Location: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Age: One should never trust a woman who tells her real age
Marital Status: Married
Education: BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology, San Diego State University, MA in Psychology, Sierra University
The experience reshuffled Sherry’s priorities–fast. She quit an emotionally unrewarding career, reassessed her relationships and proposed to her boyfriend. “Life has always been finite,” she says, “but once you’ve actually experienced that kind of scare, you realize it really is only today. I was busy achieving, raising children, striving to get to the age I am now. What did I think? Nirvana was going to happen?”
Clearly, having cancer has changed you dramatically.
It really did. People kept saying to me, ‘cancer is a gift.’ I used to laugh, ‘well, you know, I still prefer jewelry and great travel.’ It taught me that life is a choice. I’ve put away my cancer jewelry–pink ribbons and the like—at this point. Now I just wear this Brighton bracelet every day. It says: Live the life you love.
That’s a wonderful quote.
Yes. I never take it off. It’s like an ID bracelet for me.
Parenting has been an important part of your life. Your daughter won the “Heart of the Company” award at Digitas in Boston. I’m sure that has something to do with you.
I’m very proud of her and I’m proud of her passion for life. But I’ve always said to my children, your accomplishments are your own. Your struggles and faults are mine to help you transform. But what you do with yourself in the world is to your credit.
Where did you meet your husband?
At a Super Bowl party in 2001. He was explaining how hard it had been to get health insurance for his assistant, who happened to be gay, and the guy’s partner. I said, ‘So you arranged health care for him? I don’t mean to be rude, but that had to cost a fair amount of money.’ And Michael said, ‘Yeah, but it’s the right thing to do.’ I remember thinking, there’s a person who puts his money where his mouth is.
He sounds like a special person.
When I got cancer, I remember him saying: ‘We have breast cancer and we are going to fix it.’ And I said, ‘If you’ll still have me and we get through this, will you marry me?’ And so on April 25, 2009 we got married on an ocean terrace in Laguna Beach surrounded by all the people we love.
Tell me about your style.
When I was young and teaching I dressed conservative, practical. No high heels. And that was it until I met my husband nine years ago, who looked at me and said beautiful women should always wear high heels and drink martinis and so I took him up on that. And I love it.
What’s your favorite drink?
Champagne, Domain Chandon Blanc de Noirs and it’s probably because I have such good memories about the very first time I treated myself to a bottle of champagne that wasn’t $5.99.
Do you have a passion project?
I’m working with Sacred Heart Hospital because I’m passionate about improving care for women. I don’t care what cancer you have, when you walk in the door I want somebody to shake your hand and say I’m a survivor.
Who inspires you?
If you have passion to make the world a better place, you are my hero. My husband inspires me because he’s the most generous human being I have ever met. Three years ago he started the Unmet Needs program, a division of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation, and raises money among Burger King restaurants. The first year he raised $110,000 and the second year he raised $250,000. This year we’re hoping for a half a million and that’s because I’m taking over.
What’s your favorite travel spot?
York, England. I go to a place called Whitby Abbey. It’s as close to heaven as I may ever get and it’s close enough. I stay in a little condominium in the village and walk to the abbey every day.
What about a great book?
The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.. I just think if you want to ever understand the power of your own mind that’s the classic book. I love Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak. And my favorite book is still Little Women.
What’s your biggest indulgence?
I get a massage every other week. I go to San Souci in Eau Claire, which means ‘no worries.’
What about the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
Be authentic and true to your words. So walk your talk, don’t just talk it.
What rejuvenates you?
I recently bought myself a baby grand piano. I had wanted a piano since I was a little girl but have never spent $5,000 on myself for anything. It took me two and a half months to get enough courage to write that check. Now I can play a simple song, and the joy sometimes makes me weep.