2019 Step Up for Stefanie’s Champions: John Snoad
Sherri Snoad was training for the Cap City Half Marathon in February 2016 when she developed a persistent cough. After failed treatments for bronchitis and pneumonia, a chest X-ray and subsequent CT scan revealed an abnormal lung nodule.
Much to Sherri’s relief, an initial biopsy showed what looked like histoplasmosis – a fungal infection. Follow-up testing a month later, however, revealed more lung nodules.
Sherri was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Her plans quickly changed from embarking on a family trip to Europe to beginning inpatient five-day chemotherapy treatments at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
“This time of my life was a blur of emotions, struggles and pain,” she says. “My husband John traveled to every appointment with me, spent hours researching my disease, retained information when I was too numb to comprehend, became my voice of reason through all the doubt and was my strongest advocate.”
Over the course of her illness, Sherri spent almost four months in the hospital. John went to his job as a high school history teacher and football coach when she was not facing complications or chemotherapy. He returned every night with a smile on his face, often bringing small surprises to cheer her up.
“When I woke up scared in the middle of the night, I could look at him and know I was safe,” she says.
When Sherri was discharged, he took on even more of her care. “He took extensive notes from the dietitians at The James to provide me with the healthiest meals possible that I was able to tolerate. He learned new cooking methods to keep foods from cross-contaminating and continuously disinfected our home,” she recalls.
Despite his efforts, Sherri faced more complications, including surgery to remove her spleen and emergency surgery that left her with the need for a colostomy bag.
“It was temporary, but it was a blow I had trouble dealing with. John, being my rock, took care of everything and helped me find humor in the situation,” she says.
More complications followed Sherri’s fifth round of chemotherapy, and she was hospitalized for three weeks with high fevers and dangerously low blood pressure. She had to depend on a walker and gait belt to get around.
“John became my coach. He coaxed me to walk a little farther each day and take back control of my life,” she says. Walking soon turned into jogging, driveways into blocks and blocks into miles.
As motivation for her recovery, the couple trained for a Savage Mudder Race. John stayed by Sherri’s side the entire race, and they crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.
“That day, I accomplished more than finishing a running race. I felt like I finished the race against cancer,” says Sherri, who is cancer-free today.
“Cancer did not sneak in and out of my life unnoticed,” she says. “The fear of relapse is always in the back of my mind, but John is the cheerleader in my corner that keeps my spirits up and my fight strong.”