Race for the Cure memorializes inspiration for survivor breakfast

Race for the Cure memorializes inspiration for survivor breakfast

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Each year before the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, there is a breast cancer survivor breakfast at the Pinnacle.

The woman who inspired the breakfast is the woman who the Toledo race is memorializing in 2017.

Shari Thees inspiration helped not only her family to get involved in ending breast cancer, but inspired others to beat the disease.

"The phenomenal things she had in her life was her faith, her friends, her family, phenomenal health care, she really embraced everything with a positive attitude," Shari's daughter Michelle Meehan said. "From day one she was positive and proud to be a survivor."

In 1997, Shari was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer spread to her lymph nodes, meaning the prognosis was not good. Still she remained positive.

"She was a very strong person," Shari's husband Bill Thees said. "And as a result she handled it with a lot of determination."

She attacked the cancer with chemo, stem cell treatments and radiation therapy. But after all of those failed, Herceptin, a cancer drug funding in park by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, helped Sheri defy the odds.

"In a matter of six months of treatment, all the cancer was gone," Bill remembered.

With the cancer now gone, Sheri was able to focus on the support that helped her through her treatment.

"Let's get her to that baby being born," Michelle remembered. "And then six more grandchildren being born and a great-grandchild. She lived 17 and three-quarters years with breast, lung, liver, brain. So it was an amazing thing the amount of milestones she got to share with us."

Sheri's son Mark owns the Pinnacle. When his mother was first diagnosed, he donated the hall, food and service to honor Sheri and other survivors.

It was one of the events she looked forward to each year.

[I'm] proud of him for doing that. And she was proud of him because she loved the survivor breakfast," Bill said. "[She[ looked forward to it and met lots of people every year."

In 2015, her cancer returned, but this time it was terminal. But she remained positive while surrounded by her children, grandchildren and husband of 55 years stood by her side.

"She started singing 'You are My Sunshine,'  and it was so sweet because she would look right at my dad and sing it almost to him," Michelle remembered. "She held his hand tight til the last breath."

Shari Thees passed away on June 15, 2015 at the age of 75.

Because of inspiration and her unending commitment to fighting breast cancer, the Susan G Komen Foundation dedicated this year's Race for the Cure in her memory.

"[It gives me] goosebumps, tears, pride. It's really so exciting for us.," Michelle said. "My mom was a survivor for such a long time, and she really was a cheerleader for all the women in their sisterhood of breast cancer. So I think she'd be smiling."

The team honoring Thees is now called "You are My Sunshine" after her favorite song. Dozens of people signed up to join the team.

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