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At her wedding, her two oncologists walked her down the aisle

By: Kyle Xu

Life was hard for Sheri Shaw-James.

Surviving cancer, marrying in her 70s, asking her two cancer doctors to walk her down the aisle – this means she’s got optimism and some serious battle scars.

Shaw-James held a steady relationship with Bill James, 77. They had met each other online and had begun dating since 2020.

“I wasn’t looking for romance,” said Shaw-James, 70. “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 then Shaw-James was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum, a rare malignancy. Shaw-James decided to break up with James. She knew James had always wanted to travel, and didn’t want him to be stuck helping her through cancer.

“I told her, ‘No, I’m not going anywhere,’” said James. “I wanted to be there to support her through it, no matter how long it took.”

Shaw-James researched many cancer hospitals and finally arrived at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“Within 48 hours, they’d figured out I had Stage 3 cancer and they’d developed a treatment plan,” she said. James could not accompany Sheri to the clinic, because of Covid-19 rules.

“I’d drop her off every morning and pick her up every night at 7 or 8,” said James. “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.”

Soon Shaw-James became close with her radiation oncologist, Emma B. Holliday. Before long, they were chatting about their grandchildren and children as their friendship swelled.

Her other oncologist, Van Karlyle Morris, bonded over Shaw-James history as an adopted child. Morris became excited for her search for her biological family.

At her last appointment in June 2021, Shaw-James was finally cancer-free. James proposed to her in January of the next year.

“How could I say no? He’d been by my side every minute.” said Shaw-James.

While they planned out their wedding, Shaw-James knew she must invite her doctors. On June 11, Shaw-James had Morris on her right, Holliday on her left, as they walked together down the aisle so Shaw-James could wed James.

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