SPONSORED: Local mother turns battle with cancer into a new passion for research

Published: Nov. 13, 2018 at 3:04 PM CST
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In our second part of a new series Buddy Check 13, a collaboration between WEAU and Marshfield Clinic Health Systems, we’re sharing the story of a young mother, who overcame ovarian cancer and turned her fight to research.

“I just had a gut feeling something wasn't right.”

Anna Wilson’s gut feeling was correct, something wasn’t right.

“I remember asking right before hand, there’s no way this could be cancer right?”

But it was; and an ultra sound in November 2016, led to the 34-year-old mother's diagnosis a month later.

“January 6th came around and that was my hysterectomy,” Anna said. “They went in there and took out the uterus and they looked in the ovaries and found 2-inch tumors in both of the ovaries as well. So I remember coming to, and maybe an hour after Dr. Larson came in and said, you not only have endometrial cancer, you also have ovarian cancer.”

But it wasn't the fact that Anna would lose her hair from chemo, or not be able to enjoy her favorite beer; it was the fact that her vision of expanding their family was gone in the blink of an eye.

“The good days are starting to overpower the bad days, but there are still days I sit here and I’m like, ‘What the hell happened?’ In a matter of hours, my choice to have more kids, we wanted 3 or 4 kids, that was just taken away.”

With Anna’s upbeat personality and love from family and friends, she was able to find a new passion to devote her time, to get back at what took so much away.

“I immediately saw the job description and said Mark [Anna’s husband], I emailed it to him and I called him and said, this is what I want to do.”

Anna is now the Clinical Research Coordinator at Marshfield Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

“By me going back to work especially in oncology research, it’s kind of my way of saying, ‘ok cancer, you took a lot from me, but I’m doing things in the background that it’s going to get you back. Karma is coming cancer, don't you worry.’”

According to the clinic’s website, more than 50 percent of cancer patients are cured, largely due to laboratory and clinical research leading to the discovery of new cancer treatments.

“Inevitably that’s true, but we're nowhere near where we need to be to increase the cure rate from 50 to 60…70…80 or 100 percent, or preventing cancer from developing which would be another avenue of research,” said Dr. Dean Delmastro.

Dr. Delmastro is part of MCHS’s Oncology and Hematology department. He works with patients a part of clinical trials and says while participation is low across the country for clinical trials; the numbers have gone up in recent times.

“The funders of research have realized it isn’t just the youngest and healthiest of patients who unfortunately have cancer who need to participate in trials to test new therapies, it is the average person,” Dr. Delmastro said. “Because we live in an aging world and cancer is more common as one gets older, many of our patients are geriatric.”

While Anna had wished she was a part of a clinical trial, there was not any available for her. So, she’ll continue to work from behind the scenes.

“This is my way of sticking it to cancer,” Anna said. “Every time they sign up on a clinical trial, they’re doing something that’s going to help people in the long run. We won’t see the published results right away, but that’s my dream, that I enrolled people on that study and I helped coordinate so they could get to their appointments. So in the long run we can eradicate cancer.”

So that way, people like Anna can continue "sticking it to cancer."

Anna continues her research fight to help find a cure as Marshfield Clinic is 1 of 46 sites in the nation that's a part of the largest cancer research collaborative known as NCORP. It’s a partnership allowing the clinic to offer several clinical trials to patients, to help find a possible answer.

This story is sponsored by Marshfield Clinic”