On the outside, Mercedes Wilson has it all. She’s a mother of four, a talk show personality on WBBZ TV, has a supportive, hardworking husband, runs a nonprofit, is about to be a published author, and is involved in many other charities. On the inside, she’s a go-getter and fighter with a winning attitude, full of love, who beat breast cancer and is on a mission to make a difference in the lives of others.
Wilson was born in Medina, N.Y., a canal town that is halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. She lived in both Medina and Lockport, and graduated from Medina High School. At the young age of 28 she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. After finding a lump, three separate doctors told her it was nothing to be concerned about. To ease her mind, she consulted a different doctor for a fourth opinion, and was sent to Roswell immediately. After eight rounds of chemo, a lumpectomy, 45 rounds of radiation, and a pill for five years to reduce the risk of the cancer returning, she is grateful to be cancer-free. The experience was difficult, but she made it through.
“Cancer was a beast, from losing my hair to not being able to sleep or walk due to the chemo having a horrible effect on my body,” Wilson said. “I can honestly say it was like getting knocked down with the flu every other week. Except each time it was harder to recoup. My body was tired, I couldn’t think straight, and I lost my taste buds. I was miserable. I tried my best to stay positive, but it was very hard.”
It was through Wilson’s experience with breast cancer that she started her nonprofit For Our Daughters Inc. When she was initially diagnosed, doctors asked her questions about her family history with the disease. She had no answers, and felt embarrassed, but was determined to not let other young women feel this way. She wanted to create an environment where young women were confident in their own skin and could speak up about their health in confidence to help them stay educated about their risks for breast cancer.
“I started out by going back to Medina and Lockport high schools to tell the young ladies to go home and learn their family history,” Wilson said. “The girls started speaking up to me about the reasons why they don’t speak up. I took that back and developed a curriculum to face the issues that stop young women from speaking up about their own health and wellness.
When she launched For Our Daughters in 2012, she was able to reach more than 700 women. Still going strong, the foundation was able to reach 1,650 young ladies in 2017. But that’s not all. In March of 2018, Wilson will be a published author on a topic she’s dreamed of since she was a little girl – giving back and helping others.
“My book “Hope” takes you on the journey of my life and you get to see my trials and how God brought me out,” Wilson said. “My inspiration came from the turn of events that happened after cancer. It was a tough time in my life and it made me reflect on how much I’ve been through and how I still made it. Many know me as the young woman that survived breast cancer and that is it. There is much more to my story and many times I did things out of my pain that would surprise some people. This book is to show people that if I can make it, so can they. This book is to give hope.”
Mercedes wants others to know that one diagnosis or hardship shouldn’t discourage them from living out their dreams. She believes that her experience with breast cancer made her into the strong woman she is today. Through all the ups and downs, she was able to weather the storm and inspire others to stay positive. She is an even better wife, mother, friend and worker because of what she had to go through and she encourages others that they can be better, too.
“Life is not over,” Wilson said. “It is OK to feel what you feel, allow yourself to go through the process. One of the biggest lessons that I had to accept after cancer was that my life will never be the same. I had to get used to a new normal. My memory was different, my perspective on life was way different. I learned a lot about myself in that process and I am still learning. Allow yourself to go through the range of emotions that come after breast cancer or any hardship and make it up in your mind that you will win. I feel like this made me go harder in life in every area because I appreciate life so much.”
And go harder she certainly does.
Mercedes begins her days by getting her older children, 15 and 11, off to school, while getting her youngest twins ready for the day. She or her husband takes them to school and then she heads into the TV station. After that its planning, working, and preparation for her nonprofit, getting scripts ready for the next day’s show and getting dinner on the table. From there, it’s off to sports practice and/or basketball games. After the youngest kids are in bed, she helps with homework and manages to get some television time, rest and relaxation in with her husband, who she describes as her hero and soulmate, before she goes to bed and rests to get up and do it all over again. On top of it all, she’s on the board of the YWCA of Niagara Frontier and WNYMMP. She also volunteers for Homespace, Greater Emmanuel Temple (her church), and Kevin Guest House.
Wilson doesn’t let anything get in her way. She’s out there every day advocating for a cause and her message of “Hope” is something we can all learn from. Struggles are a part of life, but every situation is temporary.
To learn more about Mercedes Wilson and her nonprofit, please visit www.forourdaughtersinc.org.