Devastating. That’s how 44-year-old LaShaun “Shaun” Sherrell describes the day she was diagnosed with colon cancer. “It was life changing,” said Shaun. “Unbelievable. I’m pretty young still!”
When her treatments started, a diagnosis that had at first seemed impossible began to have very real effects. “I was vomiting a lot and had a lot of nausea,” said Shaun. “My stomach was hurting all the time.”
Making matters worse, Shaun was living on her own, with no family in Colorado. She’d moved here years earlier, on a bit of a whim, to escape Chicago’s bitter cold. Seeing that Shaun was struggling, a social worker at her hospital suggested that Project Angel Heart might be able to provide meals.
“The meals help a lot,” says Shaun. “A lot of time after therapy, I’m happy to have food. I’m too tired to stand and cook. And, the best part is, I don’t have to leave the house. It comes right to the door.”
That’s important, not only because Shaun’s treatments sap her energy, but also because her living situation makes cooking difficult. Her tidy one-room apartment offers an amazing view of the mountains to the west, but no kitchen. There’s a refrigerator and freezer and a small microwave for heating meals, but to do any other cooking, Shaun must venture 10 floors down to a shared kitchen, located in what she laughingly refers to as “the dungeon.”
Without Project Angel Heart meals, “I’d probably go to bed without eating a lot of times,” said Shaun, “and that’s not what the doctors want you to do!”
Shaun says she’s doing all right, but that there are days when it’s tough not having family around. “Days when you’re really down, that’s when it’s the worst,” she says.
When she has the energy, she enjoys walking in her neighborhood and getting friends together for bowling. On days when she can’t get out, she listens to music (she enjoys everything from Patsy Cline to hip-hop) or watching a movie from her extensive collection.
As for the food, she’s happy to have the help, and says she likes pretty much everything that comes in her weekly meal bag, especially the dishes that include cabbage, a personal favorite.
She also appreciates seeing a friendly face every week and the boost that comes from knowing people care. “Getting the food makes a person feel better mentally,” said Shaun. “Seeing someone coming to the door every week just makes you feel good.”