Wilma Horner: Survivor
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. For many, like Wilma Horner, of Bridge City, she is more than aware, she is a survivor.
Wilma Horner, broker and owner of Platinum ReMax in Bridge City, was diagnosed with a malignant and aggressive form of breast cancer in March 2010 after a standard wellness exam. Initially, she went to the doctor because of a problem with her foot. But, she told the doctor his diagnosis was incorrect. She said she knew breast cancer would give “false positives” on the disease he was diagnosing her with. Later, she was proven to be right when the lump had grown large enough to be seen and was discovered during a mammogram.
She says an early mammogram wouldn’t have found the cancer in her case because of it being so deep, but says women should be in tune with their bodies and follow what is right for them
Her husband was about to retire from his job after 38 years, but this would have to be put on hold as she fought for her life.
“I turned his life upside down,” she said.
But, she thought, “Okay this is just another obstacle. What are we going to do about it?”
My only other thoughts were ones of concern for my family and agents,” Horner said..
Horner along with her doctors decided the best treatment was a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. The chemo began to take a hard toll on her than some of the previous stages of treatment. Wilma, however, refuses to let it take her out of her own life and remained steadfast.
What Wilma did not do is complain. Her hair was gone and with her immune system suppressed her skin thinned. Food lost its’ appeal and fatigue was a constant companion.
“The way I look at it, I am not the first and I won’t be the last.” she said.
Her son’s motto helped to keep her going,” 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 fro her production levels and planned to kick it into even higher gear. Her coworkers were in awe of her strength, “She doesn’t let go. We are all so proud of her,” they said.
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. I called their parents and they told them in their own way,” explained Wilma. “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 had a few beautiful scarves but 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!” she said.
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.
She proudly revealed her bald head.
“Bald makes a statement,”Horner said. “We are a survivor.”
Still, there is no doubt, is spite of the positive façade she promoted, the chemotherapy drugs hit hard. FEC (Fluorouracil (5-FU), epirubicin, cyclophosphamide) was a cocktail administered to her. She traveled to Houston to get her treatments at M.D. Anderson weekly and then not as frequently as the treatments progressed for six months.
Through it all, she went to work and pushed forward. She later had reconstruction surgery. Since then, life has gone on and Horner said she is doing “great.” She still has obstacles to overcome. The type of cancer she had has a history of reoccurring. But, Horner said she will re-write history and says she tells the doctors that is their opinion and not one she shares.
Horner wants everyone to know, “You can have cancer and be a survivor. I am fine.”
It is her hope to help others learn that life does not stop with a cancer diagnosis.
“This was a journey,” Horner said. “My journey includes helping somebody else.”
The reconstruction of her breasts was done in Feb. 2012. It was done in stages of removal and then types of implants that are used to slowly expand the skin used in the final operation. Infectious risk during this process rose with each dose of FEC as the drug mixture killed off good and bad cells, those that fight infection as well as cancer cells. But, she managed to overcome these obstacles as well.
“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,” she said.
This is her declaration. Horner is modest about her position in the lives of others, but it is evident she makes a very strong imprint as she lets her message be known, after all, she is a survivor.
Wilma Horner was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2010. She lets it be known she is not a cancer victim, but a survivor. Cancer was just an obstacle she had to overcome in her journey of life.