By Crystal Burns
Jimmy Zarecor of Yorkville and Scarlett Spencer of Dyer have been selected to represent the North Gibson County area at Relay For Life Saturday, June 15 at Shady Acres Park in Trenton.
Zarecor was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. After surgery, he underwent six months of chemotherapy, which he finished in December of that year. In 2017, he was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer.
Zarecor’s daughter Ashley Seratt said the cancers were unrelated.
In April 2017, Zarecor underwent a Whipple procedure. The major surgical operation is most often performed to remove cancerous tumors off the head of the pancreas.
Zarecor once again underwent chemo. Then in November 2017, doctors found lesions on his liver. More chemo followed, and he also had three ablations done.
“He had really done well over the last year and half,” Seratt said.
In January of this year, doctors discovered an obstruction in a bile duct that has resulted in numerous blood transfusions for Zarecor. He’s also had to stop taking chemotherapy treatments.
“That’s what’s got him down right now,” Seratt said. “It’s just one thing after another.”
Despite the hardships, Seratt said her father has kept on going.
“He never complains,” she said.
Zarecor, 57, and his wife Debbie have been married 25 years. Their children are Jarrod and Jonathan Zarecor and Ashley Seratt. The couple has six grandchildren.
Seratt said the family has been blessed throughout their father’s difficult battle.
“We’ve had wonderful nurses, home health and doctors,” she said.
The Yorkville community rallied to raise more than $40,000 for Zarecor’s medical care. Seratt said the kindness and generosity overwhelmed her family. They are also grateful for their father’s selection as an honorary chairperson.
“We really appreciate it and thank them so much for thinking of him,” she said.
Spencer has been getting mammograms each year since she turned 30 because of her family’s history with breast cancer. She went for her scheduled mammogram in May 2018, and although the test came back clear, doctors suggested Spencer complete genetic testing.
In July, the genetic testing came back negative, but the number used to calculate whether Spencer’s insurance would pay for an MRI prompted doctors to suggest the additional test. Spencer put off the MRI until October. The day she went in for the test, doctors decided to do a 3D mammogram and ultrasound as well. The radiologist assured Spencer that everything was fine, but he wanted to send the tests to his boss in Arkansas for a second opinion.
Spencer said in the back of her mind, she knew something was wrong.
The breast specialist in Arkansas called Spencer a few days later, telling her that she didn’t like what she saw. She sent Spencer back for a biopsy, which revealed the cancer.
“At that point, I was still pretty good,” Spencer said. She felt like God had been preparing her for the diagnosis. “It’s that phone call you don’t want, but I was expecting that phone call. I think God prepared me.”
Spencer elected to have a double mastectomy and underwent the procedure on December 6. She took four rounds of chemotherapy.
“I was very thankful when that fourth round came to an end,” she said.
Her surgeon at West Clinic in Memphis set Spencer up with an oncologist in Jackson who would recommend radiation. Last week, Spencer finished the 26th of 28 treatments. She will have reconstructive surgery in November or December of this year.
Spencer credits God for giving her the ability and strength and deal with her illness, chemo and radiation and said the support she received from her family and friends was unbelievable.
Spencer is married to Patrick, and the have two sons. Landon is 23, and Carson is 17 and a senior at Gibson County High School.
“My husband was a true warrior,” Spencer said. “The boys have been wonderful. I think they took it so well because they say Mom doing so well.”
For the past 18 years, Spencer has worked as a secretary at Dyer School. Last year as she battled cancer, the students rallied around her. They drew posters and lined the hallways to wish her well on her last day of work before having surgery.
In August, she will start a new chapter in her career when she takes the role of student information coordinator for the Gibson County Special School District.
This is the second year Relay For Life committees from across the county will join forces to host one event. The tentative schedule for June 15 is:
6 p.m. Opening Ceremony – presentation of honorary chairs, survivors’ lap and caregivers’ lap
7 School of Rock
7:20 Minute to Win It
7:30 Pet Parade
8 Blues Brothers
8:20 Minute to Win It
8:30 Line Dancing Class
9 Tony Burriss
9:20 Minute to Win It
9:30 Miss Greater Gibson County Maddie Vernon
9:45 Miss West Tennessee Abbie Bayless
10 Luminaria Ceremony
11 Fighting Back Ceremony