2020 Lights of Love Phoebe Cancer Center Albany Campus

Help brighten the lives of cancer patients throughout Southwest Georgia

2020 Tree Lighter, Phoebe Cancer Center - Albany, Monique Wilson

Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony: Thursday, December 3, 2020 @ 7 p.m.

While a cancer diagnosis might bring feelings of fear or anger for most folks, cancer survivor and patient advocate Monique Wilson had a different reaction upon learning back in 2016 that she had breast cancer—and that attitude continues to fuel her passion for service today.

“When people see me they see laughter,” she said. “They see joy. And I’m going to say people see that even more now because I feel I was given a new lease on life when I was diagnosed July 26, 2016 with breast cancer.”

And one of the important benefits of that new lease is that she is now in a prime position to help bring that message of hope and joy to others travelling the same road the New Jersey native has been traversing the past four years.

As Phoebe Cancer Center’s Survivorship Data Coordinator, and as the lead coordinator of the Georgia Chapter of the national Young Survival Coalition, Monique is uniquely positioned to help others who have been impacted by cancer.

“My role is not only as a face-to-face coordinator but as a state leader, in which I hold quarterly meetings with young survivors who come here to Phoebe as well as in the community, who just need that shoulder to lean on, that person to talk to, to encourage, to support them on their journey,” she said. “I’ve been doing that since I was diagnosed four years ago.”

Together with her husband, and steadying rock of support, Fred Wilson—himself a familiar fixture at Phoebe thanks to his enduring work as one of the hospital system’s “red coats,” responsible for welcoming, transporting and encouraging incoming and outgoing patients—Monique and the YSC have helped support hundreds of cancer patients through various fundraising efforts, including the annual Tour de Pink.

That event, which they started three years ago, is a multi-day bike ride event each October that raises money for the organi­zation on a national scale.

“We get on these itty bitty bicycles, which we call road bikes and we do that every year,” Monique said of the event. “We take three days in October, a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and we ride our bicycles 200 miles.”

Although Monique has had to endure her own cancer strug­gles, including 33 radiation treatments and a lumpectomy since being diagnosed, much of her focus stays firmly fixed on others and not on herself.

In fact, she said until she started arriving at Phoebe for her own treatments, most of her hospital colleagues had no idea she was waging her own cancer battle.

“I used to work in the cancer center back in 2005, when I first started at Phoebe, so the cancer center was not new to me,” she said. “But I moved to another position within the hospital organization, and when I was diagnosed and went through all of that, at that time I didn’t share it with anyone. My husband knew and his family, my in-laws. I didn’t even share it with my own family (her adult son, a fellow Phoebe employee, includ­ed) until the date of my surgery.”

While keeping what she was going through to herself certainly made things more challenging, Monique said she relied heav­ily on her faith to guide her and she knows that whatever God put her through, He was doing for a reason.

“I thank God for the power of prayer,” she said. “Because deep down, I really believe that what I went through I was going through to help somebody else in their process.”

Although it’s been four years since her surgery, Monique is still taking hormonal therapy—something she’ll be doing for a few more years—but her focus remains firmly on the well-being of others.

“My journey has not been easy,” she said. “But I’m striving every day.

“The advice that I could give to anyone facing breast cancer, or any kind of cancer or health issue, is don’t give up. Stay in the race.“One of the scriptures in the Bible it tells us that the race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but to the one that endures to the end. I know deep down that all of our help comes from the man above.”

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