2018’s Five Fierce Females of Oak Cliff

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Five years, two boobs, two separate cases of breast cancer.

Doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center had treated Sheri Mathis for breast cancer in 2007 with a lumpectomy, radiation and five years of the breast-cancer prevention drug Tamoxifen. Then a mammogram in 2012 found that she had breast cancer again. This was a new case on the other side, not a recurrence of the previous cancer. 

She opted for a double mastectomy.

Mathis and her two sisters all were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 40s, though their mother didn’t have it, and they don’t have the known breast-cancer genes. 

Mammograms saved their lives.

Since her initial diagnosis, Mathis has been dedicated to raising money to fund mammograms for women who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

She started with Volley for a Cure, a volleyball tournament at the Canterbury Episcopal School, where her children attended. When she took a job with Good Space Inc. about five years ago, she started Shop, Eat, Drink, Pink, an annual Bishop Arts District fundraiser.

She recently started a new nonprofit, Mammogram Poster Girls, with real estate maven Amanda Lake. Mammogram Poster Girls throws dinner parties with local chefs to raise money for breast cancer early detection.

Over the years, Mathis has raised more than $175,000, all given for the cause to Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

Her third place after home and work: Tiny Victories, just because you see everybody, from 21 to 70s and 80s, coming in there. And Nova.

Her favorite image of the neighborhood: When I walk with my grandchildren to Annie Stevens Park. Just hanging out and watching how much fun they have at a place where I live. That was one of my first fundraising projects. I was on the Stevens Park Neighborhood Association board. It makes me happy that my grandchildren play on the same equipment that my kids played on.

It makes me happy that my grandchildren play on the same equipment that my kids played on.

Accomplishment she’s most proud of: I’ve kept all three children alive at this point. But they’ve also taken initiative and are making their way in the world. 

The most challenging thing she’s overcome: Losing my mother [who died the same week as one of Mathis’ major surgeries]. When you lose your mother, you lose your anchor. The scariest is that my mother was a bit of a hoarder. She was a keeper of memories and things. My biggest fear was having to go through her house, which is exactly what we did, and decide what stayed, what went. And we kept the important stuff. We kept the letters and mementos. But you can’t keep everything.

The best advice she’s ever received: Don’t give up. Never give up.

The best gift she’s received: My grandchildren. The gift of a second chance. Second to that would be when I got new boobs and a tummy tuck on my birthday.

Her greatest influence: My mother, for both the good and the bad. I would never be like her or I want to be like her, depending on the time.

What she looks for in volunteers: People with a passion for our mission, and doers. I don’t need any figureheads. I need hands-on people. We always need help. [Call her at 214.908.8741 to volunteer].

Advice for her younger self: Worry less. Same advice I would give to my older self, and I’m not very good at worrying less.

On the local nonprofits she supports: Methodist Hospitals of Dallas Guild, the Methodist Healthcare Foundation, Rosemont Early Childhood PTA and Rosemont Elementary, Reagan Elementary.

How she relaxes: On a raft in the pool slathered with SPF 30.

The biggest problem facing our neighborhood: How to best grow and not lose who we are. And, of course, I work for a developer. I’ve been here when we didn’t have a grocery store or a restaurant, but we also don’t want to outgrow ourselves.