|Hometown Walk of Hope aids battle against cancer |
|Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:56 pm |
| Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories about citizens of Obion County who have been or are being helped by the Obion County Cancer Agency with funds raised through Obion County Hometown Walk of Hope. |
By DONNA RYDER
Acid reflux is generally a bothersome medical issue that rears its ugly head in the form of a burning sensation often associated with eating fatty, greasy or spicy food.
For most people, it’s a minor irritant remedied by taking an antacid like the old standbys of Tums® or Rolaids® or the newer medications like Pepcid® or Zantac®. But for Jeff Burress of Hornbeak, it came on as a silent, unexpected issue that eventually caused him to have cancer.
Burress’s wife, Carla, said they never knew he had acid reflux because he never had any symptoms. “He never chewed a Tums or a Rolaids,” she said.
Burress said he first suspected there was something wrong last year when he would eat and then get sick. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer upon his initial visit with Dr. Kofi Nuako in March 2011.
After a round of chemotherapy and radiation, he and his wife traveled to Nashville, where Dr. Jonathan Nesbitt performed surgery on July 13 at Vanderbilt Hospital to remove two-thirds of his esophagus and a portion of his stomach. He said his stomach is now up by his heart.
He finished his treatments in December, but still has to go back to the doctors for tests and to have his esophagus stretched.
Before Burress became sick, he was a painter and he hung wall paper and finished drywall. He won’t be able to work again until he builds up his strength. He spends his days working in the yard and in the garden.
Mrs. Burress, who works at Sherwin-Williams in Union City, said they were luckier than others to have had medical insurance, but the difficulty of going from two incomes to one was made easier by the Obion County Walk of Hope.
“It would have been hard to make it without them,” she said, adding it has been a blessing.
Monthly financial assistance made it possible for them to travel to Nashville, especially when an early- morning appointment made it a requirement to get a motel room the night before. It also helped pay for cell phones, a much-needed link between medical personnel and Mrs. Burress when she needed to step out of the hospital.
Walk of Hope has also provided the nutritional drink Ensure™ for Burress, who said he can’t eat very much at a time because of the size of his stomach. Before the surgery, he weighed 212 pounds. Now, he weighs 180.
The Burress family has been no stranger to Walk of Hope. In fact, Burress has helped raise funds for the program through the Crosswinds Church team for more than five years.
Mrs. Burress, who attends Exchange Street Church of Christ with their son, Dylan, said they knew they were raising money for a good cause, but until her husband got sick, they didn’t know how it worked.
A family member told them they needed to call Hometown Walk of Hope to seek assistance. Obion County residents can apply for assistance by contacting Lorraine Beachum at 885-0110 or any other member of the Obion County Cancer Agency. These include Randy Thetford, Jimmy Smith, Suzie McWherter, Jeannie Buchanan, Brenda Perry, Teresa Vinson and Allen Edmaiston.
Teams have been raising funds for Walk of Hope over the past year and their efforts will culminate in the annual walk on June 2 from 4 p.m. until midnight at War Memorial Stadium on the Union City High School campus.
Mrs. Burress encourages everyone to come out to the event to purchase dinner for the night and do anything they can to help out the Obion County Cancer Agency. She said they have received permission through Sherwin-Williams to cook ribs, being provided by the business. Burress and Bill Futhey will cook the ribs and serve slaw, baked beans and drinks. Their tent will be adjacent to the Union City Second Baptist Church team, which will be providing the plates and utensils for the meal. All the profits will be donated to Walk of Hope.
Published in The Messenger 5.17.12