I first started working on TV in Milwaukee, WI when I was 23 years old. I was as green as they come, giving traffic reports and doing feature stories for the morning news. I had no business being on television, but I had the eagerness of youth on my side and a team of people to learn from who were the best in the industry.
One of those people was a woman named Melodie Wilson. Melodie covered politics for the nightly news. We were on opposite schedules, but our paths crossed enough for me to take notice of this stunning, no-nonsense woman who had an intriguing softness about her that made you want to sit and listen and learn.
I found out a few weeks ago that Melodie died from breast cancer in 2009, after a second aggressive recurrence of the disease.
I should have known that Melodie would leave her mark on Milwaukee for more than just being a local news celebrity. She used her connections and her disease to create a legacy for women who would be diagnosed long after she was gone, both in Wisconsin and around the globe.
Melodie believed in the power of one-to-one, people helping people, and she parlayed that into a non-profit organization that connects breast cancer patients, families and friends with those who have been there.
It’s called ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. People can call the helpline to talk with a breast cancer survivor, and if they want, be matched with someone who has walked a similar journey in an individualized mentoring program.
I wish I would have known about this organization when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m certain it would have helped clear some of the fog and fear that comes with the territory.
There are few people left in the world unaffected by the disease. I hear about a new diagnosis almost every week. It’s always a difficult conversation, because I still don’t know what to say or how to truly help. I wonder if you’ve been there, too.
ABCD changes that. It gives us something tangible to give others: a phone number and a website to be used by patients and the people who love them.
So here you go. Tuck this number away someplace safe and offer it as a gift to the next person who walks this path. And tell them to say hi to Morgan. She is a stunning, no-nonsense woman who has an intriguing softness about her that makes you want to sit and listen and learn. You can tell she’s Melodie’s daughter.
For FREE personalized breast cancer support, call 800-977-4121 or visit www.abcdbreastcancersupport.org.