• Last modified 3521 days ago (Nov. 25, 2009)


Peabody shows support for Sharlene Brooks

Staff writer

Sharlene Brooks had helped organize events like this for the school and scouts. Being the center of attention was overwhelming.

Peabody residents, school employees, and even school alumni filled the Peabody-Burns High School cafeteria. They were there to support Brooks in her fight against ovarian and colon cancer. People dropped money into a jar as they entered through the doors and in return were given a meal of either chicken noodle soup or chili, and a piece of cake for dessert.

Enough people attended that Peabody girls basketball players took tables and chairs and set them up in the lobby outside of the cafeteria for the spillover crowd.

“I think the one good thing about a small town is you can be there to support someone,” Peabody-Burns Teacher Mary Thiessen said.

A succession of people all came over to Brooks to give a hug, offer their support, and even in some cases to share cancer survival stories.

“I did not realize how many people have battled different types cancer and survived,” Brooks said. “It gives you hope.”

“I would like to thank all the organizers and the community for their support,” Brooks said.

Brooks has worked in the Peabody-Burns Central Office since 2005, employed by USD 398 as Clerk of the Board with payroll and other human resources responsibilities.

She is currently on the FFA Alumni Board, Peabody Community Foundation Board, and has volunteered throughout the community. She is a lifelong resident of Peabody and the community has come to depend on her.

“She’s the one who takes care of us,” Thiessen said. “We have paper work and she does it with a smile.”

Neighbors Samantha and Brandon Pickens are friends with her children, Christopher and Heather, and served drinks at the event.

“She’d do anything for anybody,” Samantha Pickens said. “She’s always done anything for us.”

At the end of September, Brooks had a CT scan and was told she had ovarian cancer. By the time she had surgery on Oct. 16, the cancer had spread to her colon. Brooks had a hysterectomy and a colon resection to remove the cancer. She hasn’t received any treatment to kill the cancer because she had to wait four to six weeks to recover.

Brooks was in the hospital for 12 days and said the pain was excruciating.

“I felt like a Mack truck ran over me,” she said.

The treatment recommendation from her doctor, Douglas Horbelt of Wesley Medical Center, in Wichita, was several rounds of chemotherapy. On Tuesday, Brooks is going to visit the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to receive opinions on what treatments are available to her.

“It’s one of the best cancer facilities in the world,” she said. “If I don’t go, I’ll wind up thinking ‘what if?’”

Even though Brooks only found out about the cancer in September, she said that she might have ignored some symptoms earlier in the year. Some doctors said that she could have had cancer for as much as two years before getting it diagnosed.

“I had simple symptoms — indigestion, feeling bloated — I’d get better and I thought ‘Oh, it’s nothing,’” she said. “It just turns your world around.”

Brooks strongly advises women to be in tune with their bodies and to know when something is wrong.

“People know their bodies,” she said. “Listen to it.”

Brooks would like to thank everyone who came to the dinner.

“I would like to thank all the organizers and the community for their support,” Brooks said.

Last modified Nov. 25, 2009