Wilma Horner fighting breast cancer, already a survivor
Breast Cancer Awareness month has descended on our nation, nut for one Bridge City woman, that awareness is an on going, permanent part of her life and has been since March. Wilma Horner, broker and owner of Platinum ReMax in Bridge City, was diagnosed with a malignant and aggressive form of breast cancer after a standard wellness exam found a small lump. Her response?
“This is just another obstacle,” Horner explains. “What are we going to do about it? My only other thoughts were ones of concern for my family and agents.”
What she and her doctors decided would be the best treatment was a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. The chemo is beginning to take a harder toll on her than some of the previous stages of treatment. Wilma, however, refuses to let it take her out of her own life.
“She tries to be Superwoman,” said Cryste Horner, Wilma’s former daughter-in-law, who is still very close to her.
Cryste came in June to pitch in and help at the ReMax office as a receptionist.
“We all try to pitch in and help out. Even I have shown a few homes.” Cryste, who is working toward her license is one of nine people, the others being independent agents that are in the office location. They are her family away from home.
Another agent, Darla Bertrand, has taken on the organizing of a benefit, the funds of which, will help to off-set the expenses for Wilma’s medical care that are not covered by insurance.
“My husband planned to retire in August after 38 years on the job,” Wilma said. “That’s why I decided I had better get all my checkups out of the way. It puts a new perspective on retiring.”
James Horner did not retire, nor does he see it in the near future. It is a part of the issues that plague those who are hit by unexpected devastating health crisis. They have been husband and wife for 38 years as well.
What Wilma does not do is complain. Her hair is gone, her immune system is suppressed and her skin has thinned, food has no appeal to her whatsoever and fatigue is a constant companion.
“The way I look at it, I am not the first and I won’t be the last. Its like my son says, I am rodeo clown, I get knocked down, I dust off, I keep going.”
There is a great deal of pride for her from those around her. She was at the peaking career boom when she was diagnosed. She had received awards for her production levels and planned to kick it into even higher gear.
As Bertrand puts it, “She doesn’t let go. We are all so proud of her.”
For Horner, this is just another part of the process we all refer to as life.
“When we knew the hair would go, we told the grand kids,” Wilma said. “I called their parents and they told them in their own way. My granddaughter wanted to know about my eyelashes, my two grandsons suggested maybe getting a mohawk.”
Chuckles are had over this and she tells how her son and grandson sent her a photo on the day she went in and had her hair completely removed, in which they had both shaved their heads too.
“I said absolutely no wig! I have a few beautiful scarves but have since decided to go natural. I don’t care how the hair comes back in, just that it does. On the other hand, no bad hair days!” Wilma also shares that children are fun, they are curious and just want to know why she has no hair.
“Adults can act stupid though,” she confides.
Still, there is no doubt, is spite of the positive façade she promotes, the newest chemotherapy drugs are starting to hit hard. FEC (a combination chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer) is the most recent cocktail that is being administered to her. She travels to Houston to get her treatments at M.D.Anderson every three weeks. Wilma will receive four months of the treatment, which will have a progressively dramatic affect to her physical body with each dose.
She finds she is loosing days, but keeps coming into work and pushing forward.
The reconstruction of her breasts has had to be put on hold. Done in stages of removal and then types of implants that are used to slowly expand the skin used in the final operation, she had a slight infection recently due to the splitting of her skin around one of the stitched in extenders.
“The chemo drugs have thinned my skin,” Wilma said. “One doctor wanted to remove them but I don’t want to go backward.”
Infectious risk rise with each dose of FEC as the drug mixture kills off good and bad cells, those that fight infection as well as cancer cells.
“The way I look at this, we’ve had many to fight that give us courage to fight and I will be one of those who survives to help others fight.”
This is her declaration. Her prognosis is good. She says a mammogram wouldn’t have found the cancer in her case, but says woman should be in tune with their bodies and follow what is right for them. She is modest about her position in the lives of others, but it is evident she makes a very strong imprint. The benefit is evidence of this as well.
“There will be music and an auction, entertainment and food,” explains Bertrand who is heading the event. They are still looking for donation for the auction or any help that will make it a successful benefit. Oct. 16 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Bridge City Community