Skip to main content

Media/Press Releases

Breast Cancer Knows No Boundaries: A Young Mother’s Story



“You are too young to have breast cancer.” These are words Toni Roberts of Lebanon wants to make sure women don’t hear and believe.

In 2016, Toni went for her yearly exam. She was an active and healthy 29 year old. A pea size lump was found in her breast. Her nurse practitioner sent her for a mammogram, but she was told by another medical professional that it wasn’t necessary. Instead, an ultrasound was done and she was diagnosed with fibro adenoma, a type of noncancerous breast tumor that most often occurs in young women.

Over the next year, the pea size lump grew. Toni persisted with physicians. After she had an ultrasound confirming that the lump had doubled in size, doctors recommended a biopsy. However, even then, they assured her they were 90% sure it wasn’t anything. A few days later, Toni was diagnosed with stage 2a HER2 positive breast cancer.

Toni’s diagnosis in 2017 came just days before the Sherry’s Run event. Although Toni had participated in the run many times before, the 2017 event was particularly emotional for her. At the event, Toni wrote the words “I’m in the driver seat of this fight!” on the Sherry’s Run car.

The last year has been full of treatments, but now Toni is a cancer survivor! Throughout it all, Toni worked a full time job and stayed active taking classes at the gym. Her positive attitude has been an inspiration to everyone who knows her. Toni had a 47 member team at the 2018 Sherry’s Run event. Her fiancée, Daniel, also came out several days prior to the run and gave hours of his time and energy to help set up for the event.

“I want people to know you are never too young for breast cancer,” said Toni. Her advice to all women is, “don’t be ashamed to speak up for your health!” It is because of her persistence and her refusal to just believe she was too young to have breast cancer that Toni is a survivor.

When the Sherry’s Run organization first reached out to Toni, she declined assistance since she was still able to work. Alisa Eakes, Sherry’s Run Director of Patient Assistance, assured Toni that the Sherry’s Run organization was there to help her through her cancer diagnosis. Throughout her treatments, the Sherry’s Run organization was able to help Toni and her family with utility and medical bills which allowed her to focus on her health and caring for her young son. “Sherry’s Run is so amazing,” said Toni. “It was such a relief to know they were there.”

“The Sherry’s Run organization is glad we could be there to help Toni when she most needed the support of her community,” said Alisa Eakes, Sherry’s Run Director of Patient Assistance. “In many cases a cancer diagnosis creates an unexpected financial hardship. The Sherry’s Run organization works to help fill the gaps, enabling the patient to focus on their health and well- being.”

Sherry’s Run, Wilson County’s largest grassroots cancer fundraising effort, is a non-profit, Christian organization that has helped hundreds of individuals and their families during some of the hardest times of their lives. With community support and involvement, Sherry’s Run helps members of our community year round through support groups; assistance with utilities, housing, prescriptions, medical bills, gas and groceries; and colonoscopy assistance.

To learn more about the Sherry’s Run organization, please call 615-925-2592 or email To refer someone for assistance, please call 615-925-9932 or email To make an online donation to Sherry’s Run, click here  or mail donations to Sherry’s Run, P.O. Box 8, Lebanon, TN 37088-0008.

Corrie Cluck

Faith, courage, optimism and a desire to help others were qualities that defined Sharon “Sherry” Patterson Whitaker. Both before and after the energetic wife and mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, the impression she made on her family, friends and community was undeniable. While her battle in the flesh was lost in 2004, the spirit she had shown throughout life continues to touch more lives every day. Because of Sherry’s Run, a 5K run/walk benefit organized in Sherry’s memory, area cancer victims and their families can make strides toward becoming cancer survivors, and researchers are a small step closer to stopping the disease for good.