me. I don’t regret it and as my boyfriend says “they were killing you”. Today I celebrate my first year of being cancer free!

This last year has been such a journey for me and my family and friends. I’ve been asked a million and one times ‘how I feel’ and the answer is, I feel great and I’m alive.

There are many ways to define when that ‘birthday’ should be celebrated. Some celebrate from the day they were diagnosed, others from the day they finish treatment or the day that first scan comes back clean. For me it is the day I had the cancer removed from my body.

I look back and it seems as if it were just yesterday and at other times it seems like it’s been an eternity. It was a fast moving year, with lots of milestones along the way. I was diagnosed in February 2012, had a double mastectomy in March, two weeks later my boyfriends dad passed away from cancer (he was in hospice while I was having surgery), April I started the first of 6 rounds of chemo, July I finished chemo, August we moved to a new home, September I had my first CT scan that came back clean, November I began reconstructive surgery and then came Christmas and finally a New Year. Dang I’m tired!

My friends and family were the best (and still are). I couldn’t have asked for more support and prayers than what I received. Although I love the color pink, I don’t want my world to be defined by this; breast cancer. It is a part of me and who I am now but it is not all that I am. It was a bump in the road, one I hope I never hit again, but that possibility is always in the back of your mind. I want to look ahead to the future, not the past. I’ve learned one thing from this and that is you should always expect the unexpected.

I’ve also learned that I’m much stronger in ways that I never imagined. Wake up every day and be thankful you are here!

So on this, my 1st birthday, I want to thank God for giving me a second chance and more time with my friends and family. I love you all!

Relay for Life of Taylor County 2013

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