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fantasy football live chat:She was diagnosed with cancer two months after she met her boyfriend. Her doctors saw their love story unfold – then played a role in their wedding

Cancer survivor's doctors play role at wedding
Cancer survivor invites doctors who saved her to play a special role at her wedding 03:01

For their first date, Sherri Shaw James and Bill James weathered a storm together — literally. A nor'easter was heading toward North Carolina, but neither of them was aware of the impending storm. So, they decided go to lunch and a movie for their first date.

Lunch and a movie turned into dinner and dessert, and the two talked for hours, not realizing the storm growing around them. "We were enjoying the conversation, we were having so much fun talking, it was a real bonding experience," Shaw told CBS News. "it started to rain harder and harder and harder, the winds started blowing like crazy and pretty soon, the roads started closing."

That night, James made sure Shaw had a safe place to stay. The next day, the clouds parted and their relationship started to bud. 

But just two months into dating, another storm rolled in: Sherri, who is now 70, was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer.

"I had known that he had wanted to travel. So, I pretty much told him, 'Time to break up. You can go travel and I'm going to go deal with cancer.' And he refused to let me do that," Shaw said.

In 2021, she decided to receive treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. And James wasn't going to let her go alone. "To get from North Carolina to Texas, that was a big undertaking. He actually went out and bought a big SUV just to take us there," she said about James.

Sherri Shaw says her boyfriend, Bill James, became a true partner to her as she battled cancer. They met just two months before her diagnosis.  Patrick Curphey

Once at MD Anderson, Shaw started receiving what she was told would be brutal treatment. Still, she was determined in her fight. 

Drs. Emma Holliday and Van Morris were her main doctors. "It was difficult, I have to say. It was hard to stand up, hard to eat, hard to do anything," Shaw said. "But they prepared me for that. They had medication ready. They took care of me. I didn't feel it was impossible. I just kept taking it one hour at a time and going through it. And they supported me all the way." 

Holliday and Morris were also there to witness her love story with James unfold as she received treatment. 

Shaw said during her treatment, James became a true partner to her. "He drove me every morning to the hospital. He was there to pick me up. He never left the hospital, he was outside waiting for me whenever I could go," she aid. "And I felt like that was a gift that he gave to me. I fell in love with him. He fell in love with me. And it was amazing something like that could happen during cancer treatment."

James couldn't go into Shaw's hospital room due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But at the end of her treatment, he was able to meet Holliday. 

"I had never met her, but I heard rave reviews about her," James told CBS News. "And at the end, when we were just wrapping up there, they allowed me to come in. And I showed my appreciation by giving her a dozen roses... And I hugged her and whispered in her ear, 'You saved my girl.'"

Holliday told CBS News that at nearly every visit, Shaw talked about James and how he was supporting her. "He saw her being so strong going through cancer and cancer treatment," she said. "And she always passed on his thanks and gratitude and appreciation for what our team was doing for Sherri," Holliday said. 

"He went to a florist that was down the street from the hospital and brought in the most beautiful and extravagant and full bouquet of red roses at her last day of treatment – and then at every check-up appointment afterwards," she said. "It was Bill's way of participating and saying thank you. And it was so touching and meaningful for us to be on the receiving end of that."

After months of treatment, Shaw returned home to North Carolina with James — free of cancer, but full of love. The pair decided to tie the knot and Shaw wanted her doctors to play a new role in her love story.

"I realized that they were such a part of me being able to marry my best friend that I wanted them there. I wanted them to celebrate. But more than that, I wanted them both to escort me down the aisle so that they could actually give me to Bill, because they were the hands of fate that saved me and allowed me time to marry Bill," she said.

Dr. Van Morris and Dr. Emma Holliday from MD Anderson accepted Shaw's invitation to her wedding – and to walk her down the aisle to James. Jason Robles Photography

Morris said while the "lows can be very low" as an oncology doctor, "the highs can be very high." "And I think this is such a great example of such a high. Being able to be a part of Sherri's journey at one of the lowest points in her life when she was diagnosed with cancer, and then be able to be there for the highest of high days as well – it was an absolute no-brainer to share that."

"I think as oncologists we're more often invited to funerals than we are to weddings," Holliday said. "So this was such a beautiful thing to be invited to participate in."

Last month, Shaw and James tied the knot in North Carolina in front of their kids, grandkids, friends and two special guests who flew in from Texas: Holliday and Morris. "I was so honored that they came. So honored that they took time out of their schedule to be here for me. That they got to see what they saved me for," Shaw said. 

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