Faces of Loudoun: Shirley’s Story—I Will Live My Life with the Help of My Guardian Angels

I grew up in Loudoun as part of a large family—6 brothers and 3 sisters, all of whom are gone now. As a single mom, I worked as a bookkeeper and raised three wonderful children. I absolutely loved being a caregiver. But, now I live all alone.

I lost my first son, Steve, 23 years ago to a car accident. My second son, Craig, succumbed to liver cancer two years back, and my daughter lives in Maryland after having four brain surgeries in a year.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver and colon cancer. My odds did not look good. But, I am a fighter. I had surgery in December of that year and have been undergoing chemotherapy every two weeks since.

In 2016, I had a really bad relapse. The emergency squad took me to the hospital. But, I just couldn’t seem to get back on my feet. So, I transferred to a long-term nursing home. After a month, I decided to leave. My experience there had been awful, and I wanted my independence back. I wanted to go back to the home where I had lived a blessed life for 44 years.

My daughter and niece were terrified for me. The doctors said I would relapse within a week. But, I knew I could do better on my own. I had to try.

No one in Loudoun should have to be a burden to their family.

 The Next Chapter

The biggest problem I faced living back at home were all the little chores, especially since my arthritis is so bad. How would I keep the house clean? How would I get groceries? Go to the doctor’s office?

The answers came straight from God. Social Services told me about a local nonprofit that sends volunteers to help people just like me. God sent me my angels. And it changed my life completely.

Now, Laurie comes to my home every other Saturday to help me with the household chores. And Barbara and Sandy drive me to the grocery store and my doctor’s appointments. But, they do so much more than that. All three come in and chat with me whenever I want them to. They make me feel wanted. They spoil me with love, generous smiles, and undivided attention. I look forward to their visits.  It’s like having family all over again.

These volunteers—who freely give of their personal time—are 100 percent there for me. They do anything to make me feel like I am not alone in this journey. They say I am their inspiration. But, in truth, they are my guardian angels. Without them, I would not be here today. They have certainly done their part to End the Need in Loudoun.


As part of the Community Foundation’s Faces of Loudoun campaign, Loudoun Nowis publishing monthly articles highlighting men, women and children who have found a helping hand when they needed it most. Learn more or donate to help End the Need at FacesofLoudoun.org.

Shirley, a Loudoun County resident, shares about the support she received from a local nonprofit to help her through her battle with cancer. [Courtesy of AlphaGraphics]

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