Our Inspiration: Sheryl's Story

Sheryl at the Beach
“I learned early on that you have to 'bloom' where you are planted. Throughout life many of us will encounter trials and triumphs, but its important to remember there is always something to be gained from each experience and never to take any encounter for granted.”

Sheryl Annette Flowers (1966 - 2009)

Sheryl did just that. She blossomed wherever she went, making the most of her journey by truly living life on her terms. She touched the lives and hearts of many along the way. As a little girl, Sheryl loved books and would sit and read quietly for hours upon end. This passion for great stories led to an illustrious media career spanning almost 20 years and included nearly every facet in communications. Most recently, she served as Director of Communications for The Smiley Group, Inc. Prior to that, she was the longtime Executive Producer of The Tavis Smiley Show on public radio and the executive most responsible for the success of the radio show for its three years on National Public Radio (NPR) from 2002-2004. She was personally asked by Smiley to take the helm when he moved in 2005 to have the show distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). Sheryl consistently gave passionately of herself and her time to the people and issues she cared about. Early in her career, a story she had written on the high rates of black infant mortality in Oakland ultimately led to a position as communications specialist for the non-profit East Bay Perinatal Council. While at the Council, Sheryl helped develop an award-winning Community Health Outreach Training Program for the State of California designed to assist high-risk, underserved pregnant women receive prenatal care and other services.

In addition to her work, Sheryl loved sunflowers and salsa dancing, laughter and travel. And she was truly her mother's daughter - she definitely knew how to appreciate a great pair of shoes! Each well-heeled step Sheryl took was full of purpose and determination and helped her live her dreams. In addition to her love and devotion for her family, being surrounded by friends was what made Sheryl smile.

Sheryl fought cancer with a determination to bloom despite where this experience had planted her. Even in the moments when her illness really began to take its toll, she always found something to laugh at. When Sheryl was initially diagnosed in January of 2008, her oncologist was unfamiliar with triple negative breast cancer and suggested a treatment option that had no effect on her tumor. Not only did the treatment have no effect but the tumor doubled in size. Refusing to accept the grim news or be discouraged by this physician's lack of knowledge, Sheryl set out to educate herself and find answers. An Oprah magazine article discovered by her sister, Lori, led to countless consultations with several specialists who finally began to give Sheryl and her family the answers they sought along with hope to fight with. And true to form, Sheryl never missed an opportunity to tell a story and share information that would benefit others. In August 2008, while undergoing her own treatment, she moderated a panel discussion on awareness and prevention for young girls at the Tavis Smiley s Leadership Institute.

Sheryl lost her battle with triple negative breast cancer on June 8, 2009. However, the work of Triple Step Toward the Cure continues to honor her life and legacy by joining the fight to eradicate this disease so that one day, the lives of countless other women will no longer be cut short.