By: Jessica Sun
Sheri Shaw-James was diagnosed with cancer — a squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum in February 2021. Shaw-James was a 70 year old retired high-risk obstetrics nurse.
She was in a relationship with Bill James. They met when they were online. ”I wasn’t necessarily looking for romance,” said Shaw-James, who had been twice divorced. “But of all the gentlemen I’d met, Bill seemed like the one who would be my friend for the rest of my life. I always felt comfortable with him.” But after Shaw-James found out she had cancer, she decided to break up with James so he could be free instead of always staying home and taking care of her. “I knew that he really wanted to travel, and I didn’t want him to be stuck dealing with my cancer,” she said. “I didn’t think that would be fair to him.”
But James didn’t want to leave her. Soon Shaw-James had to go to the hospital, so James took her there. “Within 48 hours, they’d figured out I had Stage 3 cancer and they’d developed a treatment plan,” she said. “The entire team jumped in to help, and I jumped with them.” James wasn’t allowed into the hospital because of Covid-19. “I’d drop her off every morning and pick her up every night at 7 or 8,” James said. “Sheri was exhausted, but she was also determined. That’s when I really fell in love with her. She was so incredibly courageous and wouldn’t give up.”
Shaw-James had two amazing oncologists: Emma B. Holliday and Van Karlyle Morris. They both were very close with Shaw-James. They all talked and talked to each other all day. Soon, Shaw-James and James were preparing wedding plans. Shaw-James wanted her doctors to be there too, so she invited Morris and Holliday.
“When she asked me, I definitely teared up,” Holliday said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been invited to participate in a patient’s wedding.” It was also Morris' first time going to the wedding of a patient. “We get a lot of hard questions as oncologists, but this was probably the easiest one to answer,” he said. So they bought their tickets and flew to North Carolina the day before the wedding.
On June 11, Shaw-James had Morris on her right and Holliday on her left as the trio walked together down the aisle. Finally, Shaw-James and Mill James got married.