CADILLAC — When life happens things can change in an instant, and a lot of life happened for Sheila Simerson in 2019.
Like many of us, Shelia was looking to make some changes to improve her health. Her plan of attack was to rejoin the Cadillac Area YMCA and seek assistance from a personal trainer. As she was about to start on her journey for better health, her husband was diagnosed with cancer after a mass was found in his abdomen.
She said her husband had non-Hodgkins lymphoma and due to where it was in his abdomen, the mass couldn't be removed. Instead, he had to have six months of chemotherapy and then six weeks of radiation treatments for five days each week at the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City.
When her world turned upside down, Sheila put her exercise plans on hold. Instead of working out, she was taking on all the major responsibilities at home. She was transporting her husband to Traverse City for monthly appointments, chemo treatments, and radiation treatments.
From July 2018 to March 2019, her time was dedicated to her husband's cancer journey as well as working a part-time job. Due to her husband's illness, Shelia said she was on indefinite leave from her other job working at the local Gordon Food Service store.
"I handled everything while my husband was dealing with cancer and now he has followed up appointments. It was hard to get ahead financially to get a membership at the Y," she said. "We are just now getting back on our feet."
With her husband on the mend and her return to Gordon Foods this past October, Shelia started to think about what she wanted to do to help her be healthier. While things are getting better, Sheila said she still is not able to afford a membership at the YMCA. She was close but not quite yet.
So that is when she decided to write a letter to Believe ... Christmas Wishes Do Come True campaign. Shelia said she was reluctant to submit her wish. She felt awkward and out of her comfort zone, but after some reassurance, she sent in her wish.
"I need to lose between 75-100 pounds. Over the last year, I have eaten out of stress. I want good direction to know what exercises to do to help tone and lose weight," she said. "I also need to learn about nutrition that goes with that to help with my diabetes, but also so I'm not starving myself."
To help Shelia on her physical fitness and nutrition journey, the Cadillac Area YMCA is providing her with a membership to the Dillon Community Center through March as well as multiple sessions with a personal trainer through the Believe campaign.
Cadillac Area YMCA Chief Executive Officer Mike Kelso said helping Shelia is a great example of how the organization is living out its mission and helping out people in the Cadillac community.
"She was a member years ago and had a rough patch with several things with her husband and health," he said. "If we can give her a few months to get her started and a personal trainer to help her that is part of our mission."
Kelso said he also is humbled that Shelia asked for a membership at the Y when she could have asked for anything to help her on her healthy journey.
"She recognized the value of her experience here and it feels great to be able to provide this for her," he said.
After her membership is complete, Kelso said they will work with her to make sure she can continue with her journey at a price that will work for her budget.