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Bride, a Cancer Survivor, Invites Doctors to Walk Her Down the Aisle After Helping Save Her Life

By: Teresa Gong

Sheri Shaw-James, a 70-year-old retired high-risk obstetrics nurse, found love with Bill James, 77, after meeting online in 2020. However, shortly after their relationship began, Shaw-James was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum. Fearing that her cancer might burden James, she considered breaking up with him. But James was determined to support her through her journey, and they decided to face her cancer together.

“I knew that he really wanted to travel, and I didn’t want him to be stuck dealing with my cancer,” Shaw-James said. “I didn’t think that would be fair to him.” She let him know and told him there would be no hard feelings.

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

Shaw-James sought treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and James accompanied her throughout the journey. Despite Covid-19 restrictions that prevented him from attending her treatments, he remained by her side and provided unwavering support. During her treatment, Shaw-James developed a close friendship with her oncologists, Emma B. Holliday and Van Karlyle Morris, who provided not only medical care but also emotional support and encouragement.

After Shaw-James successfully completed her treatment and was declared cancer-free, James proposed to her. Knowing the pivotal role her doctors played in her recovery, Shaw-James asked them to walk her down the aisle at their wedding. They gladly accepted the invitation and attended the wedding in North Carolina.

At the wedding, Shaw-James expressed gratitude for her doctors and the team at MD Anderson Cancer Center for giving her a second chance at life. She believes that she will always share a special connection with the people who helped her overcome her battle with cancer.

“Walking through that garden was one of the most moving days of my life,” said Shaw-James, who now lives with James in Seven Springs, N.C., about an hour’s drive from Raleigh. “It was a huge honor that they agreed to be with me and share in my happiness,” she said.

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