Fundraiser planned to benefit woman’s battle
LAURINBURG – Dec. 21, 2022 was one of the best days of Sharmeika McDuffie’s life.
It was the day she rang the bell signifying she had completed chemotherapy.
“That was a great feeling,” she said. “I cried. It was joyous.”
A native of Marlboro County, McDuffie lives in Laurinburg and was diagnosed with right lobular breast cancer in June of last year.
McDuffie has always kept a check on herself after benign lumps were found in both of her breasts at the age of 12.
Last year, her mammogram came back abnormal. Another mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, and MRI were done.
The biopsy showed two spots in her right breast.
Hearing the words “you have cancer” from her doctors at McLeod Health in Florence brought back memories of her brother Ricky. He died from AML leukemia in 2019.
“I kept my faith in God through it all,” she said. “And that’s making me through this whole process.”
Faith is the foundation for McDuffie and her family.
She is part of the McDuffie family gospel group. Her parents, Betty and James McDuffie Sr. had seven kids.
It was McDuffie, her brothers Rodney, James, and Laytron, her sister Marsharika, and their late brothers Derek and Ricky.
McDuffie, Rodney and Marsharika, and Derek started singing in 1985. After her three brothers James Rickey and Laytron were born, they sang as well.
It started as McDuffie Singers. Then Little Ricky and the Mighty Golden Stars. Later, it was changed to Ricky McDuffie and the Family. And after our brother Ricky passed in 2019, the group name changed to The McDuffies. The group has traveled all over the world. They have CDs and DVDs out.
“God has blessed us to travel and spread his word all over the land,” McDuffie said.
Brother Ricky died in 2019 and Derrick died on Labor Day of 2021.
“We’ve lost two siblings, but we still keeping it going,” McDuffie said. “Obstacles may come, but we still keep it going. Even with my diagnosis, the family’s still going forth, singing and spreading God’s word.”
Once diagnosed, McDuffie was given two options – a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. She chose to have her right breast removed on Sept. 1. Three lymph nodes were removed from under her right arm.
Then she started chemotherapy. The first drug was too strong, and doctors had to stop it because McDuffie had a bad reaction.
Two weeks later, they tried another set of drugs that worked.
McDuffie did four rounds of chemo every two weeks.
“Chemo was rough,” she said. “I lost all my hair after the second treatment. My cousin Buffy, who lives in Bennettsville, made me this wig that I have on.”
McDuffie added she lost her appetite, was very fatigue while doing the treatment, and has dark spots on her fingernails and feet, and dry skin.
“I thank God I made it because it was the roughest thing,” she said. “My doctors said I made it through the rough part.”
McDuffie has been told the radiation won’t be as bad as the chemotherapy.
“I didn’t want to lose my breast, but I wanted to live,” she said. “The most important thing is to be here still.”
One of three lymph nodes was positive so this is why she will have to do radiation, which will probably start the first week of February. After radiation, she will have reconstructive surgery for her breast.
McDuffie will have to take a chemo pill every day for five years.
“The journey hasn’t been easy, but I just thank God for keeping me,” she said.
A benefit concert will be held for McDuffie at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Lumberton Junior High School, 82 Marion Road in Lumberton.
Admission is free, but everyone is asked to bring a monetary gift for her.
McDuffie hasn’t worked since August 31st of last year, and doctors won’t let her return until she is finished with everything.
“Two people – Patricia Crawford and Lamanuel Boykins – got it upon their heart to put this benefit on for me,” she said.
Admission is free, but organizers are asking everybody to give a monetary gift. If a person is unable to attend, they can cash app McDuffie at $sharmeikamcduffie.
“God laid it on their heart, and those groups that coming to participate are not asking for anything,” she said. “They coming just to be a blessing as well.”
The concert will feature special appearances by Pastor Luther Barnes & The McDonald Sisters, The McDuffies, Pat Crawford & One Spirit, Michael Boykin & The Mighty Voices, Lamanuel Boykin & Company, Tina Hunt & Family Devotion, Resurrection, Josh & The Anointed Voices, and The Dowdy Boys.
For more information, call 910-774-6149 or 910-465-9048.
McDuffie encouraged people to come to the benefit.
“Don’t only come out to be a blessing but come out to be blessed,” she said. “I’m expecting a good time in the Lord.”
McDuffie feels blessed because she not only completed chemotherapy but celebrated her birthday on Jan. 14.
She is grateful for the support from her parents, siblings, her two sons, Tyreece Williams, 17, and Tyreek Williams, 22, and close friends.
“Cancer is a very life-changing experience,” she said.
Jacqueline Hough is the Editor of the Herald-Advocate in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Contact her at [email protected] or 843-479-3815.