Cheerleaders Les Heller and Shari Hartwig

Shari Hartwig

Shortly after graduation, I moved to Santa Barbara, experienced the interesting ‘hippie’ movement short term—it was not for me. I dabbled in college at Mount St. Mary’s College, although interesting, found college was not for me. In the early 1970’s I lived in Europe by myself in Fiumicino, Italy for 1 ½ years 2 blocks from the beach on the Mediterranean outside of Rome where I worked.

There are just too many awesome stories to list. Moved to London, England after taking a few months in my VW van touring France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland where I skied the Alps while staying in Gstaad, Switzerland.

When you’re by yourself you tend to reach out and engage with the locals. My companion in the van was my 8 track tape player, and again, far too many experiences to list. I enjoyed London for another 1½ years before returning home to the states. I dabbled in drugs and alcohol far too much, therefore the reason I am clean and sober 28 years through Alcoholics Anonymous in which I am a proud member to this day.

I moved to Palm Desert, California early 1980’s and opened my first business, a Broasted Chicken take out restaurant where 5 more soon opened after the success of the 1 st one. After 12 years in the desert I decided it wasn’t for me so I sold my home and business and moved to Durango, Colorado with my dog and have gratefully lived here for the past 25 years because I had finally found my forever home. I live on 3 acres in ranch country with my beautiful black horse, big donkey, handsome 140 lb dog and great ranching neighbors. My horse doesn’t want to be ridden so I ride my Harley instead. I opened a few more simple restaurants, some succeeded, some didn’t and that’s o.k.

As for personal romantic relationships I found the few I tried to develop did not fit me. Perhaps my independence and sense of adventure fit me so well it has been personally more fulfilling to open businesses and have good friends.

Having been healthy all my life, I was diagnosed last year with stage 3 colon cancer. I only mention it, not for myself but to perhaps help someone else. I went through surgeries and intense chemo treatments with a chemo pump attached to me 24hrs 3 days a week for 6 months. When I realized I might not survive this, my lifelong positive attitude reminded me how fortunate I’ve been to have lived such an exciting wonderful life and if it was my time to go I made an easy decision to make peace with whatever was to be my fate. That was powerful. It did not mean give up. For me, that meant the simple Serenity Prayer – to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can. I accepted that I was very sick from chemo treatments but did not stop them.

Oddly enough, during the darkest hours I was able to have many meaningful ‘magical’ moments that can only come from going through such an experience. Today I am gratefully cancer free while joyfully living with the adverse side-affects all that chemo creates. Chemo brain is just one and is real and can be very funny. I bought a patch for my leathers at a Harley Rally that states: THERE IS NOTHING RIGHT IN MY LEFT BRAIN AND NOTHING LEFT IN MY RIGHT BRAIN. I never lost my sense of humor or positive attitude. I believe there is magic in that alone. I love my life and always have. It isn’t what happens to you in life it’s how you handle what happens to you in life.

I am disappointed to miss the reunion. The reason is I have follow up cat scans and appointments during that time in order to keep me healthy, strong and full of the same exciting life I have always lived.

Have fun at this very special reunion and I will be thinking about you on Saturday.

Shari Hartwig St. Michael

About Katherine Crosier

I am an organist in Honolulu—a rare breed of folks who play the King of Instruments! Through stories, photos, and videos, this blog is a diary of my musical journey ... and my family just groans!

10 responses »

  1. Robert Elliot says:

    Sorry you won’t be there, would love to see you! You’ve had a wonderful life and I’m glad to see you staying so strong!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Kim Harrington says:

    Oh Shari, I am so sorry you won’t be there. I was looking forward to talking with you at the event. Sounds like you have had a fabulous life. Haven’t talked to you since 1959.
    I hope all goes well for you in the future and maybe some time, we’ll have a chance to get together.

  3. Lester J Heller says:

    WHAT A JOURNEY !!!!!!! I wanted to post a photo here, but don’t know if I can….so…maybe check our class page…it is You and Me….long time ago….
    Be Well…Stay Safe….

  4. Chris (John) Sengers says:

    I had diverticulitis, and my colon ruptured. I had a life threatening infection. After surgery, and a colostomy, they found a blood clot had broken off and lodged in my heart.
    So three days after the colon surgery, I had open heart surgery to remove the clot. After all that, they went back in and removed the colostomy. So,
    some of us understand how the sudden realization that “I might not make it” impacts your thinking and creates a new appreciaton for life and living.
    Good luck in your fight to remain healthy. All of us are in your corner.

  5. Ron Unis says:

    You are my hero!! Keep the rubber side down.

  6. cynthiac2017 says:

    Shari, what a fresh, honest profile of a very full life. Congratulations on your sobriety and your cancer-free diagnosis; it sounds like your left and right brains are doing pretty well. Here’s to a healthy, long life with a whole lot more adventures!

  7. Shari! I was so happy to read this! Although you and I were not “friends” … after all, you were a CHEERLEADER!!! 😁😁😁 but I always thought you were very nice and I always wondered about you. I connect with you now on a couple of levels and am impressed and proud and congratulate you on your sobriety AND that you are proud of it! I may I just say, all cancer sucks, but colon cancer is shitty … gotta laugh!

  8. Carla Pollard says:

    Wow Shari, what a post. Re: cancer – I followed your same path as far as diagnosis. Chemo AND radiation, with one surgery took care of it. I’ve written about my journey often,
    as you have here – certainly cathartic. Like you, I’m also livin’ the dream, lovin’ life even more so than before. I will also miss the reunion – best friend having necessary surgery back in St Louis Headed there later today 10/4.
    Sincere congratulations for having the life you live now.
    Carla Robinson Pollard

  9. Cecilia Sheehan (Aguirre) says:

    What an exciting ride you have had! Sorry you won’t be at the reunion. I so remember your beautiful smile. I now live in Bermuda Dunes and never in a million years did I think I would live in the desert. (always said I would NEVER retire here) Wishing you continued good health and happiness.

  10. Carol Thompson Walter says:

    Sorry to hear about your bout with cancer. You are a Warrior and very strong. I know too well what chemo and radiation can do to you. It is a gift that keeps on giving. You are in my thoughts and prayers. It is funny I was wondering about you and how you weren’t at the reunion. And seeing that great picture that Les posted of you and him was great, I was looking forward to seeing you both. Well I wish you the best and don’t give up. We are warriors.

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