November 17, 2016
Salt Lake City, UT
Vol 1, #3
On April 20, 2016, my mother, Aimee Leaming Wilson, woke up and found a lump in her breast. That morning she drove to the doctors and underwent a mammogram, after just having had one 6 months prior. They didn’t see anything on the mammogram, but said since she felt something, they would do an ultrasound. They saw a tiny spot on the ultrasound and went ahead and did a biopsy of the breast as well as lymph nodes under her arm. By the end of that week, she was diagnosed was Stage 3 Breast Cancer.
In the following months, my family and I learned many things we never wanted to know about cancer. The doctors kept saying that her cancer was the most “aggressive” they’d seen—I didn’t understand that until the end, and it created so much frustration within me. In addition, I learned that mammograms only detect 90% of breast cancers. I started to see ‘Tuesdays’ as infusion days, where after May 3rd she would have an infusion two Tuesdays in a row, then have a week off for her body to adjust to the medicine. Our family, who was usually seen in photos on a beach in Mexico, hockey trips, or having fun together—started to have weekly photos to document her progress in chemotherapy.
Throughout all of this, my mother always stayed positive. She looked forward to her infusions, her appointments, and talking with the doctors so that she could fight against her cancer. She was a dedicated individual who didn’t let anything stand in her path. She tried to have our family maintain our lifestyles and attempted to keep her cancer within our circle. I remember at the end of her chemotherapy cycle one of the doctors asked “How long have you been out of work?” She replied “I haven’t.” She would get up each morning, put on her make-up, her hair, and her smile and go to work.
Just one month prior to her diagnosis, she had accepted the position as the Senior Vice President of People & Great Work at O.C. Tanner. O.C. Tanner created an amazing atmosphere for my mother. The support from her co-workers, spearheaded by Dave Petersen, made my mother love to go to work. She joked with us that she could retire by age 51, but after working at O.C. Tanner, she didn’t want to retire anymore—she wanted to work there the rest of her life. Other support systems included her family members (Team Aimee), her “sisters” (Suzy, Krista, Danna, Tara, Erin), and many others who could fill pages alone. These support systems helped her on bad days. Chemotherapy has brutal side effects and having supportive people around always made it so that she could continue the fight.
It’s these support systems that my Grandparents, Mark, and I count on to hold us up on difficult days. It’s an unbelievable feeling to see your entire world stop with the loss of one monumental person and to see that everyone else has theirs continue to spin. My hockey team, comprised of 26 lifetime friends, have gone above and beyond to help me get through this. This includes all of them showing up at the services, writing me a card, sending flowers, and continuing to send me texts and check on my well-being. I couldn’t have done this without individuals like Josh Dangel, Noah Beery, Eric Gausseres, Tyler Reble, and Brett Meyer. ALL of my teammates, our coaching staff, fans, and friends have reached out to me in this tough time. I can’t say how much I appreciate it. I have always seen hockey as an escape and during this time, I can’t touch the ice enough. On December 3, 2016, we will be hosting a Breast Cancer Awareness Game versus Utah State University in her memory and I hope everyone can join us as we honor her memory.
In the final days with my mother, I was able to tell her how much I love her, how much she means to me, and that I couldn’t have been a luckier child. I’ll never be able to condense my feelings into a page, a talk, or any words, but I can say that the lessons she taught me will carry me throughout the rest of my life. My mother gave it her best fight, but passed on October 12, 2016. To conclude this Tape to Tape, her last words were that she wishes everyone would be kinder to one another and to “love, love, love.”