Jerry Wilson and his wife, Jan, have always enjoyed woodcarving and spending time with their two daughters and their families. They never expected that cancer would become a part of their lives.
In February 2010, the Wilson's world was turned upside down. After having a skin spot removed, further testing indicated that Jerry had cancer. He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia on February 1, 2010.
Because of the rapid progression of Jerry's type of leukemia, he began chemotherapy almost immediately. Jerry's first round of chemotherapy lasted seven days and the treatment was given continuously 24 hours a day for those seven days. The first day that Jerry was admitted to begin his chemotherapy, a Stoddard volunteer approached he and his wife and recommended a support group that afternoon that Jan could attend. While Jerry was beginning his first treatment of chemotherapy, Jan attended the support group for leukemia and lymphoma patients.
"Jan was unsure of what to expect but was so happy she made the decision to attend the support group that day. We were both scared to death about the entire process and they helped calm a number of fears," Jerry said.
Along with the support group, Jerry and his wife were so grateful for the support they received from the physicians and staff at Stoddard.
"The hardest moments were the first steps of our cancer journey. We were both scared about the fear of the unknown. Everyone took their time with us in explaining the process and answered all of our questions, even those we didn't know that we had," said Jerry.
After all of the support they received, Jerry and Jan were excited for the opportunity to give back to John Stoddard and to cancer patients in any way possible. Jerry created special woodcarvings and donated them to the Stoddard Adult Oncology Inpatient Unit where they could be displayed to help make the unit feel a little more like home for patients and their families. Jan donates her time and all the materials to create special angel pins that she sells and then donates 100 percent of the sale price to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They recently made a donation of $1,400.
Jerry and Jan are still actively involved in the support group at John Stoddard Cancer Center and Jerry has recently become a volunteer on the Stoddard Adult Oncology Inpatient Unit.
"Its just one small way that I can give back for all of the great care I received," Jerry said. "We always enjoyed the volunteer's coming in to see how we were doing and I hope to return the favor."
After chemotherapy and treatment, Jerry is happy to report that his cancer is now in remission. When reflecting on his cancer journey and his experience at John Stoddard Cancer Center, Jerry has some advice for those experiencing the same hardship.
"Think positive and laugh as much as you can during this journey. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am going to be there to see it. Do not lay there in bed and feel sorry for yourself. You have to fight this and count it as one more setback in life. Life if full of setbacks, but that is what makes us stronger. Learn from these setbacks and move forward; as time passes, so will this."