Mrs. Sal CheemaPosted on: 02/10/2020
On Tuesday this week, our community came together as staff and parents paid tribute to Mrs. Sal Cheema, who made her final journey from Parkway surrounded by family and friends. Mrs. Cheema very sadly passed away last week, having lived with cancer for many years. She and her family have been members of the St. Helen’s College community since their oldest son Suraj joined us back in September 2008, with their youngest son Amar joining the school a few years later in September 2011.
Mrs. Cheema was one of the most inspirational women I have ever met and I know that everyone who knew her has been touched by her courage and selflessness over the years. She embraced every day to ensure that her boys were happy and she and Mr. Cheema are such amazing role models to us all in how to live alongside cancer and not allow a disease to take over one’s life.
Back in September 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Cheema joined with five other couples to work alongside the national Breast Cancer Now campaign and they raised awareness through sponsorship with Marks and Spencer, appearing on posters in store and nationwide via social media. Amar, then in Year 5, delivered the most heartwarming assembly to the Upper School children about his experience of his family living with cancer. The sense of pride he showed that day in assembly as his mum filmed him from the side of the hall will never be forgotten.
Mrs. Cheema also started to blog about her life online, in a blog very aptly named ‘My Beautiful Life’, which carried a strap line encapsulating both her upbeat attitude and her intrinsic values:
If the risk of getting cancer in a lifetime is 1 in 2 and I have had cancer twice, I believe I have taken one for the team. You are very welcome!
Her blog is raw and emotional but also joyful and always full of hope, with her boys and husband an integral part of her writing. I have shared Mrs. Cheema’s blog with many family members and friends over the past few years; she brings a sense of reality to those who read it and an appreciation for the gratitude we should all feel. Her words and her attitudes remind us to live every day in the best way we can.
Mrs. Cheema was also involved in other fundraising activities throughout her illness. She supported the Willow Foundation back in 2016 and then in 2018 raised the profile of the Noah’s Ark Hospice. Most recently, in September 2019, she organised a 12 hour walk around Hillingdon Athletics Stadium to raise money for AMMF, the UK’s only bile duct cancer charity. Family, friends and staff joined together on this day and, yet again, Mrs. Cheema’s endless positivity and stoicism shone through.
Mrs. Cheema was also Chair of the Parents’ Association at St. Helen’s College and the family were always keen supporters of school events. In the summer of 2019, we were delighted that Mr. and Mrs. Cheema joined us as our Guests of Honour for Amar’s last Sports Day at St. Helen’s College. It was a wonderful day, during which Mr. and Mrs. Crehan and I were able to reminisce with them about the boys’ days at St. Helen’s College and to thank them for all that they had done to support the school over the years. It took a lot to stop Mrs. Cheema from participating in the mums’ race, but thankfully she had forgotten her running shoes! The photographs I have shared above are from that wonderful day.
Mr. Cheema has now launched a just giving page in memory of his wife to raise funds for the Michael Sobell Hospice. If you would like to join the community in donating in memory of Mrs. Cheema please follow the link here.
Mrs. Cheema’s values have always been the shared values of our school community. She will be dearly missed by us all and our heartfelt condolences go to her whole family. She has taught us all so many life lessons and her memory will live on through her wonderful boys and husband.