Caped crusader: Breast cancer survivor aims to save the world, one person at a time



teresa shockley dewey goes pink

Breast cancer survivor Teresa Shockley, left, with some of her Team Teresa teammates at last year’s Dewey Goes Pink event.

FRANKFORD – If she could, Teresa Shockley would save the world.

That’s mission impossible.

So she does the next best thing.

“I tell people I wear my ‘Save the World’ cape. I know that it is not realistic and that one person can’t do it but if I can start it, and other people help then the world is definitely a better place,” said Ms. Shockley.

With limited financial resources and a small army of friends and social media connections – including Sussex Central High School Class of 1980 classmates – the 53-year-old Frankford woman goes out of her way to make the world a better place each and every day, even if it’s just one person.

Positive waves are her rule, not the exception.

Ms. Shockley turned a February 2014 breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent lumpectomy into an ongoing crusade for early detection through routine mammograms.

“It gave me like an awakening,” said Ms. Shockley. “You start choosing how you want to spend your life. I thought I did that before, but really I didn’t. You start thinking about who you want to spend your life, your circle of friends. Material things are like nothing to me. And money is nothing to me … because I don’t have any.  It was a blessing and a curse; more blessing to me because it definitely gave me a new look.”

In early August a biopsy revealed skin cancer that will likely necessitate nose surgery.

“It will remind people to wear sunscreen,” she said. “There is always a positive.”

Her response to diagnosis: with the help of Eddie Shockley – her husband of 35 years – turning the bountiful harvest from The Shockley Garden in rural Frankford into of jars of relish and spaghetti sauce.

Medical issues aside, Ms. Shockley works part-time at Cozy Critters day-care. One of her passions is teaching little girls how to crochet.

“It has been a very rewarding summer doing that,” she said.

She’s a devoted advocate of breast cancer awareness whose mission is contagious. Her Team Teresa was a noticeable force at last year’s Dewey Goes Pink 5K.

“Last year we had 122 people on my team. We actually took a bus to do it. And we got the trophy for the most people,” she said.

This October, Team Teresa – backed by friends and associates at RACC Fitness in Roxana – plans to return with hopes of not only having the most team members but also raising the most money supporting the battle against breast cancer.

Ms. Shockley heart bleeds red, white and blue for America’s military.

To show her gratitude, she participates in Blankets of Hope.

“I am so thankful for our veterans,” she said.

Ms. Shockley says her volunteerism and desire to help others stem from a team theme prominent in friends, family and classmates.

“Nothing that I do I do alone,” said Ms. Shockley. “The breast cancer, I had Tina Timmons. My sister Eleanor never left me. My niece took me to radiation. She would bring three yellow roses which were my mom’s favorite.  We did that every Wednesday.”

Through a cousin connection with Stein Highway Church of God’s Code Purple initiative in Seaford, Ms. Shockley answered the call to help feed a need.

“The thing about Facebook is I have such a great group of people. There are people out there that they want to help. They just don’t know how to get started. When we did the meals, I might have cooked it, but we had people donating the bread, or making the dessert, or buying napkins or cups,” said Ms. Shockley. “So it’s not just me. It’s the community.

No matter what I have done I’ve had several people help me, step up to the plate and help me. I always tell people I am a better me when I am helping someone else.”

To help the Special Olympics cause, she has taken the plunge several times in the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge.

With help of others, she was done suitcases for foster kids “which is one of my favorite projects.”

She is forever connected to numerous classmates from Sussex Central’s Class of 1980.

“They are absolutely some of the best people I’ve ever been around. One of my girlfriends that I went to school with was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went with her to her surgeon/doctor’s appointment. I said, ‘I’m going to get you through this first week of radiation.’ We were sitting there one day. I looked around, and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I really need to go get my mammogram.’ I was late. I went, and of course then you get the call … the letter. They told me it was cancer. It was kind of like we went through it together. It was really scary.”

Her brush with breast cancer is shared on social media.

“I’m pretty much an open book. If I think that it is going to help somebody – which it did. I got so many emails and messages from women who have gone to get their mammograms,” Ms. Shockley said.

She and classmates teamed up to build a handicap ramp for a very ill classmate, who unfortunately has since passed.

“We built that ramp one Saturday in four hours,” said Ms. Shockley. “It was incredible. She was so, so happy. A classmate made a plaque: The Ramp That Love Built.”

“We just represented a small portion of our class. I mean if they didn’t send money, they were praying and sending well wishes. They have such compassion,” said Ms. Shockley. “When I went through breast cancer they were some of my biggest supporters. When I did my first breast cancer walk at the Outlets I had classmates walk with me. I was on my fifth week of radiation; what I was thinking I don’t know; why I thought I could walk it but I was determined. Well, they never left my side. They didn’t walk in front of me. They didn’t walk behind me. They walked beside me.”

For Ms. Shockley, every waking day is a blessing.

Her outlook on life stems in part from words of a school friend.

teresa shockley The Dash

One of Teresa Shockley’s favorite readings is the poem entitled “The Dash.”

“A friend told me if it doesn’t matter 100 years from now, it doesn’t matter. If your dishes don’t get done 100 years from now nobody is going to care,” said Ms. Shockley. “But what you’re doing putting your story out there, if you save that one woman, and she has her mammogram, 100 years from now she is going to have kids, her kids are going have kids and their kids are going to have kids. So you’ve made a difference. I kind of try to live by that and think by that.

One of her treasured keepsakes is The Dash – a poem.

“It basically talks about filling ‘The Dash.’  The date of your birth and date of your death are not what’s important. It’s that dash, how lived your life,” said Ms. Shockley. “That’s so true. I want them to remember what I did. It’s like I want them to remember the hats that I’ve crocheted; the food that I fed people. I’m just the average person but if it makes one person say, ‘Look at Teresa, if she can do it I can do it.’”

Ms. Shockley is a very proud mother. Her son, Frank Shockley, 29, donated a portion of his summer break halfway around the globe in Macedonia working with Habitat for Humanity International. He returns to work this school year as the guidance counselor at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, having been a history teacher at Indian River High School the previous three years.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Ms. Shockley. “I am not crazy about him flying that far away, but he makes me very proud.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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