Kerry Helms, 2017 Tree Lighter, Phoebe Worth Medical Center

Tree Lighting Ceremony – Phoebe Worth Medical Center – Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Kerry Helms has always worked with his hands. In 1977, he and his father started Helms Welding & Machine in Sylvester. “I love building stuff, taking a drawing or picture and building something out of it,” Kerry said. Unfortunately, the difficult treatment from a terrifying cancer diagnosis forced him to retire. “On October 14, 2013 I was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal and metastatic liver cancer. My whole world was turned upside down,” Kerry said. “I asked Dr. Mendenhall if I could beat it, what are my chances? He said 5 percent.” Thanks to the team at the Phoebe Cancer Center, Kerry is beating those odds. “I love every one of them. They’ve been nothing but great to me. The most compassionate people I’ve met in my life,” he said. Because his diagnosis was so serious, Kerry’s doctors gave him the opportunity to consult with physicians at some of the top cancer centers in the country. Instead, he chose to start his treatment immediately in Albany. “Phoebe has got the best cancer center anywhere around, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s been a godsend just being local and not having to travel to Atlanta.” Kerry’s journey has been tough. After getting great results from his cancer treatment, he developed a rare kind of pneumonia. “I was in ICU, and I quit breathing. Luckily, the doctors were right there and they got me back breathing,” Kerry said. He spent more than two months in the hospital and another 30 days in rehab learning to walk again. Then, his cancer returned. “At times it’s hard to stay optimistic, but I know the Lord has got a reason for me to be here. I think it’s to educate people on the importance of screenings.” Kerry nearly waited too long to get screened, and that’s a mistake he doesn’t want others to make. “Being the typical man, I’m not one to go to the doctor unless I get sick, and I never got sick. Once I started having problems, I just ignored it. It just kept getting worse,” he said. Kerry is back on a chemotherapy regimen and battling his cancer with strength and determination. He still works with his hands, too. In retirement, he taught himself the art of leatherwork. He spends his free time now making belts, holsters, keychains and journal covers. “I draw everything out and cut it out by hand and sew it by hand. It is labor intensive. It takes about 8 hours to sew one. Not many people do it all by hand like that,” he said. Kerry is proud of his leatherwork, but he’s more proud of his work to spread a lifesaving message. “If I can tell you my story and express the importance of getting checked and it saves your life, then I’ve done my job.” Please make plans to join The Martin News at this year’s event on Tuesday.
Source: Phoebe Worth Medical Center