I am Local 6: Shirley Petway paying it forward

Shirley Petway working on a hot summer day looks like a chore, but it’s not.

Whether it’s mowing the lawn, tending her flowers, or caring for her horses, Shirley’s husband, Randle, knows she doesn’t let any minute slip by without purpose.

But her volunteer work is what’s impressive. At West Kentucky Emergency Veterinary Service,  she’s a pro on the phone, with animals and with people.

"She wants the focus to be totally on others and not herself, and that is what makes her special," Marty Wynn says. 

Her giving heart is what people love.

"She is about as close to what you’re going to see ‘paying it forward’ as I believe you can be," Wynn says. 

"Well, I lost my sister about six years ago," Shirley recalls."She had head and neck cancer."

"I went up to Michigan, and the day I went up there she chose to go into hospice," Shirley says. Inspired by the care her sister received, Shirley volunteers with Lourdes hospice to pay it forward: first with patients and now in the office to give employees a break.

"If they can be doing something more important than this, and I can do this to help them, it’s all part of helping," she says. 

The time she has to help others may be ending soon. The 66 year old has bone, brain and lung cancer and was giving six to nine months to live, nine months ago.

"It’s scary," she says. "It is scary. I’m not going to tell you it’s not scary."

But, she adds: "As long as I’m able to get up and go, that’s what I’m going to do."

She says dedicating her time to volunteering is something a higher power may have in store for her. "I don’t think he’s ready for me yet," Shirley says. "I think he thinks I need to do something else down here."

For Shirley, that means making a difference by passing it on here on earth on places like her farm, and when she’s gone.

"Life’s too short to be miserable, Just enjoy what you’ve got, and enjoy each other," she says. 

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