By: Andy Gao
It’s February 2021 inside the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and 70-year-old Sheri Shaw-James is waiting for cancer testing. Little did she know, she had Stage 3 cancer and that her oncologists would walk her down the aisle at her wedding two years later.
In January 2023, her boyfriend Bill James would propose to Shaw-James. Shaw-James immediately knew that she wanted her doctors, Emma B. Holliday and Van Karlyle Morris, at her wedding and for them to walk her down the aisle.
Shaw-James and James met online in 2020. However, after Shaw-James received her cancer diagnosis, she decided to break up with James so “he would be free to do all the things he wanted to do and move on with his life.” (The Washington Post, 2023)
James had other ideas. He decided that he wanted to support Shaw-James, so they drove down to Houston together. Every morning, James would drop off Shaw-James at the hospital for treatment and pick her up outside in the evening. Although Covid-19 rules prevented him from going inside the hospital, he never left the parking lot and stayed in his car for hours.
When Shaw-James was declared Cancer free in June 2021, James went out and brought back a dozen of red roses for the doctors. “I showed my appreciation by giving her a dozen roses... And I hugged her and whispered in her ear, 'You saved my girl.” Bill James told Emma B. Holliday. (CBS News, 2023)
Two years later, the couple got engaged and began to plan their wedding. She knew that her doctors had to be there on the big day. “Without them and their hard work, there might not have been a wedding to celebrate. ”Sheri Shaw-James stated. (The Washington Post, 2023)
Her doctors were shocked at her request. They had never been asked to participate in a patient’s wedding, let alone be invited to walk them down the aisle.
On June 11, Shaw-James walked with Morris and Holliday down the aisle so she could get married. “To see her through the darkest challenge she may have faced, then come to her wedding was definitely a high point,” Morris stated. (The Washington Post, 2023)
This moment was truly special for everyone who attended. “I’ll feel a special connection with the people who gave me a second chance for the rest of my life,” Shaw-James stated. (The Washington Post, 2023)