CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Sherry Pollex is part of NASCAR Royalty, a longtime girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr., and champion in our community. But make no doubt, this woman is a force all on her own.
She’s currently in her five-year public battle with ovarian cancer. She’s still on an oral chemotherapy, taking four pills a day. But it’s what she does to supplement the chemo that has her so excited – she sat down to talk exclusively with our Molly Grantham about how she’s pouring money into a new Charlotte center to help others get the same type of integrative, more holistic, treatment.
"When I was first sick, everybody told me I had something different,” she said. “‘Oh, you have irritable bowel syndrome. Oh, you have celiac disease. Oh, you have Crohn’s Disease.’ And I kept thinking, that's not it. That's not it. There's something deeper than that. And I know my body and I know my body is trying to tell me something."
Sherry’s body was trying to tell her ovarian cancer, stage three. That was in 2014. Doctors gave her a 20 percent chance she’d live to age 40.
She proved them wrong, turning 40 this past May.
“I’m not cured, but I feel good,” she said. “My integrative medicine plays a huge part on the outside in helping me look good. The chemo could stop working at any time and things could turn, but I know I have a little more control over things when I can control how I’m treating my body and what I put into it.”
For Sherry, “integrative medicine” means yoga. Accupuncture. Counseling. Reiki – a stress-reduction technique with hands. Chiropractic care. Exercise. Massage therapy. And a big one - nutrition. All those things Sherry does in conjunction with the conventional chemo, to give her a sense of owning her own cancer, rather than cancer owning her.
“When you have cancer, I think the biggest thing is thinking you want control of it,” she says. “You want to feel like there’s something you can do to make a difference.”
Her belief in these techniques has led to construction at the corner of 4th Street and Queens Road. If you drive by and see the brick building starting to make its way skyward, you can know it’ll eventually be the first of its kind. Future Novant Health SherryStrong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic in Charlotte.
The center – with her name on it and much of her funding – will help take a physical, mental and spiritual approach for the cancer patients who are inside its walls.
“I thought when I left there the other day, regardless of what happens to my disease, you know, whether I outlive the statistics or not, you know, what an amazing legacy I’ve left behind,” she said. “Thinking that, take these moments and it’s not like that there’s a reason I got my illness, but God has me right where he needs me.”
Sherry’s faith has grown over the last five years. She recently she got baptized, sharing the video on her social media pages to the delight of her followers. She, along with Martin, also share about local kids who fight pediatric cancer. Together, they’ve always helped sick children, long before Sherry was diagnosed herself, but her relationship with these kids now is a whole new level.
“I get on the floor with them and take my wig off and am like, ‘I’m just like you.’,” she says. “It’s now about walking the walk and showing them that, and not just talking the talk.”
10-year-old Ruby Poulton is one of those bald-headed children to whom Sherry feels a connection. They go to concerts and galas together, Sherry even has Ruby’s name on a bracelet and says they talk every day.
“It’s the age-old lesson, you know,” she says. “About children leading adults in how to live? Every time I’m around here now I think to myself like, if this child can find joy and live with this disease that she has and be so happy and kind and compassionate to other people, then why can’t we?”
The SherryStrong clinic is set to open in November of 2020. She and the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation are also giving a $750,000 gift to Atrium Health to support integrative medicine for kids at Levine Children’s Hospital, some of which is already in play in the form of art and music classes.
She says her goal is to hit both major Charlotte hospitals with this concept of fighting cancer in mental and spiritual ways, and then move beyond.
“I’d love to see SherryStrong Integrative medicine clinics around the country,” she said with a smile. “But let’s start in our community. Let’s start here.”