Mercedes Wilson was born in the Village of Medina New York, and raised in Lockport NY. In 2000, she graduated high school and went on to earn her Bachelors degree in Human Services from Empire State College. While working in management for a major retail company, Mercedes was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the young age of 28. Since she was a child, Mercedes has always had a vision of helping other young women and now her vision was brought to life. Her life changing experience with breast cancer is what birthed For Our Daughters Incorporated. Mercedes and her team are all on a mission to “Empower young women to break down communication barriers and become advocates for their own health and wellness”. While traveling to middle and high schools across Western New York, they tackle the issue that stop young women from becoming self advocates for their health. Mercedes is also a strong advocate for young women that have or are experiencing breast cancer. She is a new passionate state leader for YSC. Mercedes now lives in Buffalo NY with her husband and 4 amazing children. They have a 13 year old son, a 10 year old daughter, and 1 1/2 year old twins that keep everyone busy!
A few weekends ago, Spencer Kohn and I summoned a group of superheroes to a studio in Bushwick for a top secret project. In attendance: photographer Spencer Kohn, the Young Survival Coalition’s (“YSC”) breast cancer survivors and my super son – Dylan. Yes, a photo shoot for the YSC’s upcoming In Living Pink Gala, for which I am this year’s Creative PR and Marketing Chair, was involved. In order to see the pictures, however, you’re going to have to join me (on my birthday) May 20th at the Gala. You can purchase your tax-deductible ticket here.
This week’s Muse of the Week is Mercedes Wilson. Mercedes, a breast cancer survivor since 2011, was one of the lovely models working it at the photo shoot. She is a mother of 4 children (most recently, TWINS) and has created an organization to help empower young women called For Our Daughters Incorporated. Her spirit animal superhero is definitely Wonder Woman. When asked about her organization, she told me, “Working together empowers one another. It’s not about ‘me’ or ‘you,’ but rather all of us coming together and empowering one another is what will make the difference.”
When I asked Mercedes how she learned of the YSC after her diagnosis, she told me told “through Google.” The idea that these young women’s doctors didn’t know the YSC existed to help them was heartbreaking to me. “What did people do before the Internet?,” I asked. “Suffer in silence” was Mercede’s response. “That is why the continued existence of organizations like the YSC and For Our Daughters are so crucial.
You can learn more about Mercedes below in my BTS Q&A interview. Thank you Spencer for capturing Mercedes beauty and thank you Mercedes for sharing your story of survival. You are an inspiring woman. xo Stacy Igel:
1. What does 'Fuck Cancer' mean to you?
It means there is something in my past that I overcame! I can’t say I have written it off, because the overcoming the physical battle is only a portion of it. The rest I take day by day!
2. How did you learn about the Young Survival Coalition ( YSC)? How has the YSC helped you in your journey through the discovery of this disease and coping?
I was looking for a organization that helped young women seeing how our struggles are different at such a young age. I googled organizations for young cancer survivors and YSC came up! YSC helps me so much because #1 I realize that I am not alone, and just like anything else, knowing that you are not alone is sometimes half of the battle! It has resources for every stage of cancer. I love that as well. When your body is cancer free, there are still so many other things to deal with because of the battle that you just endured and that’s where I am right now!
3. Will you be attending the In Living Pink (ILP) gala? Have you been before? If yes how does it make you feel to be in a room with so many survivors?
I will be attending the ILP gala! I have never been before and I am positive that it will be very emotional for me to be in the room with so many women that I can relate to about something that was such a painful time in my life.
4. Favorite quote?
Oh this is easy!!! “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
5. Have you changed your lifestyle (eating habits, working out, etc) since you were diagnosed?
Yes! Eating healthier, working out, eating
6. Can you share with us the last moment you shared with someone?
To be honest, yesterday at Spencer’s studio. I had to fight back tears while being there! Just seeing other young survivors smiling and seeing them still there made my heart so happy! I was telling my cousin about it right after we left. It was surprisingly empowering
All photos by Spencer Kohn
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