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Local Resident, David Kendall, Shares His Story - Thanks Sherry's Run

Not even Superman can out run this speeding bullet

Sometimes life comes at you faster than a speeding bullet. Sometimes, you can dodge it – other times you can’t.

David Kendall and his wife, Pat, know all too well what a speeding bullet looks like — for them, it was a six letter word called cancer.

Before I tell you about David’s battle with cancer, I want you to meet them.

David and Pat moved to Wilson County in 1998. Pat inherited her family’s farm. The couple met at church more than 40 years ago while they were living in California. After being close friends for many years, they married in 1982. While living in California, David operated heavy equipment for construction companies and Pat waited tables.

When they decided to move to Tennessee, David went back to school to become a computer technician. He repaired computers and also provided help to various medical offices via phone.

Last June, David began to notice spots on his arms. “I went to my family doctor and he did not like the way the spots looked, so he sent me to another doctor and that’s when they discovered I had leukemia. I was shocked, truly shocked. Even my doctor was shocked at the diagnosis. He did not expect that at all. I had experienced low iron in the past, and I just figured that was what was happening to me, but I was wrong.” David said.

After more tests, doctors discovered David had not one form of cancer — but three. Each one related to his blood and bone marrow. That – was their speeding bullet!

David immediately began getting various treatments for the cancers. Despite all the efforts, some medical professionals told him they feared he would not live to see Christmas.  “Even though I heard that, I did not let it get me down. I said to myself over and over, when God is ready for me to come home — I will go home and I knew that God was my BEST physician!” David commented.

David lost more than 80 pounds and most of his strength, so he had to quit his job in the computer field. He simply could not sit for eight hours a day and work – his focus was getting better. “I was able to collect unemployment for a while, but soon I realized I could not seek work and of course the money stopped. Then I applied for disability, but the way the system works is that you don’t get it right away. Pat and I had some savings, but that went quickly because so many of the co-pays for this type medicine is expensive plus, the COBRA insurance was expensive as well. Within three months of being diagnosed, we soon found ourselves in a severe financial situation.”

On September 10, Pat and David were reaching the end of their rope. “Pat had taken me to Tennessee Oncology for an appointment, but before we left we talked about the fact we would be lucky to have enough gas to make it to the hospital – so we prayed that someone, some how would intervene and help us. Our prayers were answered later on that day when we met, Tiffy Clemons.”

Tiffy is a patient advocate, as well as a board member for Sherry’s Run. Sherry’s Run is a Wilson County based organization that provides services for folks dealing with cancer. Tiffy stopped everything she was doing that day to meet with the Kendalls. “We met in the break room of the oncology office and we found the most wonderful and beautiful person that day. Tiffy gave us a Sherry’s Run Gift Card for Kroger so we could get gas to get home that day and later, until my disability began, Sherry’s Run also provided us with a Sherry’s Run Gift Card from Wal-Mart to buy groceries and basic needs. She also arranged for Sherry’s Run to help pay our water, electricity and prescriptions. I can see that Tiffy loves what she does. We simply could not have made it without her help and the support of Sherry’s Run. Our prayers were answered that day. The Sherry’s Run foundation helped us get back on our feet, help from them is not a life long thing, just temporary and that is exactly what we needed – temporary help. We may have lost our home and everything else we own, if the organization had not been able to assist us. They propped us up when we were down and we will forever be grateful.”  David added.

David is in what he calls a holding pattern for now. Doctors tell him the kind of cancer he has is not curable, just manageable with medication. Every day David gives thanks to a long list of people – from the workers at UMC and Tennessee Oncology and to every person who has ever donated to Sherry’s Run.

And last but not least, David thanks Pat for caring for him day after day after day, despite the days when she doesn’t feel so well as she deals with COPD. The couple is about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Knowing that, I had to ask David about the vows he and Pat took oh so many years ago – especially these: “for better or worse” and “in sickness and in health”. “You don’t think about the vows that much at first, because we were very healthy then. Still, we both meant every word we said then and we mean them now. We vowed to go thru whatever came our way together — and that’s what we are doing.”

David and Pat did not know about Sherry’s Run until the speeding bullet came their way.  And you can bet they won’t ever forget the help they received. To “give back” to the organization, David and Pat will be stationed at the Survivors’ Tent at this year’s run – providing food and drink to the survivors and sharing their story of survival.

That story includes what David has learned from these illnesses — that TIME is our most precious possession. “I encourage people to please spend time with their family and friends and give thanks to God for each day they are given – that’s how I feel and that is what I do every day.”

So the next time you see a “speeding bullet” coming your way, think of David — and know, while it may hit you – chances are, someone will be able to help you when it does.

The eighth annual Sherry’s Run is scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 2011 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.

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 615-925-2592 or visit www.sherrysrun.org.