SHELBYVILLE, IL – Paula Vail loves football. It is one of her favorite sports. She is also a huge Shelbyville Rams supporter and a breast cancer survivor. When asked if she would participate in the support group of the Shelbyville Rams’ Tackle Breast Cancer football game, she leaped at the opportunity.
“It’s my 10th anniversary of surviving breast cancer, and I wanted to help remind women to get your mammogram,” HSHS Good Shepherd L.P.N. Vail said. “That pink ribbon brings out the nurse in me and combines two of my favorite things – saving lives and football.”
Ten years ago, Vail noticed what felt like a pulled muscle in her chest. She wrote that off to something that had happened because of her job while lifting patients at Shelby Memorial Hospital (SMH).
But that night when she arrived home, her miniature dachshund jumped up to greet her and landed on a spot on her left chest that sent sharp stabs of pain through her body and tears to her eyes. Immediately, she did a self-examination and was shocked to find a lump. As a nurse, she knew that most lumps are asymptomatic and painless, so she continued to believe it couldn’t be cancer.
She scheduled a mammogram at SMH and an appointment with her physician. A mammogram and a sonogram revealed two lumps in her left breast. Her provider consulted a surgeon on the same day to schedule a biopsy.
The biopsy confirmed breast cancer. Thankfully, it had not spread.
The cancer was treated with a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation which left her ill. Vail said, “I lost my hair, my strength on the days following chemo and my sense of taste was very strange. Everything had a tinny flavor. I used a plastic flatware to avoid that taste.”
“I was forced to take a six-month leave from work, and it was a roller coaster of ups and downs. But ten years later, I am still here. I thank God for my mammogram and seeking help when I did.
She said, “Don’t hesitate to get your annual mammogram. When I think back to what I have seen, enjoyed and what I would have missed had it not been for that test, it takes my breath away. I would have missed out on living with my daughter and grandson. I wouldn’t have gotten to know him as I do now. He brings me such great joy. I also would have missed seeing my nephew marry.”
She continued, “My journey with breast cancer has made me more empathetic with patients. I thank God I can continue doing what I love. I would have missed serving as a nurse which is my passion.”
Please join Paula, colleagues from HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital and Shelbyville High School for the annual Tackle Breast Cancer football game on Friday, October 5 at 7 p.m. The football team will don pink socks for breast cancer awareness, and cheerleaders will toss pink footballs. The hospital will have a tent with information on mammograms, breast cancer and the Vicky Wagner Breast Cancer Assistance Fund. For more information about the game, please visit
About HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital
Since its inception in 1916, HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville (GSS) has been dedicated to excellence in healthcare for those living and visiting their communities. GSS has accomplished this by providing comprehensive health services and meeting the needs of patients served through their compassionate care, business integrity and community responsibility. GSS provides a 24/7 emergency department that is fully staffed by physicians and highly-trained nurses, and also features inpatient and outpatient services, including a 24-hour laboratory and an imaging department that meets today’s highest standards for diagnostic imaging technology. GSS has an advanced surgery department and an acute inpatient care unit. Dedicated to being a hometown hospital, GSS’ home health and rehabilitation departments are committed to excellence with a team of professional nurses and therapists providing a variety of medical services and rehabilitative therapies, all designed to help patients heal in their own environment. The group of visiting specialists in the outpatient clinic works closely with GSS to help keep the healthcare services local even if a specialized procedure or exam is required. GSS strives to be the first choice for the community’s healthcare needs. For more information about HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital, visit   
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay).  HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit

Media Contact

Andrew Dilbeck

HSHS Illinois
Office: 217-464-5610

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