Lifelong Caps fan returns to Capital One Arena after beating cancer
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
For one lifelong Washington Capitals fan, Wednesday's game was a milestone – her first time at Capital One Arena since doctors declared her cancer free.
"I've been a Caps fan since I was a kid. When I was very little, my grandparents had season tickets to the Caps, so they would take us to games whenever they could," said Amanda Wilson, who grew up in Northern Virginia. "So ever since I was very young I've been going to Caps games and that just continued on as I got older."
Wilson first made headlines during the team's Stanley Cup run.
At the time, she'd been recently diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer and was getting treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
"The only thing people kept telling me was, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry,'" said Amanda. "So to me, it was like getting a death sentence. And luckily I had a doctor that pointed us to the Mayo Clinic."
Once there, she learned she would have to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and eventually surgery as she fought for her life.
It was around that same time that the Capitals began their Stanley Cup run.
"Once they started winning I was like this could be a good thing," said Amanda's husband, Scott Wilson. "You know, as a husband, you're just trying to find anything to district her, keep her going, and keep her positive."
Looking back, the Wilson family says the Capitals did that and more.
"It was just incredible," said Amanda. "We were watching every single game and they went further and further."
She was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment in Minnesota when her best friend, a Capitals' season ticket holder, called her in May.
"She called and asked me how I was feeling," said Amanda. "She asked if I was feeling okay and up to going to a game."
The Washington Post and ESPN both did stories on the journey that followed, as Amanda traveled back to D.C. to attend Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
"Magical is a word I've used to describe how it all fit into what was happening in my life," she said. "It was just magical for us in a time that we needed a little magic."
It's magic that the Wilson family will always be grateful for.
"Tears of joy," they said, when asked about Amanda's reaction on the night the Capitals won their first ever Stanley Cup championship.
Then in July, she underwent surgery as the final step in her cancer treatment.
"They were able to get what they call clear margins all the way around the cancer," she said. "So at this point I'm cancer free, and I continue to pray that the scans come back free of cancer and clear."
Now that she's finally starting to feel like herself, Amanda and Scott said Wednesday's game against rival Pittsburgh seemed like the perfect time to go back to Capital One Arena.
"I might cry at the game, because I've been wanting to go. We've been watching every game from home of course," she said. "I'm just really excited, that not only can I go, but I also feel really good. And that's a wonderful feeling, you know?"
She credits the Capitals as being a big part of her recovery.
"It was just what we needed at just the right moment," said Scott. “Very special.”