Kathy Sherman, 54, has gone through some difficult times recently, but she did not expect what happened Thursday evening at Morgan City Health Care Center.
“I thought I was coming to hear my little niece (give a) speech,” Sherman said.
In fact, Sherman of Morgan City, who has been battling breast cancer since December 2009, was selected by the Morgan City Health Care Center nominating committee to receive its Breast Cancer Patient Assistance Award.
Sherman’s uncle, Tim O’Leary of New Orleans, sent a letter to the committee to nominate her for the award. “It’s easy to talk about someone you know and love and respect,” O’Leary said. Sherman lost her husband to cancer four months ago, he said. Sherman’s mother also was battling breast cancer at the time Sherman was diagnosed.
The center raised $1,184 last weekend at its fall festival to give to a local person with cancer, said center administrator Jeremy Ryman.
The center honored Sherman Thursday night with a dinner where O’Leary read the letter he wrote about why Sherman should receive the award and she was presented with a check for $1,184.
“The money that she receives is going to be a big help. But the fact that somebody did this for her, it’s going to mean more. It’s priceless,” O’Leary said.
The health care center activities coordinator Chyral Whitehead coordinated the event and selected O’Leary’s letter out of the 10 letters submitted. “Her (Sherman’s) letter was the one that touched my heart,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead said when she heard that Sherman had recently lost her husband and that she is fighting breast cancer, a disease both her mother and mother-in-law also battled, Whitehead chose Sherman for the award. “She (Sherman) gave so much. She survived so much. So, I had to give something back,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead added that she coordinated a similar event in 2011 to raise money to donate for breast cancer awareness, but wanted to do something a little different this year. “This year I wanted to donate (money) to a special person that I can actually meet, greet, see their surprise, expression and make them happy,” Whitehead said.
Sherman said the award “means a lot financially and in my heart.” “It makes me realize there are so many good people in the world, and family and friends, and strangers even.”
Sherman said she undergoes regular treatment for her cancer.
“I get my chemo done in Houston and sometimes in Thibodaux. It’s hard being away from home for a month at a time so this treatment I’ll do here (in Thibodaux),” she said.
O’Leary said he decided to write the letter with his wife, Maria, after his other niece told him about the award and encouraged him to nominate Sherman. “I’m not a writer. I’m not a talker, but when you’re talking about something you really care about it comes from the heart onto the paper,” he said.
“When you’ve seen people suffering and what they’re going through, and you admire and respect them, it’s really easy.”
Sherman was surrounded by her family as she received her award in what can only be described as an emotionally touching atmosphere. “It’s been a long three years,” she said. “But I don’t give up hope.”
O’Leary read the following excerpt from his letter explaining how Sherman has gotten through the past few years. “I asked Kathy how she can bear all her troubles. She smiled and explained that her troubles have brought her closer to God. She really believes she will win this war with cancer. I, for one, would not bet against her because of that smile and attitude.”
Sherman expressed her appreciation for the award and for those honoring her. “I just pray that they find a cure for this terrible disease, and I thank everybody for what they’ve done to make this night so special.”