Discovering Breast Cancer
Two years went by between the time Denise Wilson’s husband noticed her breasts were not the same, and the time she went to see a doctor. Difficult times, including the loss of her husband and her oldest son within an eight-month period, kept her focus on others.
It wasn’t until she started having problems breathing in 2006 that her health became a priority. “I finally went to my primary care doctor. He thought I had a chest infection and gave me antibiotics,” Denise recalled. “It didn’t work, so I did a chest x-ray. It showed that there was fluid in both of my lungs.”
Denise was sent to the ER, where she had the fluid drained and some tests performed. A couple days later, the verdict was in. “The doctor told me I had breast cancer.” Denise said. “I was in shock, but I had a good friend with me that day. That helped.”
A Fighting Spirit
After the shock wore off, Denise told herself and her friends, “I have to survive this because of my son. There’s just no way I’m going anywhere. Not for awhile.”
Telling her son, in his twenties at the time, that she had cancer was not going to be easy, especially after having lost his dad and his older brother the year before. Fortunately, Denise had a good support system. “My surgeon and long-time friend asked me if I had told my son yet. I told him I hadn’t, that I wasn’t sure how to say it. He said he’d come over and we’d tell him together.” Her son took the news pretty well.
The Winning Combination
Denise came to be a patient of Dr. Perez because her primary care doctor recommended him. “He’s a genius. I’m serious. I’ve seen the certificates on the wall. He’s been to lots of prestigious schools. I trust him with my life,” she said. “In my eyes, he’s one of the best oncololgists. And I’m not just saying that. I really mean it in my heart.”
Denise credits the fact that she’s still going strong 10 years after her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis to two things. “Dr. Perez and my attitude. They go hand-in-hand.” She is still on what she calls ‘maintenance meds’, but is doing well. She follows up with Dr. Perez regularly. “He’s very soft spoken, but I do get him laughing. I’m very proud of that.”
This Mother’s Day, Denise plans to spend quality time with her son and his family up at Tahoe. “I’m just happy living my life. It’s a happy life.”