February 27, 1961 — July 6, 2006
“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”
No truer words could be said to Cheryl. She was loved by so many people. Her cancer journey united so many people from so many different parts of the country. Her grit, determination, and strength inspired so many people. During her illness, she never lamented the cross she was burdened with. She always wanted to know how you were.
Cheryl’s cancer journey began, on a Monday in June 2001. I was looking at a strange mole on her left side. I looked in a Medical Book, and found the exact picture a Melanoma. She went to the Doctor, Skin Doctor and Surgeon on successive days. On that Friday, she had a wide excision surgery. The diagnosis was “in situ.” The skin depth of the tumor was .75, the borderline of “in situ.”
In the summer of 2004, Cheryl was barely getting out of bed before 11am. She gained a great deal of weight. The doctor said she was depressed. She was given anti-depressants.
On December 31, 2004, Cheryl called me from a soccer tournament in Orlando. She said she had a lump under her arm. I tried to dismiss it as an “ingrown hair.”
When we returned to Dallas, she went to the doctor. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma. She had a 4 cm tumor under her arm and a tumor on her sternum.
We met with several doctors, and decided on MD Anderson in Houston. She underwent 4 rounds of High Dose Interleukin 2, in the ICU. The results were that the cancer was stable. They suggested another protocol. We did High Dose Bio/Chemotherapy. This included Dacarbozine, Interleukin, Cisplatin and Vinblastine among others. She did four rounds of that. The results were not promising and a brain tumor developed.
She had a gamma knife surgery and obliterated the tumor.
The doctors at MD Anderson said they did all they could do short of trying Taxol or experimental drugs. We left and went to Arlington Cancer Center. She was put on daily doses of Bio or Chemo Drugs.
She had surgery in November. The tumor under her arm was 10cm. She also had one on her liver of 10cm. They took those out. She underwent radiation immediately afterwards.
Then, it was some another chemo drug. She had surgery in April to remove a tumor in her stomach and gall bladder.
On May 31, 2006, she was admitted to the Arlington Hospital with pleural effusion and other cancer related problems. She was given additional chemo drugs during this month. By mid-June, Cheryl was terminal and on July 6, she died.
Cheryl will be remembered for her bravery and her ability to endure the months of cancer treatment. Like the champion golfer she was, she welcomed the challenge and accepted the good and bad moments with grace.
Her memory will live on in her children, her husband and those who assisted the family during our 18 month journey.
I will love you and respect the message of faith and courage you displayed in your time of trial.
A Tribute to Cheryl
When a tournament has a field set, there is always an alternates list. These are the people who will fill-in for those who can’t make their tee time. We, those of us who lost a family member or a friend to melanoma or any cancer, are now standing in their place.
We are called to make their lives unforgettable.
By participating in cancer research, as a donor, a volunteer or a participant, in events like The Schlip, gives our loved ones a measure of immortality because their memory is being honored and recalled.
My wife, Cheryl, a champion golfer, was diagnosed with melanoma in January 2005. She was listed as Stage 4. In her situation, she was projected to live 6 months.
Cheryl fought the disease for 18 months before losing on the last hole and cancer’s last putt.
But, she lives on through her children, her friends and her family. Her incredible determination, her will to never concede anything, inspires so many who know her story.
That is the story of us, the cancer survivors and families.
I was proud of the many people who rallied to our aid during those months. I was humbled by those members of Team Hairston who have stayed on helping rear, support, assist and raise the children.
Cheryl would be proud.
She would be equally proud of our friend Governor Rick Perry who was moved by Cheryl’s and the countless others who have been stricken with cancer.
Working with the legislature there is now $3B being used to augment and supplement the research money being raised by people such as Jean Schlipmann, and The Schlip Melanoma Foundation.
In Cheryl’s eulogy, we described her cancer journey like Dorothy’s adventure in the Wizard of Oz.
She was supported by a Scarecrow, Lion and a Tin Man. They, to me, symbolize Faith, Hope/Wisdom and Courage.
Dorothy got back home to Kansas, in Cheryl’s case, she got to Heaven. And, Team Hairston was the characters in that journey, not only to Cheryl but to the family.
The message the Wizard gave the Tin Man resonates with me. I would like to share that sentiment with you…
The Tin Man wanted a heart. He wanted to know how to love or be loved.
For you, who participate, produce or volunteer in The Schlip or any other activity, the Wizard would say…
“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
The researchers, the cancer patient whose life is being lengthened, enhanced, improved or cured by your support, as well as the families whose loved ones are still alive are those who love and appreciate you.
Now, it is time to step-up to the tee box. Your name has been called as first alternate.