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Local Business Owner Inspires Courage


To say that Rick Stewart is an involved member of the Lebanon community would be an understatement.  He’s a business owner, long time volunteer with the Wilson County Fair Board, and he’s also a two-time cancer survivor.


In 2011, Rick was diagnosed with kidney cancer. While the diagnosis came as a shock to he and his wife, Debbie, his doctor reassured him it was very beatable. After surgery to remove half of his kidney, Rick went right back to running his business, Signs Now

Like most cancer patients, Rick returned annually for routine check ups that were always clear, but in the back of his mind he knew that it could always come back. And so it did. In 2014, a scan showed cancer in his lungs. The biopsy revealed that there were in fact multiple spots and it was inoperable.

Though the Stewarts were devastated by the news, Rick was determined to fight it. At the time, a very aggressive treatment was available, but the doctor cautioned him that most people were not strong enough to survive the treatment. “Let’s do it!” was Rick’s response. 

Over the next several months, Rick would spend one out of every three weeks in the critical care tower at Vanderbilt. The side effects were tremendous. He lost most of the skin on his body, could barely eat, and suffered violent body tremors. Even through all of this, Rick continued to work on the weeks he was home from the hospital.  

“I had to concentrate on getting better,” says Rick. “With all of the awesome people I had in my life supporting me, how could I lose?” Amazingly, Rick did get better. With the next scan, the doctor discovered the tumors had shrunk. In September of 2016, he had surgery to remove the tumors and no live cancer cells were found! 

Rick believes that his story should be shared to encourage others. He has had multiple speaking opportunities, including Living Sent Ministries and his own congregation, Immanuel Baptist Church. At both, his topic was courage and the gifts he has received from God. One of those gifts for Rick, has been the support received from Sherry’s Run, a local faith based non-profit that provides financial assistance for cancer patients and their families. 

Sherry’s Run was able to assist the Stewarts with medical bills throughout his treatment.  “Sherry’s Run gave me peace of mind. They understand the system. It was great knowing someone is on your side…an advocate,” says Rick. “Rick and Debbie are such a blessing to work with. They have gone out of their way to give back and that is exactly what Sherry’s Run is all about,” says Alisa Eakes, Patient Assistance Coordinator. 

Now Rick is taking advantage of the opportunity to “pay it forward”. As a supporter for the 14th annual Sherry’s Run 5K event, Signs Now is helping raise more funds to help future families who will face a difficult diagnosis. Will you join Rick and inspire courage in your community?  Register today!


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.