A Symbol of Hope
Tracy Underwood, who owns A.J.’s Florist with her mother Marcia Pruitte, has always loved seeing green bows hanging in support of Sherry’s Run throughout our community. As a long time run participant and bow-making volunteer, she knows that those green bows represent hope, that our town fights with those who are fighting cancer. Little did she know that in 2019, just two weeks after finishing tying a batch of bows for Sherry’s Run, it would be her family’s turn to receive that hope.
In October 2019, Tracy’s husband, Michael, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. “Our world came to a stop and we were blindsided,” says Tracy. The couple turned immediately to their faith and to prayer. “We were so scared and didn’t know what to expect. I was worried about work, finances, and all the holidays that were coming soon.” Michael’s doctors at Vanderbilt came up with a treatment plan which included 30 rounds of radiation and 6 rounds of chemotherapy. “We were so scared with all the treatments and Michael’s immune system being so fragile,” says Tracy. “We were headed right into flu season, and he was weak. He battled to be able to eat and swallow food.”
The family had made a paper link prayer chain with words of encouragement for Michael, and every time he had a treatment, he cut a piece of it off as a countdown. As the chain got smaller, the family looked forward to Michael’s treatments being over. Throughout his treatments Sherry’s Run was able to help the Underwoods with groceries, mortgage payments, and medical bills. It was not lost on Tracy that the organization she had lovingly poured into with the making of green bows in the months before was the very ministry providing help for her family.
Even after all the treatments were complete, it took many weeks for Michael to recover his strength. They continued to lean on their faith, their church family, and each other. Three months after his treatments were complete, Michael underwent a scan which showed that Michael’s cancer was completely gone. In July 2020, Michael had another CT scan which confirmed that all the cancer is gone, and he was pronounced cancer free!
One might think this journey would come to a close here, but Tracy Underwood is not the type to stop giving back. Before Michael’s cancer diagnosis, Tracy had planned on donating a kidney to a friend who was in kidney failure. The transplant was postponed; Tracy needed to know her husband was ok before she could proceed. On July 7, 2020, she was finally able to donate her kidney to her friend. The transplant went well, both Tracy and the recipient are recovering, and the kidney in the recipient is working beautifully. “Our faith, family, church and Sherry’s Run are the reasons we are able to keep our heads lifted and our hearts full of love,” she says. Tracy looks forward to the day she is fully recovered from donating the kidney and able to return to making green bows for Sherry’s Run. “My heart has always been with Sherry’s Run when I make bows for them. But now when I make them, I will always remember that they helped us while we were facing the unknown.”
Although the Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk will be virtual this year, you can still show your support by helping Paint the Town Green for Sherry’s Run! Bows are available at the Sherry’s Run Office, located at 110 Babb Drive from 10:00-2:00 every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The recommended donation price for the bows is $10.00, and any donation to Sherry’s Run benefits families in our community like the Underwoods who are battling cancer.
Sherry’s Run is a non-profit organization that works throughout the year to provide hope to those battling cancer in our community by offering emotional encouragement and financial assistance with everyday needs. In addition, Sherry’s Run works to spread colon health awareness by distributing colon cancer screening tests and providing colonoscopy assistance. To find out more or make a donation, please call 615-925-2592 or visit www.sherryshope.org.