The Key to Surviving – Positive Reinforcement and Great Care

Meet Wilbur, a thyroid cancer survivor and Moffitt volunteer. Soon after retiring and relocating in Tampa, Wilbur began feeling a lump in his throat. He had already overcome both prostate cancer and thyroid cancer and was referred to Moffitt for further evaluation.
A former Basketball coach, Wilbur sees a lot of similarities between coaching and the treatment he received as a patient at Moffitt Cancer Center. The key, he says, is positive reinforcement. “The doctors really try to give the patient as much positive encouragement while attacking their particular ailment,” he says. Tests revealed cancer cells had returned. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent surgery and radiation therapy. A year later, he had another surgery for a benign brain tumor.
As someone who values exercising, Wilbur was especially impressed in how his treatment team
prioritized his goal to return to outdoor activities after each treatment.
“They got me back on the tennis court and back in the swimming pool and I’m ever so grateful,”
he says. That gratitude brought about his desire to return to Moffitt, but this time as a volunteer.. Today you can find Wilbur in the waiting room of the radiation department.
“It’s my way of saying thank you and giving back,” says Wilbur. “Because without them and a lot
of prayers, I wonder if I’d still be on the face of this earth.”
His volunteer work entails walking patients from the waiting room, down the hall into the room
where they will receive radiation. He flashes back to his days coaching and remembers: positive
“That’s why I share bits and pieces of my personal experience so they can see that the treatment
that they’re receiving does work and they quite possibly will return to their former lifestyle,” says Wilbur.
In that short walk, Wilbur delivers a pep talk similar to his time on the court. “Let it be known that each day things are going to get better,” says Wilbur. “That’s a form of courage that you show within yourself.”
Wilbur’s full story and video can be found at Moffittcourage.org .
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