Sherry’s Run Helps Bring Hope for a Better Year to the Harvill Family
If anyone is glad to turn the page on 2010 and throw away last year’s calendar, it’s Mellody Harvill. But even for her, there are parts to be remembered fondly.
It was a year ago in December that Harvill, suspecting that she had pneumonia, visited her primary care doctor. She was admitted to the hospital, and learned that she had a growth in her chest that required further testing.
January 2010 was the start of what would be a horrifying year, as she received life-changing news: the growth was a cancerous tumor. She had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And the location of the tumor, behind her heart, prevented its removal through surgery.
From that point, instead of numbers on the calendar, the next several months could be measured in chemo and radiation treatments, doctor visits, hospital stays and, above all, reasons to worry.
Treatments succeeded in shrinking the tumor, but also wreaked havoc within her body. Severe sickness led to several hospital stays, and even when she was able to function it seemed Mellody always had to see another doctor or get another prescription filled.
It wasn’t only the sickness and chaos that became overwhelming to Mellody as she underwent treatments. She had a very understanding employer and supportive co-workers at Performance Food Group, but she had to go on disability immediately when her disaster struck. Missing work almost constantly caused money to become another problem. Between the hospital stays, treatments and appointments, on top of the rigors of raising her two teenage daughters, Mellody fell into debt, which only boosted the anxiety life had all at once brought upon her.
Knowing Mellody’s circumstances, a group of female co-workers contacted co-worker & Sherry’s Run volunteer Mike Johnson, who relayed a message to board member Tonyia Watson. Watson paid a visit, and a relationship with Sherry’s Run began for Mellody – but not without some hesitation.
“I felt horrible about taking any kind of charity, in part because it seemed like doing that meant admitting I was defeated by cancer,” Mellody said.
The expenses continued to mount in relation to her smaller paychecks, however, and she also came to understand the real intent of Sherry’s Run.
“I reached a humbling point where I had no choice but to accept their help. Once I did, it was like the heavens parted. We had so much love and support. From finances, to referrals, to just having a shoulder ready to cry on, they were there for me.”
Like many other area cancer patients, Mellody experienced the full reach of Sherry’s Run in 2010: genuine emotional support; assistance with expenses like groceries, utilities, transportation, prescriptions and co-pays; and connections to people that could offer help in other areas. The result was an ability to get back on her feet – a gradual overcoming of emotional and financial obstacles to match her physical recovery from the deadly disease.
Almost exactly a year from the time her life took a downward turn, Mellody has much to look forward in 2011. The tumor is gone, and her cancer is in remission. She is back to work full-time, on more stable ground financially, and still is able to care for her family. And despite all that seemed to go wrong in 2010, there’s at least one thing she won’t mind remembering about the tumultuous year.
“My love goes out to everyone who keeps Sherry’s Run going and to all who support it. They helped keep my family bonded through a time that was very difficult for us.”
Mellody is just one of hundreds of local cancer patients Sherry’s Run helped during the past year because thousands of local supporters donated time, money or both, according to Watson.
“Hope is something you can’t buy, but every time we help someone through Sherry’s Run, we have proof that it can be given,” Watson said. “Every penny given to Sherry’s Run makes a difference, because it goes directly to provide assistance for a patient in need.”
The mission of Sherry’s Run is to benefit those affected by cancer, with an emphasis on colon cancer. Sherry’s Run will help any family affected by any type of cancer that lives, works, goes to church or seeks treatment in Wilson County or the surrounding communities, and that has a true need. To learn more about Sherry’s Run or to refer someone who might qualify for assistance, please call (615) 975-1081 or (615) 735-9488 or visit www.sherrysrun.org.
Sherry’s Run is scheduled for September 10, 2011 at 8 a.m. – sign up today!
The mission of Sherry’s Run is to benefit those affected by cancer, with an emphasis on colon cancer. Sherry’s Run will help any family affected by any kind of cancer that lives, works, goes to church or seeks treatment in Wilson County or our surrounding communities that has a true need. 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. For more information on Sherry’s Run, please call 615-975-1081 or 615-735-9488 or visit online.