Local woman asking for help from community for cancer treatment

Nick Shepherd • May 25, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Fighting cancer is a long and draining process. It is also a very expensive process, and the expense is causing a Kingsport woman to take matters into her own hands.

Shelia Whaley was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2012, but she knew something was wrong before that.

She had been experiencing back pain for a while, but every doctor she went to told her it was probably a pulled muscle.

After getting no relief from prescribed medication, she finally went to the emergency room and pushed the doctors for tests. Whaley thought she might have kidney stones, but when the results came back, it was cancer.

“I just cried,” Whaley said. “I was by myself and I just cried and cried. That was way out in left field, basically.”

Multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer that is treatable, but has no cure.

After the devastation comes treatment.

Whaley has gone through 24 chemotherapy treatments, and at first the treatments were rough for her.

She said sometimes she felt like pulling the IVs out when receiving the treatments because it was poison flowing through her veins. But she had to stay strong for her two sons, four grandchildren and even her great-grandchild. She soon got used to the treatment and more or less handles them well now.

Whaley is a prime candidate for a stem cell transplantation, also known as a bone marrow transplant.

Vanderbilt Medical Center is the closest hospital that can do the procedure, but a couple of obstacles stand in the way. Whaley’s insurance has to approve the procedure, she is trying to find a car to drive to Nashville because her current car has over 300,000 miles and she needs to be able to cover the expense of staying in Nashville for four to six weeks for the procedure.

She should know about the insurance later this month, but she is turning to the community for the other needs.

“What I want to do is to see if people will donate stuff for me to have a big yard sale and bake sale,” Whaley said. “I want to save the money to go to Vanderbilt for a bone marrow transplant.”

Whaley is unsure how much it will cost, but any money the yard/bake sale brings in will be used to fund the trip and any donations will be put into a savings account for the trip, she said.

Kindness usually follows tragedy, and for Whaley, this is the second time she has needed the community.

The first time was a few years ago when her son was tragically killed in a car accident.

“Years ago, when my son got killed in a car accident, I had a bake sale and the community was right there,” she said. “I didn’t even ask for anything, I just put an ad in the paper to have a bake sale and they came out. It was good, people donated and it paid for my son’s funeral and bought a headstone and everything. It was a real blessing.”

Whaley will be holding the bake sale on May 31 and June 1 at her sister-in-law’s house. The house is located at 3100 Mayfield Drive in Johnson City.

She is looking for any items to sell in the yard sale. She will also be offering various fudges, cookies, candy bars and cakes she makes herself at the bake sale.

Whaley is hoping members of the community will offer their support.

“I hope the community can find it in their hearts to help me with this,” she said. “I want to have a good quality of life, and in order for me to have that I need this stem cell transplant. I want more time with my kids. I have four grandkids and my great grandson that’s a couple of weeks old. ... I don’t want to just lay and die. I want to live.”

To make donations, you can reach Shelia Whaley at (423) 963-4262.

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