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Author Sheryll O’Brien’s blog provides a window into the fight against cancer

I thought I had a bad day. At least three things happened that annoyed me beyond reason, including the unexpected high pressure washing of my building while my windows were open. The delivery from pet supply company Chewy.com contained a container of broken cat treats inside, and the coffee maker frozen in not one but TWO Dunkin’ Donuts were out of order. I was about to pop a joint, as my dad would say, when I sat down to read pullthreadsnovella.com blog #83, “Close and Yet So Far.”

That’s when I realized I was an ungrateful whiner.

If you’re not familiar with the blog, you should be. It’s written by a “kid” I grew up with in Columbus Park. Her name was Sheryll Sneade then, and she lived around the corner from the Hackett family. I didn’t know her well, but she was part of the fabric that made the neighborhood what it was: a gem, tucked away from Main South but close enough to send us to South High. Sheryll then married another child from South High, Tim O’Brien. He was a guy from Webster Square, but that neighborhood was always considered close enough to belong to us too. Sheryll and Tim got married, settled on Wildwood Ave. and had two children. The usual stuff – until Cancer knocked on the door, with no intention of paying it a short visit.

Sheryll O’Brien began her writing career as a detective novelist. Since 2018, she has published 25 short stories; the word “prolific” does not quite describe his output. She soon discovered that writing about her battle with cancer was not only an outlet for her fears and hopes, but also her true calling. She may be a very good fiction writer, but her ability to put her harrowing journey into words is where her talents really shine. I heard about his blog when I ordered a beer from the Knights of Columbus fry. (Of course I did. The place is crawling with kids from Columbus Park during Lent.) Bartender Kathy Lavallee Budgell leaned over and asked if I knew about Sheryll’s fight. I did not do it. I’m doing it now.

Entry #83 relates how Sheryll broke the news to her sister and her mother.

“I told them the sequence of events: bad alk phosphatase, more specific blood tests, nuclear bone scan, full body X-rays, blah, blah, blah… I hadn’t been benched yet, which meant that I had no idea how fragile my skeleton and my femurs were. Never mind, the visit was not going to end with a festive cartwheel.

This naked honesty is what makes her blog a fascinating read. She peppers it with funny stories about her husband, Tim, nicknamed “Mr. Great.” Sometimes he stumbles in his desire to help her through this terrain, but he is always devoted to the woman he loves. Sheryll tells her story with candor, humor and bravery – a word she would laugh at. She talks about everyday struggles in a way that reveals both her strength and her vulnerabilities. She now writes with a hard-to-define urgency, racing against the clock to say all she needs to say, and despite the popularity of Sheryll’s blog, cancer isn’t what she wants to be remembered. . She knows she will be remembered as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend, but there is more.

“This story of death and death from cancer has made it my mission to let people know two things: the palliative care program and the fact that this is not the final experience of your life. It’s really the beginning of a period where you can just focus on your life. And while you’re waiting to die, you can fill the hours however you’re capable of. Write a book or read a sonnet…watch a black and white movie you love with a 20-year-old grandniece.

“It’s a time when you can make a lot of really important memories – for those you leave behind.”

Sheryll O’Brien’s cancer is terminal. His spirit is decidedly eternal.