Thyroid Cancer Survivor, Moffitt Volunteer
Wilbur sees a lot of similarities between coaching and the treatment he received as a patient at Moffitt Cancer Center, which makes perfect sense because he is a former basketball coach.
The key, he says, is positive reinforcement.
“Moffitt really tries to give the patient as much positive encouragement while attacking their particular ailment,” he says.
When Wilbur was referred to Moffitt, he had already overcome both prostate cancer and thyroid cancer. Soon after retiring and relocating in Tampa, he began feeling a lump in his throat.
Tests revealed cancer cells had returned. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent surgery and radiation therapy. A year later, he had another surgery for a benign brain tumor.
As someone who values exercising, Wilbur was especially impressed in how his treatment team prioritized his goal to return to outdoor activities after each treatment.
“They got me back on the tennis court and back in the swimming pool and I’m ever so grateful,” he says.
That gratitude brought about his desire to return to Moffitt, but this time as a volunteer. Today you can find Wilbur in the waiting room of the radiation department.
“It's my way of saying thank you and giving back,” says Wilbur. “Because without them and a lot of prayers, I wonder if I'd still be on the face of this earth.”
His volunteer work entails walking patients from the waiting room, down the hall into the room where they will receive radiation.
He flashes back to his days coaching and remembers: positive reinforcement.
“That's why I share bits and pieces of my personal experience so they can see that the treatment that they're receiving does work and they quite possibly will return to their former lifestyle,” says Wilbur.
In that short walk, Wilbur delivers a pep talk similar to his time on the court.
“Let it be known that each day things are going to get better,” says Wilbur. “That’s a form of courage that you show within yourself.”