Sherry’s Run Patient Mariea Coleman Shares Her Story
LEBANON, TENN. – June 1, 2012 – Mariea Doss Coleman did not worship the sun when she was growing up in Macon County, Tennessee. And she did not worship the sun as an adult — still, skin cancer came calling her name in June of 2011.
“Doctors discovered the cancer in a mole on my back. I knew I had a mole near my shoulder blade, and I always had someone check it for me. It wasn’t until I was 34 years old that it started changing in size, shape and texture. I watched it for about six months and it got worse and even bled at times,” Mariea recalled.
After a biopsy of the mole, Mariea got the dreadful news — it was malignant melanoma. “It was such a shock to me — skin cancer — me! It took more than a week to come to terms with the diagnosis and to even say my name in the same sentence as the word cancer.”
Doctors told Mariea they needed to remove the mole, surrounding tissue as well as some lymph nodes. And then she would have to have chemotherapy. This forced Mariea to make a few tough decisions. You see, she was living and working in Columbia, Tennessee. Who would take care of her if the treatments made her sick and tired? So Mariea decided the best thing for her to do was come back home to Macon County and live with her parents, Angela and Gary.
Once she began chemotherapy, Mariea took advantage of the family medical leave program at her job. She hoped to return to work, but at the end of those 12 weeks, she was just too sick. The company had no choice but to end her employment. This put a financial strain on Mariea and her parents. But they were not too proud to ask for a hand up and Sherry’s Run was there to help.
Tiffy Clemons, Executive Board Member of Sherry’s Run, received the phone call regarding Mariea; and, as in countless other calls, looked for ways in which Sherry’s Run could offer help. According to Clemons, “When I first visited Mariea she was in need of gas assistance to get her back and forth to her doctor visits and treatments. Her story is similar to a lot of the patients that we help – they have nowhere else to turn and have exhausted all other help and options.”
Sherry’s Run provided gift cards to buy gas and groceries. Mariea noted, “The folks at Sherry’s Run have been wonderful and so have the people at my church. Sometimes they just call or send me a note in the mail just to ask how I’m doing, that means so much to me and my parents.”
Seven months after the first surgery, while Mariea was undergoing chemotherapy she was dealt another blow. Lymph nodes in her neck were enlarged – even with the chemotherapy running through her body – they had continued to grow. The doctor’s stopped her chemotherapy because the cancer had kept progressing and they removed the lymph nodes. “That was in February of this year and the doctors told me that I had a fifty- fifty chance of survival. So many things went and still go thru my mind. I wish my parents did not have to see me in pain, see my dying and I don’t want to be associated with being someone with cancer — but all of this is true. I do get down sometimes, but after a few tears I pick myself up and take the next step,” Mariea emphasized.
Clemons says, “Through Sherry’s Run we were able to connect Mariea with resources that could help her in other ways and continually provided calls and visits to let Mariea and her family know she has friends who care.” Also, Mariea’s mother, Angela, has found a way to help with expenses by baking sweets and selling them throughout the community.
Mariea’s had two more surgeries since February of this year. One to remove a tumor on her back and more lymph nodes in her neck were removed. She is home with her mother and father right now — doing everything she can to get stronger and beat this demon known as cancer.
Mariea said, “I want to get the word out that early detection is the key. I don’t think a lot of people realize that skin cancer can be deadly and that people of all ages can get it. While I was not out in the sun a lot, I did not use sun screen that much. So if I could offer any advice it would be to use sun screen every time you can and have someone to look at your moles or brown spots because we can’t see our backs, and that is where my was located. It may mean the difference between living and dying.”
While Mariea is still sick, and is often very tired, she tries to find something positive in each day and she’s found that living in the moment can be a good way to live.
Supporters of Sherry’s Run have an incredible giving spirit, one that this area prides itself on. In this spirit, that the Sherry’s Run organization is truly making a difference in the lives of those who are battling cancer. The funds raised go to help cancer patients just like Mariea who are hurting right here in our community.
The ninth annual Sherry’s Run is scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. in Lebanon, beside the main office of Wilson Bank & Trust, 623 West Main Street. Mark your calendar and make a commitment to join us. Registration is open now. Log on to www.SherrysRun.org to sign up.
The mission of Sherry’s Run: Through faith and love create an environment for all those affected by cancer, which provides hope, knowledge, assistance, support and compassion. To learn more about Sherry’s Run or to refer someone who might qualify for assistance, please call 615-925-9932 or visit www.sherrysrun.org.