Sharon Rhodes
(November 9, 1955 - December 10, 2010)

On May 7, family, friends and coworkers came together in the Hospice Atlanta Chapel to say farewell to our Sharon Rhodes. Sharon passed away on December 10, 2010, but she hated winter an asked her husband Craig not to hold a memorial service before spring. Craig followed her wishes and scheduled the memorial service for May. She loved sunshine, flowers, life. May 7th was a pretty sunny day in Atlanta, blooming flowers, singing birds, blue sky and zephyr. That was the day for celebrating the life of Sharon Rhodes.

I met Sharon on an early November day in 2008 at the Emory University Hospital room 901 just a few days after her laryngectomy surgery. She looked tired and scared. Everyone is scared after total laryngectomy. I had been as well and in that moment I knew how she was feeling. But when I introduced myself using my trahoesophageal voice recovery technique Sharon's "worried face" changed to a brittle smile. She grabs a notepad and wrote "I want to talk like you, tell me all about it!" She had hundreds of questions about life with laryngectomy and I tried to answer them as best as I could.

I was sure that I just meet somebody who is a big fighter and that she will also and big inspiration for other larynx cancer patient. Few weeks later Sharon and Craig Rhodes joined Greater Atlanta Voice Masters. That was our holiday party in December 2008. We have had a "White Elephant" game and she was so happy to be a part. I invited her to join me by visiting other cancer patients and she did it just then weeks after her own laryngectomy surgery. In the past ten years I visited hundreds of patients, and nobody else started to visit other patients so quickly.I will never forget when we met in the Emory Hospital main lobby before our first visit. She was so happy to have an opportunity to help another cancer patient.

I asked Sharon to write an article about her visitation experience for our website. She wrote "I think that our visit helped both the woman as well as her husband. And oddly enough, it helped me. It made me feel good knowing that I could reach out and touch someone and, I hope, help them to feel a little better about facing a very hard time. Maybe it helped me to also realize that I too am not alone in this. All in all, the visit was good and I will never hesitate to visit any newcomer if I am given the opportunity." Together we visited several people after their laryngectomy surgeries and during these visitations we become truly good friends. She visited others and helped them even when cancer had spread throughout her body and she suffered a lot of pain walking around.

I asked Sharon's husband Craig to help me with this article. Here are some on his reflections on Sharon. "Sharon loved gardening, a venture that started during childhood. When we bought our house in Lithonia in 1990 there was a whole landscape to paint. The property was filled with native flora and flowering species of camelias, azaleas, hydrangeas. Also, various annuals and perennials graced the photogenic scene. When Sharon got ill she turned her creative efforts to beading and knitting. She was very good at both. What I will miss most is the smile. And Sharon had a wink that could melt a shark's heart. Everyone who knew her, you know what I mean." While reading Craig's words I once again remember Sharon's smile that I first saw in the Emory Hospital room 901. Yes, this smile will never die.

B. Jovanovic