For over a decade, Sherry Pollex and her partner, NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr., have been passionate about helping kids with cancer. But they had no idea the disease was about to impact them even more. Four years ago, when she was 35, Pollex was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Searching for answers
Prior to diagnosis, Pollex was the embodiment of health. She ate right, exercised and lived a balanced lifestyle.
However, she also had frequent bloating, back pain and constipation. While doctors dismissed her concerns and attributed her symptoms to irritable bowel syndrome, she knew something more was going on.
Pollex, who lives outside Charlotte, N.C., spent 6 months looking for answers. It wasn’t until she consulted a family friend who’s a gastroenterologist that she got the medical help she needed.
“I had about 47 tumors from my pelvic bones to my rib cage and diaphragm,” says Pollex, explaining she had stage IIIC primary peritoneal cancer. Five days later, she had a six-hour surgery to remove those tumors. She also had a radical hysterectomy.
She then completed six months of aggressive chemotherapy, followed by 12 months of additional maintenance chemotherapy.
“I had remission for a year and three months and then I had a recurrence, which is very common with ovarian cancer,” says Pollex, noting the cancer was discovered in her liver and spleen.
She had more surgery, followed by six more months of chemo. She is currently in remission and taking a maintenance drug.
Pollex is combining traditional medicine with holistic care, including acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, meditation, juicing and following a high alkaline diet. She launched a website called “Sherry Strong” to inspire and educate ovarian cancer patients.
“It takes a lot of effort to stay positive every day,” Pollex says, crediting her family and Truex Jr. for surrounding her with optimism.
Ovarian cancer is called a silent killer. There are no early detection tests and most cases are diagnosed at a late stage. “If one is diagnosed with stage III or IV cancer, their chance of survival over five years is less than 20 percent,” says Pollex.
“Don’t stop until you get an answer,” she says, acknowledging persistence saved her life.
Now 39, Pollex says her cancer has been a gift, giving her perspective and helping her relate to the sick kids she meets through her work with the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, which she and Truex Jr. set up to raise money and awareness for ovarian and childhood cancer initiatives.
The foundation’s 9th annual Catwalk for a Cause fundraiser raised over $700,000. The couple also announced they’re donating $1.2 million to establish the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Children’s Emergency Department, as well as the Sherry Strong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic in Charlotte, N.C.
Kristen Castillo, [email protected]