With Mother’s Day approaching, many of us will gather with loved ones to share our favorite foods and tell stories of holidays past. Two activities most of us take for granted: eating and talking with those we love. But not so for Timmy Smith of Watertown, Tennessee.
Smith spent most of his adolescence and young adulthood dipping tobacco, but when his sons became old enough to start asking about it he decided it was time to quit. Unfortunately, the damage was done. It started with small black spots on his tongue that had to be removed. Over the course of seventeen years, Smith had several of these surgeries leaving his tongue badly deformed.
In May of 2016, Smith became very ill. He couldn’t eat or speak and was even struggling to breath. This time he and his wife, Jill, knew it was serious. His doctor sent him to Vanderbilt where he saw an Otolaryngologists (someone who specializes in treating ear, nose, and throat issues). He immediately determined that Smith’s tongue would have to be removed.
The surgery was scheduled and preparations were made, but there was one more thing Smith wanted to do. He gathered his four children, their spouses, and his four grandchildren to his home for a meal. “It’s not that we didn’t believe he would come through it,” says Jill. “We just weren’t sure if his family would ever be able to hear him say, ‘I love you’ again.”
Smith did come through the surgery and continually amazed the doctors and nurses with his determination. It was during this time that Smith’s aunt urged him to contact Sherry’s Run. Jill called Tonyia Stockton, Director of Patient Assistance, and was amazed at the personal care they received. “Tonyia had never even met my husband, says Jill, “but she talked about him like she knew him. I could just tell they really cared.”
One of the solutions that Sherry’s Run was able to provide for the Smiths was a high calorie Boost drink to help Timmy keep his calorie intake up. In fact, when he went in for weight checks, the doctors were amazed at how well he was doing. Now, the doctor recommends this for all of his patients.
A second unexpected service that Sherry’s Run was able to provide was dental care. Prior to having radiation, patients must have a cleaning and fluoride treatment. Stockton made a phone call to Dr. Richard Boehm of Lebanon, Tennessee who partnered with Sherry’s Run to provide the service at no cost to the Smiths.
Of course, gas assistance was also provided, allowing the Smiths to make the daily trip for six weeks to Vanderbilt for radiation treatments. Smith is doing well and even made it to the Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk event back in September. When asked what he thought of the event he said, “I stood in the middle of the Survivor’s Tent and balled. I just couldn’t believe how many people were being helped like this.”
April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month. The Smiths along with Sherry’s Run encourage our neighbors to take steps to prevent this type of cancer for you and your loved ones.