During testing, and prior to receiving her diagnosis, Wilson said she heard over and over, “You’re too young, don’t worry about it.” Then, when she got to the appointment, she said it was like ugh, “Yeah, you’re 28, but you do need to worry about it, because you do have it.”
Wilson immediately had a barrage of appointments.
“I went from having my primary care physician to having three or four doctors. One for surgery, one for oncology, and one for plastic surgery, if I had decided to do anything with that. I went from zero to a hundred really quick when it comes to the variety of doctors that entered my life in those first three months,” she said.
Wilson had a couple of surgeries, four months of chemotherapy, and radiation in 2005. She still sees the same breast surgeon and oncologist today.
“The next step was just to keep monitoring me, and here I am 19 years later, still going to a couple of same doctors at least once a year to check me over and make sure I remain what I like to call ‘boring.’ I like to be boring when I go to those doctors. I don’t want anymore news,” she said.
“They gave me a ton of choices on what I could do. It was like ... here are your options. Do you want to do a mastectomy? Do you want to do a double mastectomy? I chose a lumpectomy,” she said. “What that means is they went in and took the cancer cell tumor out of me, and they took some extra just in case, and they tested the lymph nodes while they were in there. So, basically, I got the tumor cut out of me. That was my choice at the time.”
Wilson said her family has been a huge support to her, especially her husband, Emmanuel. At the time, Wilson had been married for seven years with two children, a nine-year-old, and a one-year-old. She said her employer was also supportive.
“I was blessed to have my husband support me, my mother, father, and my siblings, and my mother-in-law. I remember people would bring me food. My co-workers would bring food over to the house. When I had my surgery, pizza was showing up. It was just amazing. People didn’t even call and say do you want or need anything? They would send stuff, and they were just being awesome,” Wilson said.
Her daughter even won a “Cancer Family Care” award at age 10 for being helpful.
Wilson said, “I had a one-year-old, and it was difficult. She was nine years old, and she was such a great help. I wrote up an essay about her, submitted it, and she won an award.”
Wilson is a volunteer and has served as a team captain with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer since 2012. She said that includes raising money and going to the annual Making Strides of Greater Cincinnati walk, which will be Saturday at Yeatman’s Cove.
“In my opinion, a team captain has two jobs. One job is to gather folks that want to come walk with you on the actual walk day for your city. So, for Cincinnati, it’s Oct. 21 this year. The other job is to fund-raise. They have different levels you can have goals for, and also, encourage your team members to fundraise,” Wilson said.
Wilson has raised her goal this year to $2,500 from her previous goal of $1,000. She raised $2,102 with nine days to go before the walk.
Her team is called “Count It All Joy.”
She has also done other volunteer work for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the American Cancer Society, including speaking engagements, presentations and interviews.
“I don’t remember how I first found out about Making Strides, but I can definitely tell you what keeps me coming back. As I said, my cancer diagnosis was back in 2004, and there wasn’t as much Internet, websites and social media like it is today. So, I got involved the old-fashioned way by making a phone call,” Wilson said. “ ... When I made that phone call, they helped me understand what are some of my next steps, not so much from the medical side of it, but more from a how do I go from hearing that news, take the next step, and then ... the next step.”
Wilson said she learned about the different support programs they had, which deal with the everyday living and the support side of breast cancer.
“Being able to have that outreach, and having somebody answer the call has always been near and dear to my heart, and I want to make sure that anybody who hears that news has what I had then. But also, I’ve since learned how much they do with research, and how much they do to support families, and caregivers. So, it just has grown, and it’s near and dear to my heart,” Wilson said.
From the American Cancer Society, Wilson learned about Road to Recovery, and Reach for Recovery. The organization sent Wilson a lot of brochures, pamphlets and other materials she could read. From the Making Strides side of it, Wilson said she gained a community.
“There’s an energy, and it’s a vibe being part of something that is here to help people remember those who we’ve lost, support those who are going through treatment right now, and celebrate all of those people, including survivors. There’s just a connection that you get with Making Strides,” Wilson said.
Wilson lives in Westwood with her husband, Emmanuel. They have been married for 26 years and have two adult children.
How to go
What: Making Strides of Greater Cincinnati
Where: Yeatman’s Cove, 705 E Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati
When: 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21
Signup and more info: https://signup.cancer.org