Medina grad, a cancer survivor, seeks to empower girls

Posted 22 April 2016 at 12:00 am

This photo includes back row, from left: Teacher Nicole Homme, Kathryn Young, Jamie Boyce, Taylor Hurrell, Hannah Sones, Alexandria Sargent. Front Row: Hailee Ogden, Bryanna Sikorski, Mercedes Wilson, Megan Dunn and Morgan Roach.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Mercedes Wilson is 2000 graduate from Medina High School. Recently she found herself back on campus with a new mission.

She spent several days talking with the high school girls about feeling confident in expressing themselves and being their own advocate when it comes to their health.

“When I was 28 years old I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer,” says Mrs. Wilson. “I thought I had a pulled muscle and when I discussed it with my doctor they assured me that I was too young to be concerned about anything. I was fortunate enough when I started to go to a new doctor that they insisted that I get it checked out. It was devastating to think if I had pushed to be tested earlier, I would not have had to undergo what I did.”

Her journey inspired her to start the organization For Our Daughters (click here). Its focus is to empower young women to break down communication barriers and become advocates for their own health and wellness.

“Our youth are under an immense amount of pressure and while they are developing, it is our job to teach them valuables,” she says. “Not only do we address self-esteem issues, but encourage communication with parent/guardians.”

Mrs. Wilson was invited to talk to the students during their gym period by teacher Nicole Homme. The girls ran different scenarios on how to communicate with their mothers showing a productive way to do that and a negative way. Mrs. Homme says she thinks the students respond better to hear these important strategies from someone on the outside.

“Her story is very personal and she has experience of what happens if you don’t learn communication skills earlier on in life,” Homme says. “She tells the students if they feel something is not right, they need to advocate and communicate what it is that they are feeling. It is a very valuable lesson.”

This group participated in Zumba led by Ashley Ramsey, owner of FIT Method in North Tonawanda. She is in front of photo. Other participants include second row, from left: Abigail Neuman, Abbigail Lilly, Kali Worley, Lillian Alberi, Regan Dole, Brooke Bearss, Paige Dunn and Shelby Weese. Back row: Syiera Dow, Alexis Greco, Jessica Lawrence, Nicole Cooper, Jelia Howard, Nodia Osby, Hannah Heil, Divere Brown, Brianna Bearss and Jizzell Banks.

As part of the workshop, a Zumba instructor, Ashley Ramsey from FIT Method in North Tonawanda, came in to teach a class to the students.

“Being active is a key to promoting a healthy life,” says Mrs. Wilson. “Hopefully it will instill a desire to do some sort of activity for the rest of their lives. We can do better, if we know better.”

Mrs. Wilson talks regularly to many local high schools and hopes to reach her goal of reaching 1,500 young women in the Western New York area.

“These girls deserve a world where they feel confident, empowered, and their voices are heard,” she said.