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Doug Wilkey, a Writing for Wellness instructor

at The Wellness Community, Phoenix, AZ

A NEW DIRECTION AFTER CANCER

TWC-Arizona Participant, Doug Wilkey, Jr.

Summer 2008 WellNet News

From an early age, Douglas Wilkey, Jr. loved to read and write. His mother, an English teacher, ingrained in him an appreciation for broadening his knowledge through books and voicing his own perspective through writing. As a student, he not only excelled at academics, but also participated in community service and volunteer work, through which he eventually developed a deep understanding of the importance of selflessness and helping others in need.

As the years went by, Doug found himself first a college student, and then a young adult, charged with the ever-daunting question of what to do with his life. The endless possibilities post-graduation resulted in several years of taking jobs here and there and eventually led Doug into high volume restaurant management and public relations. Although his line of work kept him busy, it lacked a creative outlet. As a result, Doug became jaded, depressed and eventually ill.

He began experiencing severe stomach pain and had a biopsy done on his stomach. Doug was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma in February 2002. He was in shock, yet began treatment immediately, leaving no time to process what having cancer meant. The first six months were a whirlwind of appointments and chemotherapy sessions, and any downtime Doug had was spent researching his illness.

Several months later and nearly a year after beginning treatment, Doug was informed that his chemo regimen needed to be intensified. The news sent him into a deep depression that even his supportive family and friends could not lift. Thankfully, Doug’s proactive nature compelled him to seek help, and soon after, he discovered The Wellness Community (TWC) of Arizona.

Doug began attending participant support groups and was immediately impacted by the other cancer survivors he met. For the first time, he felt empowered, and with the support of his new TWC family, he found the strength to face a new round of chemotherapy treatments.

A year later, his oncologist recommended he look into a bone marrow transplant. With the help of his family and TWC support group, Doug was able to “dig deep” one more time, and in February 2004, he underwent an autologous stem-cell transplant at City of Hope National Medical Center.

After the transplant, Doug faced a long and challenging recovery. His anger, fears and anxieties about the road ahead were quelled by the support he received from his friends at TWC-Arizona. As he healed physically, he also began to heal emotionally and soon discovered a new desire to live life to the fullest.

When Doug was finally able to return home, he declared himself “a newly resurrected person.” With his new perspective on life, Doug switched his career path and began working as a non-profit coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Phoenix and spent many additional hours volunteering at organizations throughout the Phoenix area, including TWC-Arizona. In 2005, Doug was asked to start a TWC networking group for people diagnosed
with Lymphoma.

Working with participants at The Wellness Community has given Doug an opportunity to “give back” to a place that gave him so much hope and strength throughout his cancer experience. He continues to volunteer at TWC
and now assists with newcomer groups, as well as Writing for Wellness workshops. Rediscovering his love for reading and writing, Doug contributed to the book, “Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing,” and was a primary factor in bringing this workshop to The Wellness Community.

Doug recently completed his first semester of graduate school at Arizona State University. He is enrolled in the Master of Science program in Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU West’s College of Human Services. The program focuses on producing empirical research, the study of criminology theory, and implementation of sound policy and reform to our criminal justice system. Doug ultimately hopes to become a policy analyst and contribute to positive policy changes in the future.

For more information about The Wellness Community call
888-793-well of visit www.thewellnesscommunity.org.

 

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