Shumaker Roofing Company has been a long time supporter of breast cancer awareness. The following article was written by two Catoctin High School students whose lives were directly impacted by breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Survivor Interview
Written by: Meghan & Ines of Catoctin High School in Frederick County, Maryland
Cancer is no joke, it is not something to be taken with a grain of salt. Once you hear that you or a loved one has Cancer, your world will be forever changed. Everyone should support the diagnosed, honor the taken, and most importantly respect and admire the survivors. Recently I met Sherry Wilhide, current Emmitsburg resident who has fought and defeated a battle of Breast Cancer, and I had the remarkable opportunity of sitting down with her and discussing her time of struggle.
After a teary eyed interview with Sherry, I really opened my eyes to how precious life really is. Everyday is truly a blessing and you cannot take anything for granted. Sherry is a beautiful, strong and determined woman who would obviously do anything to see her children and grandchildren smile. She told us through tears that, her grandson told her “I realized what you went through, I know what it’s all about”. And that is what she lives for. Her family. Other Breast Cancer survivors and family of the fallen, I want you to take something away from this interview. I want you to be able to look at life in a whole different way as Sherry did, and be thankful for everyday that you have.
What does it take for a person to have both courage or strength? It’s rare today to meet someone who possesses both of those qualities, but I had the honor of meeting a fantastic woman, Mrs. Willhide. Being diagnosed with breast cancer, Mrs. Willhide was determined to beat this terrible disease from day one and losing was not a option for her. Coping with cancer is no small feat. Her strength and optimism helped bring smiles to the loved ones she cared so dearly about, and likewise, throughout the entire process she was cheered on by her family and friends. She never let cancer get the best of her and sought to overcome it in any way possible.
When Mrs. Willhide was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in January of 2011 it came as a shock because she was a perfectly healthy middle aged woman who saw her doctor regularly and never had problems related to her well being. She was in the state of disbelief, thinking that cancer could not affect her since no one in her family prior to this ever had any sign of cancer. Scared and anxious of the things that awaited her, she put her health in the hands of her doctors. Prior to the entire process, she did not research much. She did listen though, to the stories of cancer survivors around her because she knew they would tell her the truth and tell her what she was to expect.
Soon after surgery Mrs. Willhide began her chemo therapy and radiation. Words cannot describe chemo therapy and the fatigue and side effects it brings. Luckily, Mrs. Willhide did not suffer from the side effects most patients incur. From February to July of 2011 Mrs. Willhide went to the Frederick regional cancer center for her chemo treatments. She endured sixteen tiresome treatments until the doctors told her she was cancer free. Mrs. Willhide talks about how difficult her treatments were, and how the first four were the most difficult. Chemo made eating dreadful. Everything tasted bland. Her taste buds were gone. The only taste in her mouth was the taste of the metal silverware she was eating with.
Mrs. Willhide also painfully experienced losing her hair. It was extremely difficult for her, as it would be for any woman. Even though the experience was anticipated, it made it no easier to live through. She often wore hats and did not enjoy wigs very much and laughs about how her granddaughter would call it ‘’man hair’’. Through it all, she embraced who she was and cancer wasn’t going to change that.
Mrs. Willhide loved seeing the smiles of her children and grandchildren and it’s what helped her get through the days that were especially difficult for her. She stayed positive and did not want to show her true emotions and feelings to others. After her final chemo treatment she was hopeful that the cancer was gone and thank God it was. Her doctors were very kind and helpful and made her aware of the many resources that would be available to her.
Whenever Mrs. Willhide needed support, she always had a group of caring people by her side to get her through this most difficult time. She didn’t want her children seeing her sick, but they nevertheless treated her very cautiously and did not let her do anything too strenuous. Her grandchildren were very interested as to what was going on with their grandma, to the point that they researched her disease and continued to talk to her about how she was doing. Mrs. Willhide says that her grandkids kids and husband helped her get through all of those difficult scenarios and were what kept her going.
Although the thought of the tumor coming back is always scary and in the back of her mind, it doesn’t stop her or slow her down one bit. She enjoys talking to other cancer-survivors, as well as those who have been recently diagnosed. She does this to reassure them that everything will be alright and just to ease the pain they feel just a little bit. Mrs. Willhide wanted to give back in some way, in recognition of those who have helped her through her ordeal, so she arranged a local dinner, advertised it,with all of the proceeds going to her treatment center and to the cancer patients fund. She sometimes feels guilty about those who have lost their battles, while she is still alive, but she is so grateful to have actually survived her terrible disease, and to now be able to help those who also face the same battle of breast cancer as well.
What would Mrs. Willhide’s advice be for a cancer patient, who is not as fortunate to have grandkids? Live for today! Just take a step back and look at things just a little differently and cherish every moment you can get with your friends and loved ones. Just appreciate the things that come each and every day because in the end everything will be okay. She speaks about how just talking to her friends helped her greatly, both those with and those without cancer. Just being positive and optimistic helps you get through the difficult days. She even talks about how Facebooking helped her too! Her Facebook support allowed her to reconnect with friends and to just talk to them about what was going on.
Mrs. Willhide now spends her days taking care of her wonderful grandchildren and enjoying every moment she gets to spend with her children and grandchildren. She is an amazing individual whose story is most inspiring and I had the pleasure of meeting her and seeing all of the great qualities she posseses, most definitely including courage and strength.