In 2006, at the age of 39, Beth Vernon was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Doctors told her it was aggressive due her age and pathology reports, so the young mother of two girls – ages 8 and 5 at the time - made the decision to have a double mastectomy to prevent recurrence. Surgery revealed a somewhat large 4mm tumor. What followed were six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.
Just six months later, her husband, Jim, a PGA Professional, was diagnosed with Melanoma. Their world had been turned upside down…but they had the support of each other, family and friends to fight help them fight through.
Jim and Beth have a unique tie to Heather Farr, one of the women who inspired the formation of the Val Skinner Foundation. Jim is the PGA Director of Golf at Hermitage Golf Course in Hermitage, Tenn. For years, Hermitage was the site of the Sara Lee Classic, a popular stop on the LPGA Tour. It was also one of Heather’s favorite events.
She played one of her final events – a six-hole skins game – at Hermitage in 1992, one year before she died. Course owner Mike Eller, whose wife is a breast cancer survivor, and country music star Vince Gill helped raise funds for Heather. Today, a plaque at the course commemorates Heather and her courageous fight.
As Jim and Beth struggled through their treatments, they drew strength from thinking of what Heather must have endured. Jim, who was named the 2013 Tennessee PGA Golf Professional of the Year, recently completed his 20th year at Hermitage. It’s fitting that the Val Skinner Foundation come full circle to honor a couple that have a connection to Heather.
Today, both are cancer free and they and their daughters – Bailey and Anna – continue to be advocates for the eradication of breast cancer. Beth was featured in Martina McBride’s 2011 video for the song “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” She has also worked tirelessly for the TN Breast Cancer Coalition to raise thousands for breast cancer research, much of it through a golf tournament held at Hermitage Golf Course.