None of us can ever really predict what may lie ahead in our lives. At any turn, just beyond the next rise, we could find a smooth and even road or a narrow and rocky climb. Because we understand that each person is on her own journey and every traveler has his own challenges, we never want to be a burden to others. We try to prepare so that, if the path does become difficult, we’re able to remain self-reliant as we navigate the perils and pitfalls.
I’ve known Cheryl Shoemaker for nearly fifty years. Over the decades, I’ve watched her become a gentle and generous spirit who knows only friends. Time and again, she embraces those who would be viewed as adversaries by anyone else. She’s shown me that seeing the best in people brings out the best in them. Cheryl is also uncommonly independent. From the day when she first struck out on her own, her goal has always been to take care of herself financially. She’s worked hard to make that happen, developing the job skills necessary to earn a good living and pay her own way.
In 2014, she was diagnosed with Stage II lung cancer and Stage III colon cancer. Ferocious illness was met with ferocious treatment. She underwent a left lung lobectomy, in December of that year, and a colon resection, the next January. Following surgery, she endured four chemotherapy sessions for the lung cancer and another twelve for the colon cancer. Months of treatment put Cheryl into remission but left her with peripheral neuropathy, perpetual fatigue, and piles of medical bills.
The hospitalizations, surgeries, chemotherapy, diagnostic radiology, and many visits with the wonderful providers at Arizona Oncology saved her life but came with a steep price tag. Cheryl is fortunate to have insurance but her annual deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses have reached nearly $4,000, every year since 2014.
Then, with only two years to go before reaching her critical five-year cancer-free milestone, another tumor appeared—this time, in her right lung. In December 2017, surgery was again performed. The follow-up treatment will be costly and, in addition to the recurrence of cancer, she was diagnosed with a supraumbilical incisional hernia. This condition, caused by her 2015 colon resection, has been developing slowly over time and will require further surgery in the coming days.
How You Can Help
For the first time in her ongoing struggle, Cheryl has reached out, with humility, to admit that she is under extraordinary financial pressure and to ask for help. She hopes to raise $20,000 to cover her annual medical expenses from 2014 through the end of 2018. Any donation to this campaign, no matter the amount, would mean the world not only to her but to all of us who love her and so desperately want her to continue her journey in this life.