Cancer Patient Goes Gets Married With Her Cancer Doctors Walking Her Down The Aisle
By: Benjamin He
So marrying late is a bit of a topic among the internet. It’s kind of controversial for some people, some being quite sensitive about it while others discourage it. There’s been stacks of paper spilled over it, thousands of screams thrown at other people about it, and tons of articles, like this one, documenting it.
Sheri Shaw-James isn’t scared of that, however. And it got even better when she was walked down the aisle by her cancer doctors in her wedding.
Ms. Shaw-James was diagnosed in February 2021 with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum, a rare malignancy.
Shaw-James, 70, was in a relationship with Bill James, 77. They met online in 2020, and they started dating a month later.
“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.”
After her cancer diagnosis, Shaw-James eventually decided to break up with Bill James, in a selfless act for him to “Move on with his life.”
But when Shaw-James told him the news, telling him that there would be no hard feelings, James responded that he wasn’t going to leave her.
“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.”
Afterwards, Ms. Shaw-James found out she had rectal bleeding, and after the two surfed the internet for treatment options, they settled on trying the University of Texas MD Anderson Care Center in Houston. The pair stuffed enough clothes to last them for a few months into the car, then drove the 1,200 miles to Houston.
After checking into the Ballard House, a free family housing complex for people undergoing long-term medical treatment, Shaw-James started undergoing testing the next day.
In just 48 hours, they’d not only figure out that Shaw-James had Stage-Three cancer, but they also developed a treatment plan.
“The entire team jumped in to help, and I jumped with them.” says Shaw-James.
During Shaw-James’s stay at the hospital, she got to know some of her doctors. The first was Emma B. Holliday, who had worked at the hospital since 2012.
“Dr. Holliday shared stories about her four children, and I shared stories about my five grandchildren,” Shaw-James said. “We bonded through that and my trust in her continued to build.”
The same thing happened with Ms. Shaw-James’s other doctor, Van Karlyle Morris, who had worked at the hospital since 2011.
A couple months later, when Ms. Shaw-James had her last radiation treatment, Shaw-James rang a traditional hospital bell while Bill James went out to get flowers.
After she was announced cured at her next appointment, James proposed to her in January of 2023. She accepted.
As they made wedding plans, she said she knew she wanted her doctors to be there with her on the big day. Although she had family members who could have walked her down the aisle, there was never any question that she would ask her two doctors to do it.
“Without them and their hard work, there might not have been a wedding to celebrate,” she said. “I am here today because of God and because of them.”
Morris and Holliday said they were delighted by their patient’s request.
“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.”
On June 11, Shaw-James had Morris on her right and Holliday on her left as the trio walked together down the aisle so Shaw-James could wed James.
“It took a lot to reach this moment, but I didn’t do it alone,” said Shaw-James later. “I’ll feel a special connection with the people who gave me a second chance for the rest of my life.”