Shelly, wearing her prize belt buckle, poses here with her horse Reggie
I was in the middle of Central PA Rodeo season in August 2004 when a routine mammogram found my breast cancer. My horse Reggie was winning a year-end award and I didn’t want to miss the chance to get the belt buckle prize because of surgery. Since my doctor is a horseman too he understood and I was able to delay the surgery until after the rodeo season was complete. Winning that series really helped me to move forward and face the breast cancer treatment.
My mother also survived breast cancer twice and she opted for a mastectomy both times. That seemed like a better option for me too. I chose not to have reconstructive surgery. I didn’t want to go through additional surgeries and I don’t regret it for a moment. I wear a prosthetic and I’m comfortable with my personal choice.
As part of my therapy after surgery, I brushed Reggie a lot. That was great arm-stretching exercise, and he was very sympathetic during my recovery.
About five years later I decided it was time for me to give back to the breast cancer community. After a little research online I saw that the PBCC has opportunities for grassroots partners to create their own events and I thought that fit right in with what I wanted to do. I created a barrel race called Ride 4 Life. In rodeo, only women compete in barrel racing but in an open barrel race anyone can participate. Right now I’m planning the 4th annual Ride 4 Life show which will be at the Shale Knoll Arena in Annville on April 26th. A portion of each competitor’s entrance fee goes to the PBCC, and sponsorship funding is divided evenly between the show costs and donations to the PBCC. For more information: www.midatlanticspeedhorse.com.
My husband Kenny was extremely supportive in every aspect of my journey and that really helped. My mom and my sister were very helpful right after my surgery and during chemo.
People tell you you’re brave and strong when you’re going through breast cancer treatment but really you don’t think about that. You just grit your teeth and go.