‘When 1 Person has Cancer, the Whole Family has Cancer’

By Nancy Spooner - April 27, 2022

Family is everything for Erma Wilson Muldrow, who’s 76 years young. She grew up with 13 siblings. Now the matriarch of her own family, she is extremely proud of her seven children, 15 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. It is no surprise that spending time with her loved ones is what she enjoys most.    

Erma Wilson Muldrow and her family
Erma Wilson Muldrow, standing second from left, relied on the support of her children and grandchildren to help her through her bladder cancer journey.

However, Muldrow had no idea how much she would need to lean on her incredible family support system.

Frequent urination with blood and excruciating stomach pain sent her to the emergency room in August 2020 during a global pandemic. After a series of tests, physicians referred her to Dr. Wade Sexton at Moffitt Cancer Center, where she learned she had stage 2 bladder cancer.

Muldrow’s daughter, Tonia Walker, said their family quickly sprang into action to meet the needs of her cancer care. 

“When one person has cancer, the whole family has cancer,” Walker said.

Muldrow’s treatment plan included medications, which were part of a clinical trial aimed at treating chemotherapy ineligible patients prior to surgery to remove the bladder and construct a urinary diversion — an alternative means for the body to store and/or evacuate urine. 

Thankfully, the immunotherapy medications she received helped to eradicate her bladder cancer.  

“Ms. Erma had a great response to her clinical trial medications and recovered well from her surgery,” said Sexton. “To date, she remains cancer free and has an excellent long-term prognosis.”

Muldrow’s advice to other patients experiencing a cancer diagnosis is to remain united with those who will help you through the journey. 

“Stay connected to like-minded individuals who can encourage, motivate and support you through the good and difficult times,” Muldrow said. “Stay connected to your doctors and staff at Moffitt Cancer Center.”

portrait of blockquote author

"Caring for Ms. Erma was akin to caring for a family member or a dear friend."

- Dr. Wade Sexton, Department of Genitourinary Oncology

“Caring for Ms. Erma was akin to caring for a family member or a dear friend,” said Sexton. “Her kindness, compassion, faith and optimism reminded me of the many women I knew growing up in a small Appalachian town in Tennessee, including my own grandmother. Her family ‘circled the wagons’ during and following treatment, shrouding her with prayers of support and providing an immediate presence to address her physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They demonstrated true love and admiration for their cherished matriarch — an example for how all of us should strive to live and love one another.”

The Tampa Bay Rays recognized Muldrow at Tropicana Field on April 23 through the Salute to Survivors  program presented by Moffitt. With her family by her side, she enjoyed watching the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox.

Muldrow is looking forward to celebrating her 77th birthday in May with her beloved family.

Erma Wilson Muldrow Rays game.
Erma Wilson Muldrow at the Tampa Bay Rays game.

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