Even though cancer survivor, Cheryl Myers has had to undergo major surgery and extensive treatment programs to fight seven life-threatening health problems during the past 14 years, her most difficult moments did not occur in the operating rooms.
Quietly recalling the incidents, she paused to say, “Hearing the doctor say that I had breast cancer and then having to tell my family about it were the hardest things I’ve had to do.”
Considering all that she has had to endure before and after that day in 2001, her statement comes as somewhat of a surprise. Myers’ first medical crisis occurred around 1997 when a ruptured appendix threatened her life and necessitated immediate hospitalization.
Four years later, she again faced surgery to combat breast cancer. Although she underwent a radical mastectomy, followed by a round of eight chemotherapy treatments and 36 doses of radiation, Myers and her physician were aware that the disease had not been completely eradicated.
“Unfortunately, my insurance company would not pay for a bilateral mastectomy,” she said. “Cancer research, at that time, indicated that the removal of one breast should be effective. If I had known then what I know now, though, I should have insisted that the doctor perform the bilateral procedure; it may have prevented the recurrence of cancer.”
The disease struck a second and third time last year. Not only did Myers have to struggle with brain cancer and more surgery, followed by additional radiation treatments, tests revealed she also had been afflicted with endometrial cancer that required surgery involving internal radiation.
Dealing with cancer by itself might have been enough to devastate anyone else, but along the way, Myers has had to resolve other health problems. In 2010, she had to have three stents put into her heart. Recently, surgery was required to clear her carotid artery. Several months ago, she experienced a TIA (or “mini-stroke”) that resulted in some problems with speaking and concentrating.
“It’s frustrating sometimes when I can’t say the words I want to, but I’m gradually getting back to where I should be,” she said.
Admittedly, the one activity she misses most is being able to drive. Although she must take nine different prescription drugs each day (a total of 11 pills), she is quick to point out, “There are many people who are much worse off than I am.”
In spite of all her afflictions, Myers declares, “I am very fortunate. I’ve had all these problems, but I’m still able to keep going.”
Grateful to the hospitals and the medical staffs that have been instrumental in her recovery, Myers says, “Basically, it is my family and friends who deserve credit for my being here. I could not have done any of this without them.’’
Myers is particularly grateful to her husband William, their daughter Stephanie Winebark and her husband Jack, as well as her mother, her siblings and her extended family.
There’s one person, however, who truly lights up Cheryl’s life.
“I’ve got my own little angel, my granddaughter Shania (Winebark),” she said. “She’s the joy of my life, every day.”
Daughter Stephanie chimed in, “It’s Mom’s awesome attitude about everything that has helped the most.”
Myers’ quiet courage and determination have made deep impressions upon her many friends, most of whom came to know her as the owner of the C&S Restaurant, where she worked for 32 years. Well-known for her cheerful, hearty greetings, her sense of humor, her roast beef sandwiches, homemade fries and gravy, and her fruit and cream pies, Myers often was busy at 5 a.m. preparing the day’s fare.
Her physically-demanding career was the result of her great love of cooking and baking, chores which she is still enjoying as thoughts of Thanksgiving approach.
No longer standing at the restaurant’s big stove and ovens, Myers says, “I really miss the people, all the customers, especially my regulars that I run into down the street. They tell me they sure miss my cooking.”
She chuckled and said, “Sometimes they’re surprised to see me out. I tell them I haven’t gone anywhere because there are too many people left for me to ‘torture’ (pick on).”
Although she would be the last to reveal the details, Myers is also known for her generosity. Over her three decades in business, she quietly helped many individuals, families, strangers, and local organizations with donations of many kinds.
Now, one of Myers’ former employees, Shauna Wood, a senior at PAHS, is sponsoring “Chow Down for Cheryl,” a benefit spaghetti dinner to raise funds to help with Cheryl’s expenses, Saturday, October 22.
“Everybody knows Cheryl, but they probably don’t know how good she has been to so many people,” Wood said. “My senior project is my way of letting others show Cheryl how much they appreciate her.”