Wendy works at Brock’s Supply where she sells aftermarket parts and supplies to auto recycling yards and body shops all across the nation. She enjoys talking to a variety of people every day. In an industry dominated by men, Wendy has found that her industry knowledge and customer service have strengthened the perception of women in the industry.
In October 2004, Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two weeks after her diagnosis, she flew to Wyoming to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Her father was already battling a rare form of bone cancer, so she was determined to fight so she could continue to support her father. She underwent a lumpectomy followed by 6 treatments of chemotherapy and 34 radiation treatments.
The lumpectomy was successful, and her doctors believed she was in remission, but, in August 2008, her left arm started aching. She recounts jumping on a trampoline with her niece and nephew and wanting to stop because her arm was in so much pain. Her family egged her on by saying, “Stop being such a baby,” so she kept jumping. Later that week, she went out with a group of friends and they decided to ride a mechanical bull. She was thrown from the bull and landed directly on her left shoulder. She was in so much pain, that she felt like “she was giving birth from her arm.” She went to the doctor where they did an MRI and found that her breast cancer had metastasized to bone cancer in her arm. The cancer was not curable, but treatable. To this day, she thanks the mechanical bull.
This time around, Wendy underwent 27 treatments of chemotherapy and 10 treatments of extreme radiation. Wendy commented that losing her hair was the hardest part of the treatment the first time–she didn’t want anyone to see her. But as she continued her fight against cancer, she realized how many people are impacted by cancer and that she was not alone in her journey. Wendy advised, “Cancer is a mind game, and you have to take control. Each day is one day closer to being done with chemotherapy. Chemo may slow me down, but it will not bring me down.”
Aside from two week-long hospital stays and despite the grueling chemotherapy treatments, Wendy has continued to work 40 hours a week at Brock’s Supply. She is thankful for the support her employers and co-workers have shown her throughout her treatment. She commented, “I could be sick at home or busy at work. And I need to work.” Although she has health insurance, Wendy’s deductibles, co-pays, and medication expenses total $8,000 – $10,000 per year.
Prior to her diagnosis, Wendy was very involved in gymnastics and led an active lifestyle. Now, she is limited to the amount of weight that she can lift because her bone will never fully heal. She joked, “Most people crave sweets, but all I crave is to do a cartwheel again.”
Wendy is currently taking medication that kills her estrogen-based cancer cells, helps strengthen her bones, and ultimately extends her life. She recently had a CAT scan to see how her body is responding to her current medicine. She has eight spots of bone cancer, three that are continuing to grow, so she will need to do a third round of chemotherapy and radiation. She will need to receive monthly treatment for the rest of her life to keep her cancer under control.
Wendy commented, “I refuse to feel sorry for myself. Cancer has taught me to live life to the fullest.” Before her diagnosis, Wendy was a very shy person, but cancer changed her outlook on life. She enjoys life more and challenges herself to do something new and exciting every week: skydiving, scuba diving, and traveling the world to name a few. She feels incredibly blessed to be surrounded by supportive friends and family. She has family in Wyoming, Maine, and Nebraska and a very close group of friends in Arizona. Wendy tries to travel to visit her family at least once a year but she is not always able to due to medical appointments and expenses.
Wendy realizes that her diagnosis is serious, but she won’t let her disease take control of her life. She is living proof that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Wendy remains hopeful and positive as she waits for a cure.
You have an opportunity to help Wendy Wilson in her battle against cancer. On October 11, 2014, the Arizona Auto Recycler’s Association (AARA) is hosting a golf tournament at Gold Canyon Ranch in Apache Junction, Arizona to raise funds to help Wendy with her medical expenses. To participate, please complete a registration form online.