Family of Fighters Face Challenge of Breast Cancer Head On
Three family members diagnosed with cancer in 3 months; work to grow TLC Tote program.
Cancer is a tough word to hear. It’s that much tougher when it’s heard a second or third time. But for one Western New York family, that was the challenge earlier this year. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and intervention, it’s a story with a happy ending.
Jolene Wilson scheduled her first mammogram shortly after her 40th birthday. As a busy banquet manager with a young family, she wasn’t sure that she could find the time to make an appointment, but Windsong Mobile Mammo was making a stop at her primary care practice the same day as her routine doctor’s appointment, making it easy and convenient to schedule an exam. She signed up, and following her test, she received some unexpected news – there were several suspicious areas found in her exam. The biopsy that followed confirmed the worst – she had breast cancer – and Jolene prepared to face this battle head on with the doctors and staff at Windsong.
Genetic testing conducted as part of Jolene’s treatment showed a genetic mutation, and her mother, Lynn, was prompted to take a second look with the specialists at Windsong of a previous area of concern from a prior mammogram at a different facility. As a result of Lynn’s second exam, she discovered that the suspicious finding was in fact cancer, and within the course of just two months, both mother and daughter were fighting breast cancer together.
There’s an old adage, that bad news often comes in threes, and within a month of Jolene and Lynn being diagnosed, Jolene’s mother-in-law was also found to have breast cancer. But thanks to the early detection and intervention by the team at Windsong, today all three women are Windsong Survivors.
“People think that a breast cancer diagnosis is just about learning you have the disease, but it is so much more than that,” said Jolene. The Windsong team worked together with Jolene’s family, from patient navigators who helped the women understand each step in their diagnosis and treatment process, to the biopsies, surgery and radiation treatment needed to eliminate their cancers. At Windsong – and through their family bond – the women learned about the struggles of breast cancer and together, with the support of their family, friends, colleagues and fellow survivors, worked to successfully face the challenges and treat their cancers.
The process was also eye-opening for the women, who learned about the significant costs of cancer care – not only emotionally and mentally, but financially. While their health insurance coverage kept their respective costs down, they learned the true cost of care, and came to really empathize with those who face significant out-of-pocket costs on top of the stress and strains that cancer takes on body and mind. It’s why they are working hard to help others in their breast cancer fight.
Through a partnership with the Breast Cancer Network and the newly founded Windsong Cares Foundation, Jolene and her mother have raised funds for the TLC Tote program, currently supported by the radiologists at Windsong and distributed through the Breast Cancer Network. The program provides totes to those recently diagnosed with breast cancer. These totes are filled with information on what to expect during the breast cancer journey. Thanks to a successful bottle and can fundraising drive, Jolene and her mother have added personal care items they found helpful during their battle. In only a few months, they have raised over $2000 thanks to the generosity of their neighbors and those that have been touched by their story on social media. They plan to continue raising funds for the Windsong Cares Foundation to support its mission - to improve access, education and research to reduce the mortality rate of cancer in our community.
Windsong is humbled by the determination and commitment shown by this fundraising duo just months after their treatment was completed. “Windsong Cares Foundation is eager to support the efforts of Jolene and Lynn as we collectively provide support to breast cancer patients throughout our community,” said Dr. Thomas Summers, President of the Foundation.
Each of us are impacted by what life throws our way, and we have the choice to let those challenges shape our mindset or accept the challenge as a mantle to do better for those who face the same fight. Jolene and her mother have taken on their battle and have made the inspiring decision to help others, to lessen their burdens and help to make a difference.
Their "More Than Strong" Fundraiser on October 17th will raise money to support the mission of Windsong Cares Foundation. The chicken barbeque and basket raffle is planned for the Hamburg Moose Club at 45 Church Street in Hamburg. If you are interested in donating or need additional information, please contact Jolene Wilson at 997-9752 or Lynn Hansen at 796-1881. For more information on Windsong Cares, please visit windsongwny.com/foundation/.