While on a wonderful tour of Ireland & Scotland, I got some heartbreaking news; the death of a longtime friend, who was also the wife of a longtime friend. I had known Debbie Stuart Shaffner since I was 15. I’ve known her husband Billy since I was 12.
Although I truly felt them to be among my favorite friends, I was only seeing them about once a year.
In the last two years I’ve seen them more often because of our mutual participation in the New River Valley Sheep & Goat Club. At our club’s 2014 breeders sale last year I had an opportunity
to chat with them. I could tell Debbie was feeling poorly, but you’d never know it because she was wearing her ever-present smile. (I’m not sure I would have ever recognize Debbie if I ever saw her without a big smile. Knowing the difficulties she had faced during her life, while maintaining such a positive outlook on life, I asked her if she would write about her struggles, while maintaining her faith and joy, to be used as a blog on my website.
She agreed, and a couple of months later I received something from her. She told me to revise it anyway I wanted to, but like Debbie, what she wrote was perfect. I wanted to wait and use it a special time. This blog is my way of thanking God that he blessed my life with Debbie Stuart Shaffner.
In Debbie’s words…
Life!!! What a roller-coaster ride. It is a ride worth taking. You have to go to the bottom to really appreciate the highs of the ride of life. My life has been like that. Normal life in a small town, lots of love from family and friends, married right out of high school, by the next year we were already on the bottom side. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin ’s disease. Too young to really understand what it really was all about. The treatment, sickness, surgeries, weight loss, fear & loss of independence. God saw me through it all. The healing came and life moved along. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, five years later a handsome baby boy. We were on the high side again but not for long. Thyroid Cancer. Treatments. Move ahead a few more years. Breast cancer. More surgery, treatment, fear, anxiety, dealing with being disfigured, weakness. Recovery!! Before you know it, here we go again. My heart starts acting up. During a doctor visit it was bad news and kept getting worse each time. The doctor left the room and we started laughing before we cried. I had to have open-heart surgery, pacemaker, lots of medicine, all those things that go with a bad heart. In among the cancers I had to have my appendix out, and colon surgery. My body looks like “Zorro” has got hold of it. The agony, anxiety, worry I’ve put my family through. I have a husband, daughter, son, grandchildren, in-laws, sisters and brother that have stuck by me. My rocks! My husband has been there to see & hear me. It is hard to watch what I’ve done to them. Through it all, GOD has Blessed me so much. Words cannot describe it. He has brought me through everything by giving me strength to face tomorrow and even look forward to it. Life is good. The Peace, Joy & Love that comes when you are at your lowest points. Each time you find growth spiritually. You cannot understand or explain sickness but you come out a better person, on top of the roller-coaster ride of life.

I know that everyone that ever knew Debbie will miss her tremendously. The family suggested donations be sent to the Fries Fire Departmentat P.O. Box 9, Fries, Virginia 24330 . I know I’m sending them my donation in memory of Debbie and hope you will too. I challenge us to donate $1000 in honor of her.
Please take some time to add a comment in memory of Debbie Stuart Shaffner, or tell your favorite Debbie story.

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About Jerry Haynes

OK, where do I start. I was born…., no that line has already been taken.Call me…, oops so has that one. Well, I won’t attempt to spout musical prose, and just be myself. I grew up in the small cotton mill town of Fries, VA. My parents were hardworking members of the middle class. They never earned more than a little over minimum wage, but I can never remember lacking for anything. After graduating from Fries High School in 1969, I started to VA Tech. After two years of partying (1st), going to movies (2nd), and studying, well, much further down the list, VA Tech decided I need a two year break to get my priorities straight. With a number 8 in the draft lottery, I knew that even if the Hokies didn’t want me, Uncle Sam did. I joined the US Navy. I got my priorities straight. I’m proud to be a Viet Nam veteran, but feel guilty I never got deployed. I graduated from Tech in 1977 with a BS in Civil Engineering. For the next 35 years I would work in both the private and public sectors. My first job took me to Tazewell County, Virginia where I soon joined the Jaycees. This ignited my passion for individual development. This passion still burns today.

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Johnny Dickson
Johnny Dickson
8 years ago

Debbie was such a wonderful person,there is no way to put into words how much of a insperation she was. Ive been in this family for 36 years .I married Debbie’s baby sister Karen and Debbie has been there for us always putting everyone before herself.I never one time heard her say Why ME ? or Im sick she was always positive ! Debbie we love you and miss you so much !! we will see you again Love Johnny

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