OREM — Shari Mower knew the women in her family had a history of breast cancer, but the monthly self-examinations and conscientious mammograms triggered by that knowledge were not enough to save her.
At 8:20 a.m. Monday morning, with her husband and one of her sons at her side, Shari Mower passed away from the cancer that she found in a lump in her breast two years earlier. The Mower family was featured earlier this year as part of a Deseret Morning News look at the different ways families cope when a family member contracts cancer.
"I remember Shari saying that she was going to have a mammogram and she felt worried because she was suspicious that there was something there," said Sue Alder, a close friend and neighbor of Mower. "I didn't think much of it, but then the next day she let me know that it was really bad and really scary. I remember right when she came home I went walking with her, saying 'We are too good of friends. We haven't had enough time together. You can't die.'"
Though Mower's initial discovery was immediately taken care of by medical professionals, and she was pronounced clean by doctors, several months later the sickness returned. This time the cancer was metastatic, and much worse, having spread to her liver, spinal cord and brain.
"That's what was so surprising," Alder said. "It hadn't been that long since her last mammogram, but (the cancer) had grown so rapidly. I was shocked. And when she told me how big it was I was shocked. You would think she would have caught it but it was too quick growing."
As Alder watched Mower, her husband Mike (who is the spokesman for Provo city), and the whole family, deal with the effects of the cancer from her house across the street, she tried to do what she could to help. Members of the community contacted her for advice on how they could help, including Mayor Lewis Billings, Mike Mower's boss.
But on the inside of the Mower home, there is now an absence that Mike Mower and the four children tried so hard and for so long to avoid. Though the family talked openly with each other about the cancer and what might happen, nothing could quite prepare them for the realization of their fears.
"At the moment (Shari died), it was just an incredible shock," Mike Mower said. "On the one hand, she had been in so much pain for so long, there was a relief for her to be free from this pain. And then it was coupled with a devastating loss to realize you won't see your spouse in this world again. At times like that, one's very grateful for one's faith."
For now, Mower is relying on his faith to help his family keep moving on. And though Shari's mother also died of breast cancer, he envisions a different future for his daughter.
"We just hope that in 20 years from now there will be a cure for this dreaded disease," Mower said. "We hope a cure can be found so that our daughter can avoid the type of challenge that her mother and grandmother faced. We appreciate everything people are doing to find a cure."
Shari Mower's funeral is scheduled for today at 11 a.m. at the LDS Chapel at 1560 S. 1100 West, Provo.