Tabitha Harkins benefit set Saturday in Tolar


The Tabitha Harkins benefit Saturday will help a young couple in Tolar with mounting medical expenses related to cancer treatment.

The benefit at Tolar High School begins at 5 p.m. with a brisket dinner (by donation) and a silent auction from 5-7:45 p.m. The live auction is at 8 p.m.

A gun raffle is planned for a “Tommy” gun, model T1SB .45 ACP semi-automatic rifle. First National Bank in Tolar has raffle tickets for sale, or tickets can be purchased at the event.

Tabitha, 24, and her husband Brian Harkins have been married two years, and are both graduates of Tolar High School. She has battled stage 4 melanoma cancer for the past five years.

Tabitha has had numerous surgeries to remove the cancer. Most recently, doctors removed portions of three ribs and part of her diaphragm. After surgery, scans revealed another tumor on a rib directly behind her kidney.

Tabitha’s mother, Alatha Swaim, contacted the Cancer Centers of America in Zion, Ill., where specialists felt they could treat Tabitha without the possibility of “killing” a kidney.

After two days of radiation, Tabitha was on the road to recovery. Then she collapsed in her hotel room with a severe headache and dizziness. Returning to the Cancer Center for a CT scan, a golf ball-sized tumor was discovered on her brain. Surgery was scheduled immediately and the tumor was removed successfully.

At this time, Tabitha is receiving radiation on her side and will begin radiation on her head in two weeks. The additional surgery and radiation has extended her stay in Zion from five weeks to possibly 10 weeks.

“Tabitha has endured many painful days, yet she and Brian continue to ‘give God the glory’ and remain strong in their faith that she will be healed,” said Tonya Harkins, Brian’s mother.

“These two young people are truly amazing, always trying to cheer up everyone around them, and encouraging the members of their Prayer Train with daily Facebook updates,” she added.

Tabitha signs off her updates with, “XOXO … one tough cookie.”

Tabitha is employed with First Financial Bank in Glen Rose. Brian, who is employed with Bennett Water Well Services, has remained in Tolar working while Tabitha receives treatments in Illinois.

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