Nothing for Granted
Sheree Hoffman accentuates the positive—even about her battles with cancer
Published in 2022 Mid-South Super Lawyers magazine
By Jim Walsh on November 28, 2022
Sheree Hoffman has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice, necessitating a lumpectomy, infusions, radiation therapy, diagnostic ultrasounds, mastectomy and breast reconstruction, as well as drastic changes to her life and family law practice in Memphis.
But you’d never guess it from the optimistic lilt in her voice.
“Honestly, I was one of those people who was lucky to be born with a positive attitude,” she says. “I really mean that. I don’t concentrate on the negative, always concentrate on the positive, the glass is always half full. I’m that way with my clients, and I’m that way with my family and friends.”
She says she needed all that positivity when she was first diagnosed in 1999, at age 42, after a mammogram. “I had little kids, and my first thought was, ‘Am I going to die?’ Luckily it was a very early diagnosis. I became a huge mammogram cheerleader after that.”
When pressed to come up with the most negative aspect of the experience, she admits radiation during her first bout tired her and chemotherapy during her second tested her positive spirit. “I remember something Judge Gina Higgins told me,” she says. “We were sitting in her chambers, we had a very contentious case going on, and I told her I had to start chemo and we’d have to put this case off a little bit. She was so kind. She said to me, ‘You’re not going to be able to do many of the things you’ve done before for a while. You’re going to have to be careful shaking hands and hugging people. I know you’re a big hugger.’”
Support from her husband, Jeff Bloomfield, and children Jenna and Kevin, was crucial. During her roughest patches, especially after she was rediagnosed with a more aggressive form of breast cancer in 2017, her office team, led by paralegal Kim Wall, and the Memphis legal community rallied to her side.
“The family law community is pretty amazing,” she says. “We all know each other. It’s a pretty close-knit group. And even though we all have to zealously advocate for our clients—and sometimes that means we’re fighting with each other or arguing with each other—when somebody needs help, there’s a pool. Anytime I needed a continuance, anytime I needed somebody to go to court for me, it was not a problem to find somebody to do that.
“My paralegal now for almost 20 years, Kim Wall, was always putting [positive] signs on my door at work, always bringing me little gifts. She held down the office. And I’ll never forget this: I lost my hair and I had been wearing a wig. I hated my wig. So one day I was going into court and I just decided not to wear the wig. I said, ‘I’m just gonna not worry about the wig today. I’m gonna be brave.’ And so I did, and it was hard, but when I poked my head into the courtroom door, Judge Nancy Kessler, a juvenile court magistrate and cancer survivor, saw me and said, ‘Come in here, you look beautiful.’”
Hoffman’s cancer journey continues to affect her life and work philosophy.
“I’m never taking anything for granted,” she says. “I know that sounds like something that everybody and anybody would say, but it’s not just because of a cancer diagnosis. A lot of times it’s struck me in [work] situations I’ve had to deal with: somebody losing a child, or a marriage ending. Divorce is hard, and not everybody has a positive attitude. So I try to listen to people and give them the best professional advice.
And in doing that, I can also draw from my personal experience.
“You know what makes me happiest now?” she adds. “My little eight-month-old granddaughter Edith. She’s my first biological grandchild and I’m so grateful. That’s another thing that’s kept me going—just being grateful.” s
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