HomeLiving Out LoudLiving Out Loud: My Friend Shari Leid

Living Out Loud: My Friend Shari Leid

Surviving Cancer & A Peek Inside This Imperfectly Perfect Life.

I met Shari four years ago in a small, dark room on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It was a cold December evening when I arrived at the venue Shari had invited me to even though we had not met prior to that night. When I entered the room, there were six other people already present, a birthday cake with a full-on microphone coming out it, the music was blaring, food and drink were on the table, and someone was attempting to a sing Janet Jackson or a Salt-N-Pepa 1990’s classic hit. 

We were at a Japanese style karaoke bar with private rooms where you enjoy snacks, drinks, and your friends as you get a little louder and more off key the later it gets. Also, as the night wears on, more libations are consumed and the braver you become as the inhibitions about singing badly in front of people you don’t know are soon washed away. Shari had invited me to this small, dark karaoke room in celebration of a mutual friend’s 40th birthday. A bit later, three more people I didn’t know joined us in that small room to celebrate the birthday girl. 


Introducing Shari: A True Friend

Upon first meeting Shari, I observed a woman who was well put together. She had on a casual, cute outfit; her hair was coiffed perfectly, and her makeup was impeccably applied. She was the host for the evening, but came across as somewhat aloof initially. As we continued the intimate party, she loosened up and even got her karaoke on after repeatedly proclaiming that she doesn’t sing well. That’s the point of karaoke: nobody really sings all that well, but it’s all in good fun. However, in a room full of mostly strangers, it can be an intimidating endeavor.

What I came to realize by the end of that evening—in that small, dark room—is that Shari loved our mutual friend and made sure the birthday girl, and all of the guests, had a good time.  

Before Cancer

Shari and I saw one another several more times, usually in big groups with other women over happy hour or dinner, while seeing a play, and at a couple of house parties that Shari hosted in her beautiful home.

Shari knows how to throw a party! There’s usually a theme and every detail is thoughtfully considered, from valet parking, food and drink, and something for all to enjoy from a certified lip print reader (lip print interpretation that assesses personality characteristics) to a craps table, and a DJ spinning old school hip hop in her garage.

Every time Shari and I saw one another there were a few things that were consistent. Shari had on a cute outfit, her makeup was flawlessly applied, she made me laugh, and we learned a little bit more about one another’s history and current life events. Here’s what I know to be true about my friend, Shari: she’s incredibly smart and she’s a lawyer by training, but currently works as the Executive Director/Family Manager/Domestic Goddess for her husband and two teenaged children. Additionally, she will soon become a Certified Life Coach. Shari’s got a dry sense of humor (which I love), she’s obsessed with John Legend, likes her whiskey neat, and has a generous, indomitable spirit.


Cancer: Her Grace & The Diagnosis 

In 2017, Shari was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her generous spirit was on full display as she fought this awful disease. She shared her journey with her friends and family via Facebook, documenting doctor’s visits, sharing photos of some of the treatments she had to undergo, and reflecting honestly and often with humor that the journey wasn’t easy. Even still, she remained hopeful, grateful, and kept us laughing.

An example of Shari’s wit in the midst of the storm was a post she made about going in for a 5-6 hour appointment at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. This is where whether or not she would be able to keep her dark, beautiful, black tresses would be determined. She made mention that she was wearing waterproof mascara, and mused that she didn’t want to lose her hair, but if that were the case, she was certain she would survive because, she writes, “I lived through 80’s hair, Brittany (Spears) made it through her 2007 hair, and If I don’t have to experience that aspect of cancer, I’ll consider myself extremely lucky, which will probably also result in being glad I’m wearing waterproof mascara today.”


F*CK Cancer

I have known many people who have suffered from breast cancer. Several years ago, a dear family friend died soon after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Cancer is a thief, it can rob people of their strength, desire to eat, joy, energy—and in the worst case scenario—their life. 

Shari said “f*ck cancer” by literally purchasing gear with that sentiment and then sitting for a photo shoot. She wrote about what she was going through, remained grateful, and now, over a dozen surgeries later, she is on the path to recovery and has remained a beacon of hope and embodies what living with grace, humor, and gratitude looks like for those of us who are blessed enough to call her a friend.  

50 Dates with Girlfriends

In October of last year Shari sent me a message letting me know that she will be conducting “50 dates with girlfriends” during the time between her 49th and 50th birthdays..I immediately thought,what  a cool idea.” She explained that the women she had chosen to date during this year are those whom she finds fascinating for some reason or another. She wants to use the opportunity to pose some intentional and specific questions because she believes she could learn from them all.  

Shari advised that she would be snapping a selfie with her date, along with their shoes, for a photo album. Now, aside from the fact that I’ve not had a date in some time, I was absolutely flattered that Shari believed she could learn something from me. I was certain the exchange of knowledge would go both ways, and I was right!

I was date number 4 on December 11th of last year. Shari led with the observation that all of us meet strangers, but I tend to draw strangers to me and really see people. Her takeaway was that she too would like to be more mindful of others and begin to acknowledge and really see them, even if it’s just with a smile from across the room.  

Imperfectly Perfect Life: The Book

We all have a story to tell, and I was thrilled to learn that Shari is planning to share hers, along with the knowledge she’s gained from her 50 dates, in a book with the working title of  “Imperfectly Perfect Life.”  

Many others will have the opportunity to hear from Shari, and see through her unique lens. I suspect some of what folks will learn is the power of female friendships, that struggles are real in everyday life, even for those that seem to have it all, and how a sense of humor, grateful heart, and the love of friends and family can get one through even the most difficult of circumstance—including f*ucked up cancer!


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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.