Howard Univ. Hospital surgical oncologist beats breast cancer

Surgeon fighting breast cancer is also a survivor. (ABC7)

Doctors treat a wide range of conditions and diseases. They have all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. But it's not every day that a breast cancer patient has a surgeon who is also a survivor.

In 2013, Dr. Lori Wilson, a Howard University Hospital surgical oncologist and breast cancer survivor, received a diagnosis she never expected.

Even after several years working in oncology, cancer was simply not on her radar. Instead, she was focused on raising her son, then 18 months old.

"I was devastated," she said. "You know, honestly, when I found out, in my heart of hearts, I knew there was something going on. But I was devastated to know it was on both sides."

A mammogram showed lumps in both breasts. One of them was triple negative, a much more aggressive kind of cancer.

"I didn't expect that diagnosis. I wasn't particularly high risk," Wilson said.

Her extensive medical knowledge was a blessing. But in some ways, she said it was also a burden.

Still, she approached her own prognosis and treatment as a patient, not as a doctor.

"I wanted everything explained to me. I wanted expert opinion," she said. "I wanted to have people speak to me in the same fashion they would [speak] to any other patient."

Dr. Wilson said fighting cancer herself opened her eyes. Her treatment included a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and now hormone therapy.

"It can be overwhelming," she said. "And the time frame that we ask patients to make very life-changing decisions, can be very short."

Three years later, she is healthy and sharing her own experience - her tears and her prayers - with other women on the same journey.

Breast cancer survivor Joan Oboite said, "She hears you. She listens to you. You can feel that she's feeling what you're feeling."

Dr. Wilson said she is also very proud of Howard's partnership with the Komen organization, working with local groups to reduce health disparities among under resourced and undeserved women.

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