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Rock for Love 5 / Story Spotlight No. 1

Do you know what happens when love is genuine? It can conquer any hardship and will grow into something beyond anyone's expectation. Now in its fifth year, the Rock for Love benefit concerts have had growing success year after year because the love for its cause is truly genuine. In the last few years, I've helped promote the concert by interviewing the musicians involved in the coordination and the performances but this year wanted to focus on the people benefiting from all this love - the patients of the Church Health Center. Jeff Hulett sent me two inspiring stories he wrote for the CHC newsletter that I wanted to reshare here today. Read the first story below, and come out to support Rock for Love starting tonight at the Hi-Tone.


“This is when it hit me that I was in a place of healing, and it was time for me to fight my illness,” she said. “You can’t let your illness conquer you. You conquer it.”

When it comes to sisterly love, Levorida and Mironda Rollins are like two peas in a pod. They are inseparable. So much so, that they’re often asked if they’re twins. Mironda is the older sister by four years, but they act more like best friends than sisters.

“We have our differences,” said Mironda – she attends Living Life In Victory Ministries church while her sister attends Greater Imani – “but we are tight.”

The sisters live together in north Memphis with five boys ranging in ages from 7 to 14. Levorida has two boys and Mironda has three. In fact, it was their boys who lead them to Church Health Center Wellness. The boys came here last summer for church camp and just raved about how great it was.

Their doctors had also encouraged them to join, so the two agreed to give it a try, and now they’re very glad they did. Members since last June, the sisters have not only made great strides, they have found a supportive community that has helped them make healthy, positive changes.

“Everybody is focused on doing better here,” Levorida said. “When you first walk through these doors and see these pretty smiles, it does something to you. It’s like one big, happy family here.”

Being in community with others headed in the same direction means the sisters are also inspiring others around them to take their health more seriously and embrace healthy changes.

With such positive, can-do attitudes, you’d probably be surprised to know that both of them are struggling with serious health issues.

In April 2008, Levorida was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery, went through chemotherapy and radiation, but unfortunately the treatments led to even more health problems, including avascular necrosis (deterioration of the bone), kidney disease, liver problems and digestive issues.

“When you find out you have breast cancer, it’s devastating,” said Levorida. “I was only 30 years old and I thought I might have to lose one of my breasts. I wasn’t married, and I wondered if anyone would have me. Would I have the support I needed to make it through it?”

Levorida has already had two hip replacements, and once she gets back from her family reunion this summer, she plans to have knee replacements in both legs as well.

This is the point in the story where you well up and say, “My God, the poor woman.”


The Rollins sisters, who are not the self-pitying types, say they draw their strength from God.

“When life gets hard, God puts everyone that you need to get through it in your path,” said Levorida. “This place is such a blessing.”

In September 2008, on the heels of Levorida’s breast cancer diagnosis, Mironda was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous symptom. MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve impulses are slowed down or stopped. Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or even months.

“It snuck up on me,” Mironda said. “The first couple of months I was in denial and didn’t know what to do. I lost my job and was looking for answers.”

Mironda was also going through a divorce and was worried about how she was going to take care of her children. Thankfully, she had the support of her family and her faith community, but she still struggled to make sense of all that was happening in her life. She was looking for anything that would help her remain positive and moving forward.

That’s when she saw it.

“Be faithful. Be focused. Be connected” right there on the Church Health Center Wellness Sports Court bulletin board she’d passed hundreds of times before. The message changes almost every day, but this day was different… it was as if it had been written just for her.

“This is when it hit me that I was in a place of healing, and it was time for me to fight my illness,” she said. “You can’t let your illness conquer you. You conquer it.”

Thankfully, Levorida and Mironda have a great team of doctors that care for them, all of whom have encouraged them to work on their health goals at Church Health Center Wellness.

More and more doctors in our community are starting to realize that Church Health Center Wellness is a great place to send their patients who need extra hand-holding to make lasting changes. After all, we are the only certified Medical Fitness Facility in the city. That means we have staff trained in helping people with chronic diseases exercise safely.

One such staffer is Wellness Education Coordinator Amber Weed, who has worked with Levorida and Mironda through our Healthy Bodies weight loss and weight management program. Weed says she is inspired by their positive attitudes amidst such trying circumstances in their lives.

“They were both so successful because of their open mindedness about learning how to live healthier lives,” Weed said. “They’re always friendly, and I always enjoy seeing them around the Center.”

Once they went through Healthy Bodies, the Rollins sisters immediately started attending the community cooking classes on Thursdays, where Church Health Center Wellness Education Coordinator and chef Carolyn Nichols encourages participants to introduce healthier foods and ingredients into the household setting.

“We bring a lot of the recipes we cook in class home to the family,” Levorida said.

“The boys love them, especially the fruit crepes and corn casserole,” Mironda added.

Nichols said the classes are popular with lots of members, including the sisters. “In the kitchen we make changes to everyday recipes people are familiar with. We incorporate healthy, economical ingredients while ensuring the food tastes great.”

After cooking class is over, Levorida and Mironda usually head upstairs to our sports court, where they walk around the track, stretch and then exercise on the elliptical machines.

They also talk and visit with other members and friends they’ve met along the way.

“You hear people’s stories and share your own stories and it encourages you to keep going,” said Mironda. “Working out here is good for us because it releases a lot of our stress and takes our minds off of things for awhile.”

Let’s face it, struggling with two debilitating diseases while raising a family is no easy task, and everyone needs an outlet to release stress.

“Raising five boys is hard, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Levorida. “You’ve got to be positive and not let your mind get so overwhelmed.”

Things have gotten better for both sisters as they continue to seek treatment and work on becoming healthier and stronger. They continue to test new recipes from the Church Health Center kitchen at home and share their experiences with family and friends.

The Church Health Center is much more than a clinic, and our wellness center is much more than your average gym. We are proud that our members have told us that “spiritual guidance,” “compassion” and “being a safe-haven for my kids” are reasons why they come to Church Health Center Wellness.

“Coming here with my sister – it’s our thing – we started as a team and we’re not going to stop until we reach our goals,” said Levorida. “Always look for the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re doing better and we will keep on fighting.”

Photo via Jeff Hulett, Church Health Center. 

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