If you talk to Alta Lee for more than 20 minutes, you’re going to hear her say “God’s got this” at least five times.
It’s not just her motto: it’s a life lesson she is joyously passing on to her listeners. Alta once worked in a factory, and she prayed for God to help her. “One day, I took one of those tests to see what job I would be good at, and cosmetology was it. They told me it was going to cost $64 for books, and I had to get a white uniform. I didn’t have the money for books or the uniform.” She realized God was answering her prayers when she got an insurance refund in the mail for exactly $64. “The other workers at the factory bought me the uniform, and the rest is history!” She moved to Lebanon from Jamestown in 1986 after taking a part-time job at a local Barbershop. “I had my own beauty shop in Jamestown, and I was afraid I might not be able to make a good living in Lebanon,” she explained. She worked two days a week cutting women’s and men’s hair at the barbershop and kept her shop in Jamestown open the rest of the week to pay the bills. Alta commuted for a while but eventually moved here when she realized she could make enough to support herself and her two boys, Kendall and Adam. “They were raised in the barbershop,” she laughed, “so everybody in town knew them. If they ever did anything wrong, I always knew about it right away because my customers told me!” Alta has always felt God’s hand on her life.
Three years ago, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. “I had gone to the doctor to get a physical, so I could get some prescriptions refilled. I felt fine, but I’d been a little tired lately.” The initial bloodwork showed she was anemic, and the doctor wanted to do more tests. He sent Alta to Sherry’s Hope to get a test kit, and the results required a follow-up colonoscopy. Her daughter Chelsea went with her and cried when the doctor confirmed Alta had cancer. “God’s got this!” Alta reminded Chelsea. She maintains a positive attitude even during the tough times in life. “Sometimes, it’s hard, but it’s all about how you choose to face it and get through it…God knows where I am and what I’m going through.” She stressed that God wasn’t helping her because she deserved it: “I’m not perfect; I’m forgiven.”
A friend referred Alta to Sherry’s Hope, and they contacted her after receiving her application. At that point, Alta realized the scope of their care was much broader than providing test kits. “I had no idea what all they did,” she confessed. Alisa Eakes, Patient Assistance Director for Sherry’s Hope kept in constant contact with her, checking on her and offering encouragement. Sherry’s Hope helped Alta pay electric bills, provided groceries, and gave her gas cards to defray the cost of her numerous trips to Vanderbilt. “I went every other week for a year. I wore a fanny pack with the medicine in it, and it ran through a tube and up to a port.” Chelsea was taught how to remove the tube once the medicine was depleted, and the bi-monthly appointments kept track of Alta’s progress. She continued to work, and some people never even knew she was sick. Alta is aware that a lot of people, especially her regular customers, were praying for her during that time. “God must have been up there saying, ‘Alta, I haven’t heard from some of these people in years; they must REALLY want their hair done!’”
The most difficult part of her journey occurred after the first surgery to remove the cancer. The doctor couldn’t get it all, and she had staples in her stomach afterwards that were extremely painful. “That’s the only time I cried. I remember asking Jesus, ‘How’d you ever die on a cross?’ because I couldn’t even imagine the pain He must have felt.” Another doctor performed a 10 ½ hour surgery later to get the remaining cancer. She was sore, but Alta was well enough to be released from the hospital six days later. “It was a God thing!” she laughed. Even her surgeon admitted that Alta must have prayed her way out of the hospital!
Afterwards, Alta attended monthly support group meetings sponsored by Sherry’s Hope. Men and women with all types of cancers came together to share information and bond with others who understood their struggle. “People there share stories, talk about good and bad experiences, and try to help each other. Life is really about what you can do for others.” She said anywhere from 14-30 people often attended those support groups. Alta noted that a lot of those people didn’t have close friends or family members who could be of assistance to them, so she tried to be an encourager in those meetings. “I like to remind them all that God is still on the throne!”
Today, Alta works her magic on people’s hair at the Barber Company next to Marti & Liz. In February, she had a CT scan that showed she was cancer free! She is grateful for God’s healing and for the friends who prayed for her. She sings the praises of Sherry’s Hope. “I have pointed other people to them to get help because they have been so good.” It’s wonderful to know that “God’s got this,” but it’s also comforting to know that Sherry’s Hope is working hands-on every week to help people like Alta who can benefit from their services!
The organization wants everyone in our community to know that if you are fighting cancer, Sherry’s Hope is here for you. In addition to financial support and hosting monthly support group meetings, Sherry’s Hope works to spread colon health awareness by distributing colon cancer screening test kits throughout the year.
Story written by: Susie Stephens