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Cancer-Free Patient Walks Down The Aisle With Her Oncologists

By: Qinwei Wu

The happiest day of Sheri Shaw-James’ life was on June 11, 2023, her wedding day. Even though she was getting married in her 70s, she walked down the aisle with her two oncologists by her side, smiling.

About a year and a half ago, in February 2021, Sheri Shaw-James was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum, a rare malignancy. She had just gotten into a new relationship with Bill James, 77, and felt the need to break up with him, not wanting to hold James back from his dreams of traveling.

“I knew that he really wanted to travel, and I didn’t want him to be stuck dealing with my cancer”, she said. James refused to break up with her, and decided to support her through it, no matter how long it took.

Shaw-James started researching for cancer hospitals around the country, and found the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. They packed their bags and headed 1,200 miles to Houston.

“Within 48 hours, they’d figured out I had Stage 3 cancer and they’d developed a treatment plan”, Shaw-James said. During the days she was in the hospital, she received radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

On the especially long days, she would share stories with her radiation oncologist, Emma B. Holliday. She created a similar friendship with her other oncologist, Van Karlyle Morris.

Finally, in June 2021, Shaw-James was declared cancer-free. In January 2023, James proposed to Shaw-James, and of course, Shaw-James accepted it. “How could I say no? He’d been by my side every minute”, Shaw-James said.

While planning the wedding, she knew she wanted her oncologists who helped her conquer her cancer to be there on her big day. Holliday and Morris were delighted to be invited to her wedding, let alone walking her down the aisle.

“It was such an emotional moment, to see the smile on Sheri’s face as we were walking up the aisle with her,”Morris said.

Thus, Sheri Shaw-James and Bill James wed on June 11, and the people who gave her a second chance in life were there to witness it all.

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