Don Walker is a husband, father, grandfather, driving and safety instructor, Christian and retired member of the U.S. Coast Guard, but perhaps the best word to describe him is encourager.
Walker, 63, of Lebanon, was diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer in September 2013, but his spirit and attitude have remained positive.
When his wife, Kim Walker, first submitted the paperwork to become a Sherry’s Run patient, she said she was unsure what to expect, but she realized the support from Sherry’s Run goes far beyond helping to pay the bills.
“It was such a relief just knowing someone was there to guide you,” said Kim Walker.
“We are able to provide so much more than just financial assistance to patients, said Tonyia Watson, director of patient assistance. “We offer guidance through obstacles that patients may not be equipped to handle. Through our many community resources, we help patients navigate while offering them encouragement and support. We want each family to know that we truly care about them.”
Because Don Walker’s cancer was already at a stage three, he immediately began 12 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.
“At first I was fine,” Don Walker said. “Every time I went in for a treatment I would try to shake hands with the other patients and lift their spirits a little.”
Kim Walker even made awareness ribbons, bracelets and bookmarks to hand out at each of their visits.
“It’s so important to keep a positive attitude,” said Don Walker.
As the treatments continued, Don Walker began to feel very sick.
“When you’re that sick, you can’t think about anything except what is going on with your body,” said Don Walker. “That is why it was such a blessing to talk with Tonyia. She was so peaceful, caring and calm.”
The encouragement goes both ways, according to Watson.
“It is such a blessing to be able to offer assistance to the Walkers,” Watson said. “My greatest joy is in seeing the positive attitudes and faith they have shown during this battle.”
The Walkers spoke about the support they received from friends and family.
“It is unbelievable how many people in this community support Sherry’s Run,” Kim Walker said. “We are definitely walking this year. We just want to be a part of what Sherry’s Run is doing.”
Everyone has an opportunity to be a part of what Sherry’s Run is doing for people like the Walkers in September.
The 11th annual Sherry’s Run is scheduled for Sept. 13 at 8 a.m. at 623 W. Main St. in Lebanon. Registration is currently open and available at sherrysrun.org.
“Your support allows us to assist cancer patients 52 weeks a year with gas, groceries, utility bills, housing payments, prescription assistance, health insurance premiums, medical bills and colonoscopy assistance,” said Watson.
To learn more about Sherry’s Run, call 615-925-2592. To refer someone who might qualify for assistance, call 615-925-9932 or visit sherrysrun.org.