• Heidi Wise Cancer Survivor: Heidi Wise

“Cancer is the one word you never want to hear in your lifetime. When you do hear it, you want the best doctor.”

In the summer of 2004, when Heidi Wise was 35 years old, her right breast became hard, swollen and sore overnight. She first consulted her OB-GYN, who later sent her to a surgeon. Antibiotics had no effect, and after several mammograms and ultrasounds, a biopsy showed that she had inflammatory breast cancer, an aggressive type of cancer that was not so well known at the time. “My surgeon sent me to Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology to see a new doctor. I’m beyond blessed to have him as my oncologist,” Heidi says.

“Cancer is the one word you never want to hear in your lifetime. When you do hear it, you want the best doctor,” she adds, explaining that her FWMOH oncologist’s “background and knowledge of chemotherapy drugs were excellent. He definitely chose the right drugs. We saw results with each chemotherapy session.” The drugs and their possible side effects were carefully explained in advance, too, Heidi notes, and her questions were always welcomed as she received help and support through the whole process. After six months of chemotherapy, she chose to have a double mastectomy, which was followed by six and a half weeks of radiation. She also had a complete hysterectomy. Good news came the year after her diagnosis: the cancer was in remission. It remains so today, with no evidence of disease.

Heidi says of her oncologist, “He’s been there every step of the way. He saved my life, and I have the utmost respect for him. His devotion to his patients, the compassion he shows and his positive nature exceed all expectations.”

He is still her oncologist, in fact, and she returns to FWMOH every year for her checkups, despite the fact that she and her family moved to Indianapolis six years ago. Her praise extends to others, too. “The nurses at FWMOH were so sweet to me and so compassionate in their caregiving,” she says. “The first time I received chemotherapy, one of them sat with me the whole time, just talking to me and reassuring me.” Heidi enjoys seeing them when she returns for her annual checkups because “they know me and remember me.”

There was more to Heidi’s healing journey than the high quality of care she received at FWMOH, though. “I believe in the power of positive thinking,” she says. “You need to surround yourself with other positive people. What got me through were my friends and family. All the caring almost overwhelms you, but there’s a trickle-down effect, and I want to help everyone I possibly can. Over the years, I’ve talked to others who have cancer, to try to help them. I’ve made it my mission since being diagnosed.” Helping others included even her own mother, who was diagnosed with cancer five years after she was.

It isn’t just the patient who’s affected by cancer, either, as Heidi points out. She says, “When you have cancer, not only do you go through it, but your whole family does. Cancer has changed our family. It’s changed us as people—to be aware of all the little things you can do to be kind and help others. At the end of the day, you just want to be the best person you can be.”