She’s bright, mature, and full of life and spirit. When 13 year old Samantha Minervini tells her story, one cannot help but be impressed with her wisdom and courage.
In early 2015, Samantha began complaining of severe hip pain. Because she is an avid gymnast, her parents assumed she had suffered an injury.
When the pain became too severe for her to walk, they rushed her to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Later that night, they received a call from the hospital asking that they come back immediately. “I was so scared,” said Samantha. “I just knew it was going to be cancer.” Then Samantha and her parents heard the words that they feared: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
That day began a journey for Samantha and her family that they never could have expected. Throughout the year, Sam would face many challenges including daily chemo treatments, hair loss, and missing all of the summer fun her friends were enjoying. But, amid all of the frustration and pain, Sam and her family also experienced some tremendous blessings.
In April, 2015, Janet at Middle Tennessee Electric referred the Minervinis to Sherry’s Run, a faith-based non-profit in Wilson County that provides financial assistance to cancer patients and families with a true need. For the past year, Sherry’s Run has been keeping the lights on for Sam and her family while they are fighting the greatest battle of her life. They have also provided gas and grocery cards to relieve the burden of long stints spent in the hospital in Nashville.
“If love could cure cancer, the cure would be found at Sherry’s Run,” says Rajeana, Sam’s mother. “Sherry’s Run is restoration; God’s soldiers that helped shield us from the enemy and led us out of the darkest moments of despair with their LOVE.” As is usually the case, the blessing of this relationship goes both ways. “The Minervini’s have been such a blessing to know,” says Tonyia Watson, Director of Patient Assistance for Sherry’s Run. “It is because of people like this that I am so thankful for the opportunity to do this job.”
Sam and her family have been blessed by many others throughout this journey, as well. They mention their “Pa” Corley who has provided constant love and support as well as Sam’s gymnastics coach, Ginger Raines, who visited the hospital often and has encouraged Sam to continue her training, and members of the Lynnwood Pentecostal Church who faithfully visited and checked on Sam.
Sam and her father, Rob, were determined to participate in the 2015 Sherry’s Run 5K event. However, when the day came, Sam was very weak and tired due to the chemo. She was able to ride on the survivor trolley at the event and watch her father cross the finish line. This was quite an accomplishment for Rob after having survived two heart attacks and a horrific car crash.
This spirit of overcoming must run in the family. Sam says this to all of the other kids out there fighting cancer: “Don’t give up. Always have hope. And, trust in God.” Sam dreams of one day being a nurse or gymnastics coach. In the meantime, she looks forward to April, 2017 when her treatments will be over. No matter what she decides to do with her life, we know she will go far and bless many!