About a week after Cheryl had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she broke the news to eight-year-old Colin and six-year-old Emily at a family meeting.
Colin hugged his mom: “We’re cancer buddies? You have cancer, too?”
And then, she recalls, “Emily starts to get upset and says, ‘It’s not fair, everybody has cancer except me!’ and storms to her bedroom.
“And I’m sitting there thinking, I can’t believe this is my family. I have one child that’s excited because I have cancer with him and I have another child that’s upset because she doesn’t have cancer.”
Cancer was a very normal word in Cheryl's household. She had spent the past year-and-a-half caring for her son Colin as he fought leukemia. She was well acquainted with chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, emergency room visits and the other daily aspects of cancer life.
But when she was diagnosed in breast cancer in February 2014 at the age of 32, she thought the odds of both her and Colin each beating their cancers were too stacked against them.
"I thought there’s no way we’re both going to make it... life doesn’t always have a happy ending."
Despite her fears, Cheryl was intent on showing her children she could be strong enough to take care of them as well as her own illness.
She refused to let cancer define their lives.