Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 9, 2012

5-year breast cancer survivor determined to help others

By Mike Fletcher
Tribune staff writer

— Five years ago, Sherri Parish’s life changed dramatically.

While stretching one day, she felt a lump on her breast. She went to a doctor and learned she had breast cancer.

“It scared me,” Parish said. “I wondered what would happen to my kids and grandkids. The chemo made me deathly sick for days and days.”

Now, a five-year cancer survivor, the 51-year-old lives to help others going through what she endured.

“I can finally breathe, but it’s always in the back of my mind,” she said of the cancer returning.

Parish participates annually in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Kokomo High School’s Walter Cross Field to raise money and awareness for cancer victims.

She still tears up at the thought of the walk.

“Every year, I participate in the walk and the survivor lap,” she said. “That makes me cry every time.”

A pink flag hanging in her front yard with the word “faith” scrolled on it is a reminder of her struggles and a sign of awareness for others.

“My flag is always flying,” she said.

Working for Dr. Joseph Greyer in Noblesville, she sees the toll cancer takes on patients.

“I’ve been able to talk to others and tell them there is hope,” she said.

For Parish, losing her hair was the worst part of her battle with cancer.

“I guess it was vanity,” she said. “I would not go anywhere unless it was to a doctor’s appointment. It was very rare for me going anywhere else. Now, I can’t cut my hair. You can’t explain it without going through it. I’m just glad I have it.”

Parish went through 16 weeks of chemotherapy in Riverview Hospital in Indianapolis and 9½ weeks of radiation at St. Joseph Hospital.

“I can survive anything now,” she said. “I am a strong woman. If it comes back again, I’ll fight it again. I have too much to live for. I don’t look forward to tomorrow. I live for today. It has changed me tremendously.”