Many people in Wilson County know Gabby Aulds’ name because she was on their prayer chain at some point. Her name means “God is my strength” and God is certainly the star of Gabby’s story.

Her mother, Melissa, credits God with the fact that they discovered Gabby’s cancer back in December 2018. Gabby was in first grade then and injured her leg on the slide.

“She’s a little dramatic,” Melissa laughed, “so we didn’t know how seriously to take this at first, but I watched her. The limp was real and I could tell something was wrong.”

A routine X-ray didn’t detect any problems, but the doctor told them to return the following week if it was still painful. Right after that, Gabby fell at school.

“She was in a long Disney dress, so I thought maybe she tripped,” Melissa said. They took her to Mt. Juliet for an MRI. “Afterwards,” Melissa said, “the tech person hugged me. Now I know why.”

That evening, Gabby was preparing for a Christmas concert and her doctor called Melissa’s husband, Ryan, asking them to come to Vanderbilt the following morning; he shared his worst fears.

“Gabby sang her little heart out that night and we were just in tears,” Melissa said.

Treatments for Gabby’s rare osteosarcoma diagnosis began immediately with 30 weeks of chemo and Gabby lost her hair. Weeks later, God touched the hearts of some Immanuel Baptist Church friends and they gathered on the Aulds’ front porch praying, singing, and rallying around the family as Gabby watched from the window.

“It was beautiful!” Melissa said. “They have loved and prayed us through this.”

Melissa explained how complicated pediatric cancer treatments are. Adult treatments are outpatient-based; for children, procedures require long stretches in the hospital followed by short breaks. Many children don’t make it long-term when battling extreme cancers. Some of the medicines and techniques haven’t changed much over the years. Melissa said she aches for more funding, research, and advanced techniques to treat pediatric cancer.

“Parents don’t talk about it a lot,” she said. “We have to talk about it because people need to know what these kids go through.”

Children’s bones are usually fully grown by the time they reach the age of 14. Gabby was 7 when her fight began; after a large tumor was removed, treatment included getting a cadaver bone and employing magnetic technology to stretch it as she grows. So far, the bone has been stretched 4.5 cm to match the femur in the other leg that is still growing.

“We don’t talk about the future a lot,” Melissa said. “We’re just trusting God.”

There may be future obstacles, but the Aulds family remains upbeat and strong in their faith.

The Aulds family is grateful for Sherry’s Hope and the way they have raised awareness and support for cancer patients with the annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk. Fakes & Hooker, where Ryan is a partner, has been a supporter of the organization. Another family connection, the law firm of Rochelle, McCulloch, & Aulds, has been a loyal Sherry’s Run 5K sponsor.

Sherry’s Hope board member Jane Hay expressed her gratitude for their support: “We deeply appreciate Fakes & Hooker, Rochelle, McCulloch, & Aulds, and all the organizations who have supported us over the years. It takes a community to support a community.”

Registration for the 18th annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk opens on Tuesday. The Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk to benefit Sherry’s Hope is Sept. 11 and this year’s race will be held in honor of Gabby, a fierce pediatric cancer warrior who will then be two years cancer free. Register or join a team at www.sherrysrun.org and make a difference in the lives of those in our community affected by cancer.

Sherry’s Hope is a nonprofit organization that works throughout the year to provide hope to families battling cancer in Wilson County and surrounding communities by offering emotional encouragement and financial assistance. In addition, Sherry’s Hope works to spread colon health awareness by distributing free colon cancer screening tests and providing colonoscopy assistance.

To learn more about Sherry’s Hope, please call 615-925-2592. To refer someone for assistance, please call 615-925-9932 or visit www. sherryshope.org.

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