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Sherrys Run participants reach record number and still counting

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Monies raised to aid local cancer patients

The upcoming “Sherry’s Run (5k Run/Walk)” slated for Saturday, Sept. 12 is poised to be the largest in terms of participants and teams. 

 “The Wilson County Fair isn’t the only local event that is breaking records for participation -- as of today (Tuesday), ‘Sherry’s Run’ had over 2,300 participants registered and over 73 teams participating. We are thrilled with the tremendous response and feel fortunate that the money raised will help those folks in our community who are hurting,” said Tonyia Watson, co-chair and board member of “Sherry’s Run.”

“We receive calls daily asking for help from ‘Sherry’s Run.’ If cancer isn’t enough of a worry, the financial trouble it brings is monumental,” she added. “When faced with cancer – the worry of how I can afford the needed test, or procedure, or surgery or prescription; or how can I pay for my house, or groceries or utilities, when I cannot work any longer due to my illness, is overwhelming.” 

The following are a few of the stories from cancer patients being helped by “Sherry’s Run”:

Emilie Brewer

When Emilie Brewer took a prescription from her oncologist to the pharmacy, she walked away empty handed. Although Emilie, who is in her early 60s, has insurance, she couldn’t afford the $300 co-pay for the very expensive drug.

Disheartened that she couldn’t afford the medicine her doctor said she needed to treat the cancer, Emilie called his office and told the staff, “I can’t take that medicine. I can’t afford it. You’ll have to give me something else.”

The nurse told Emilie she didn’t think there was any other drug that could be substituted, but asked Emilie to stay on hold. In a moment, Lisa O’Guinn, who works at Tennessee Oncology and serves as the office’s liaison for “Sherry’s Run,” came on the line.

“Go back to the pharmacy and get your medicine. I contacted ‘Sherry’s Run’ about your situation and they will take care of the co-pay for you,” Lisa told Emilie.

Flooded with relief at not having to do without the medication she needed, Emilie returned to the pharmacy at Walmart (she works in sporting goods there), and got her medicine. “Every three weeks or so, ‘Sherry’s Run’ would call the pharmacy and tell them to go ahead and fill my prescription and they would take care of the co-pay.”

That was back in 2008, but Emilie has been battling cancer much longer than that.“It started out as breast cancer in 2002, then in 2006 I was diagnosed with it in my liver – it’s still called breast cancer, but it showed up in my liver and a few spots in the bone,” Emilie said.“I’m doing good. I feel very blessed. I’m able to work, and I’ve had a lot of prayers going up for me throughout this,” Emilie added.

“Sherry’s Run” paid the $300 co-pay a few times before Emilie met the deductible on her insurance, at which time the medication was fully covered by insurance. But she can’t imagine what would have happened if “Sherry’s Run” had not come to her aid in her time of need.

“If it hadn’t been for ‘Sherry’s Run,’ I would probably have been depressed over the bills – let this bill go to buy my medicine, or let that bill go. I probably wouldn’t have been able to buy the medicine. I would have had to go another route.” she said. “And I know they will be there if I need them again. It does give you peace of mind.”

Emilie is fortunate to have family to support and encourage her. She lives in Norene and shares a home with her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

When she found out “Sherry’s Run” would help pay for her medicine, Emilie was surprised. While she had heard of “Sherry’s Run,” she thought the program’s focus was on raising money to fund research for a cure for cancer – not to actually step in and help pay for drugs for cancer patients.

“I had no idea. I just thought they collected money for research for colon cancer,” she comments. “They do so many wonderful things.”

Emilie encourages people to get involved and support “Sherry’s Run,” because “If people were aware of how things change when you get cancer, things that we take for granted, I think they would be glad to participate in ‘Sherry’s Run’ – whether through making a donation or participating in the run.

“I tell the people I work with and go to church with what ‘Sherry’s Run’ has done for me. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m very grateful,” Emilie added.

W. Turk

Riding his Harley Davidson was W. Turk’s favorite pastime. But now, he’s trying to sell his beloved bike. He isn’t able to take the long rides he used to and can’t afford to continue to make the payments. The ardent biker said he has held onto the bike a lot longer than he would have, thanks to help from his family, who knows how much it means to him. “My life is my Harley Davidson,” he said.

“Turk,” as he is known to friends, has found help in other places as well.

“Sherry’s Run,” for example, came to his aid after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in February 2008.

“I’m in my 18th month,” Turk said of his battle with the devastating illness.

He has taken several different medications, and his co-pay often was around $50 – more than he could afford, since he hasn’t been able to work since he was diagnosed.

“I had gotten off work, and I went for a ride on my bike,” Turk recalled of that fateful day.

After returning to his Lebanon home, Turk bent down to lift a steel plate he used as a ramp to wheel the Harley onto.

“When I picked it up, it hurt like heck,” he said. “I put the Harley in the shed and closed the door. Then I felt something running down my leg, and touched the back of my pants. It was blood.”

Turk, who was 44 years old, drove himself to the hospital, and was sent for an emergency colonoscopy the very next morning. In less than a week, he went into surgery.

“I’d never had any drugs in my life until that day,” Turk commented.

What was supposed to have been fairly limited surgery turned major quickly when the surgeon found much more cancer than the colonoscopy had revealed. When it was over, the physician and his surgical team had removed more than a foot of Turk’s colon.

Turk was introduced to “Sherry’s Run” “when I got flat broke,” he said. “They helped me get my medication, which I couldn’t afford. And they helped me with gas money to get around town to my doctor’s appointments.”

When he ran out of money, Turk said, “I told them down at the chemo place that I couldn’t afford the medicine. That’s how I found out about ‘Sherry’s Run.’”

Without “Sherry’s Run,” Turk said he would have “had to go without. They picked up what insurance didn’t cover.” He said if it weren’t for “Sherry’s Run,” he would be picking out a casket.

“A lot of people with cancer simply cannot afford their needed prescriptions,” he said.  “My family kept my insurance up, and if not for ‘Sherry’s Run,’ I still couldn’t have made the co-pay. My family can’t handle the burden of all the medical expenses.”

Patricia Shaver

Patricia Shaver of Lebanon got a devastating diagnosis in December 2008: stage four colon cancer. With no insurance, Patricia faced not only a battle with cancer, but a terrible financial strain.

She found out about “Sherry’s Run” from Tennessee Oncology.

“The medicine is very expensive,” said Patricia, who is now at home on Hospice Care. “Sherry’s Run” helped her throughout her fight with cancer by paying for medications.

Despite her bleak diagnosis, Patricia said knowing Sherry’s Run was there to help and encourage her was a relief.

“If I hadn’t gotten cancer, I wouldn’t have met all these wonderful people who work with ‘Sherry’s Run,’” Patricia said. “They helped me a lot.”

Patricia said getting to talk with people involved with the organization – like Lisa O’Guinn at Tennessee Oncology – helped her through rough times. “She’s so friendly. She always takes the time to talk with you.”

Gary Whitaker, “Sherry’s Run” board member, said, “Within our community there are a lot of big hearts that want to do something to help someone else – “Sherry's Run” helps put those connections together to make a significant difference in the lives of those who are hurting. If we can help one person in the whole world it will be worth it; because, one person is the whole world to somebody.”

To help make a difference, please join everyone for the sixth annual “Sherry’s Run” scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12, at 8 a.m. in Lebanon, beside the main office of Wilson Bank & Trust, 623 West Main Street. Make a commitment to become involved this year. 

The mission of Sherry’s Run is to benefit those affected by cancer, with an emphasis on colon cancer. “Sherry’s Run” (www.sherrysrun.org) is a 501 (c) (3) organization. It was started in memory of Sharon “Sherry” Patterson Whitaker who died at the age of 44 from colon cancer. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online. Funds received serve also to help those locally who suffer with cancer. For more information on “Sherry’s Run,” call (615) 975-1081 or (615) 218-8810 or visit online.

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