When she was 26 years old and working at a nursing home, Shirley was diagnosed with TB in her collarbone.  With 3 young children and little help from her first husband, she found support from her extended family and friends.  She stated she was "locked up" in Firland TB Sanatorium for five months, and often left the premises unannounced to buy provisions for fellow residents.  Shirley later married a former Firland patient, and remains close friends with a former female patient who shared in many of her Firland experiences. 

In Shirley's words...

After I got out of the sanatorium after five months, my 2-year-old had no clue who I was. Once he figured out who I was, he did not want me to leave again. There was some abandonment fear or something in him. He finally figured out that I was his mom. Yet, when I got ready to leave the house for a short errand, he would cry so hard that he would actually pass out and fall down. But then, finally over the years, it got better.
One time, I escaped from Firland TB Sanatorium to go see a doctor who might get me out of there. My friend Bev pulled her car into a back field and put me in her trunk. She got me out a few blocks down the street. At the doctor’s office I told him my story and he said it was against the law to leave the sanatorium if you have TB.

So, we went back to Firland and on the way we stopped at a hamburger stand because their food was terrible. We bought hamburgers and milkshakes and when we went through the front gate, we told the guard we were coming in to visit with Shirley. They just waved us on, with me in the front seat, because he didn’t know who I was!

Shirley, Snohomish County