Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pollex uses to share experience and compassion

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
by Kristen Schneider

Sherry Pollex wants to do more for those with cancer.

After fighting her battle with ovarian cancer, she felt the need to reach out to others and provide comfort as they faced diagnoses similar to or even worse than hers. Her story inspired those within the NASCAR community and she wants it to reach those outside the sport – those who have the same disease or those who are undereducated about ovarian cancer.

“Once I finished my treatment, I realized I wanted to do more to advocate for women with ovarian cancer but I also wanted to try to reach women before a diagnosis,” Pollex told Skirts and Scuffs. “So, started to take shape. The mission of the site is to empower women to know their bodies, recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer and learn how integrative and holistic practices may complement conventional medicine.”
Her website tries to remedy issues Pollex had after she was diagnosed, such as not knowing treatment options outside of the standard chemotherapy and radiation. She soon realized how important her attitude was when it came to battling Stage III ovarian cancer. One day over lunch, Krissie Newman, wife of NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, helped her overcome the mental negativity surrounding her five-year survival statistics.

“She [Newman] said, ‘So what is my chance of survival over the next five years?’" Pollex said."I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And she said, ‘Exactly, you have no idea if I’m going to die before you and I don’t have cancer. No one in this room knows when they are going to die. So that’s a bunch of crap.’ She made me realize, we’re all terminal. We’re all going to die, and no one knows when or what we’re going to die from. We have to live each day to the fullest and make memories everyday with our loved ones.”

Since then, Pollex makes it a goal to be positive – even if her own statistics are not good – and spread love and awareness to anyone going through the same battle.

“I really believe your attitude is so important when you get diagnosed and while you're going through treatment," she said. "You have to wake up every day and find the positive in this horrible situation.  There’s a silver lining in everything. “Don’t get me wrong, I had my bad days. But there weren’t many and when I had one, I’d remind myself, tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start over.”

Pollex offers up a bit of herself with each article she writes for her website, a testament to both her character and the importance of support. Nobody should have to fight cancer alone, and she believes a system of loving people is vital during this difficult time.

“People naturally move on with their lives, and someone going through cancer may feel like they don’t want to bother anyone,” she said. “That’s how I felt. Luckily, I had incredible family and friends who didn’t wait for me to ask.”

Those friends? The entire NASCAR community. Immediately after revealing her diagnosis in August 2014, she and her long-term boyfriend Martin Truex, Jr. received an outpouring of love and compassion from fellow racing personalities. When every car carried a teal ribbon decal to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, Pollex was floored.

“It was so surreal,” she said. “I was just so touched that people cared that much. It’s been so amazing to connect with all the NASCAR fans and hear how cancer has touched their lives. Everyone has a story.”

The support for Pollex stemmed from not only her situation but also from her dedication to others. Members of the racing community flocked to her aid due to her passion of advocating for children who suffer from various forms of cancer. She puts on Catwalk For a Cause every May to showcase the kids who are fighting the disease. The event was even more significant this time around – for the first time, Pollex had something in common with her kids as they strutted down the runway.

“This year was special because I was one of them. I’ve gone through the scary diagnosis of cancer and the grueling treatments, and those experiences gave me a whole new appreciation for what these kids go through. I wanted to show them how strong I was since I had taught them to do that for so many years,” she said. “It was amazing to be up on that runway walking with them, feeling empowered by who we are. I don’t take a single day for granted, and while some of them are too young to understand that, I look in their parents’ eyes, and we just get it.”

With her following and experience, she hopes to raise awareness for a disease that’s terribly underfunded. Every year, 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 of them die due to lack of knowledge and research. The symptoms are often attributed to common bodily functions, and action isn’t taken. Pollex’s acronym for the signs – BEAT – highlights the four largest indicators: bloating, eating less yet feeling full, abdominal pain and talking with a doctor about what’s normal or abnormal for your body.

Pollex has done a lot for those with cancer, but she wants to give so much more. is her way of paying it forward, with ‘it’ being the positivity and awareness she gained. Her efforts won’t go unnoticed – and they’ll certainly make a difference.

“I want to be an advocate for women fighting this and help them realize self-care and education is so important.”


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