Phillips To Serve as Relay for Life of Green County's Honorary Survivor
August 5, 2021
This year, Relay For Life of Green County is teaming up with organizers of Brodhead's Covered Bridge Days on Saturday, August 14, in Brodhead.
Visit their booth from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in downtown Brodhead, to purchase luminaria bags, learn about American Cancer Society Resources, make donations, support their bake sale and to be included in a drawing for some great items.
Or visit the American Cancer Society-Wisconsin Facebook page and provide hope to those fighting cancer to 'Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.'
Alison Phillips of Monroe will serve as Relay For Life of Green County's Honorary Survivor. She grew up in Illinois and lived and worked in downtown Chicago. Alison met her husband, Josh, who grew up in Juda, at a Cubs game and after successfully navigating a long-distance relationship, married and moved to Monroe in 2008.
With a nickname of 'Sunshine,' Alison works at The Garden Spot, Inc. south of Monroe as a landscape consultant and during the school year serves as a substitute teacher for the School District of Monroe.
Her journey with cancer started in 2019.
Alison went in for her first mammogram screening in February. The next day, when Dr. Joe Ehle called, "my heart dropped," and she explained that her obstetrician-gynecologist wanted her to come back to the office as soon as possible for a second screening.
Alison didn't think at age 39 that she would hear the word cancer, even though her mom was diagnosed with cancer when she was 49.
"In addition to the infertility issues that we were dealing with, I would deal with cancer now too," said Alison.
She was advised to have a double mastectomy and that's when, "I realized that I had to be my own best advocate and ask more questions."
After a surgical triple biopsy on February 18, it confirmed that two areas were benign but the third was indeed cancer - Stage IA, hormone positive, HER2-negative, ductal carcinoma, breast cancer.
Alison met with Dr. Robert Hegeman at the UW Oncology Clinic in Madison.
"He was very caring and all-encompassing," said Alison. "It wasn't just about the cancer."
She also met with Dr. David Melnick, a UW Health surgeon, who discovered that a locator was not placed during the previous surgical biopsy so, "it was like starting over."
In March, Alison had a full panel of genetic testing at the UW Carbone Center and it confirmed that she didn't have the BRCA gene.
On June 4, Alison had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue that surrounded it.
"Within a week, I was back to work because being around the plants, the staff who are like family and our customers bring me joy and all were a welcome distraction," said Alison proudly.
She had just over one month before she started her six weeks of daily radiation treatments. Alison traveled to the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center in Freeport for her treatments over her lunch break, going back to work for the afternoons and then home to rest in the evenings.
"As scary as cancer was, I always knew that I would get through the cancer by taking it day by day and staying positive," said Alison. "The one thing that we struggled with was knowing that we would never have our own biological children."
Excitedly, Alison and Josh have started the next chapter and are preparing to welcome a foster child, or children, into their home and hearts.
"I look back at our journey as a couple and now know this is God's plan for us," said Alison. "We just need to have faith and recognize the God 'winks' or signals, and believe that we are on the right path."
During her cancer journey, Alison added that she relied on friends and family, doctors and staff at the clinics and treatment center, and several motivational quotes.
She shared, "Ultimately, I hope that I can inspire others to make sure they go in for regular screenings, advocate for their own health, and stay positive through it all."
There are so many people who have supported Alison through this journey including:
Husband Josh for his love, support, and picking up a cheeseburger after each of her surgeries; Melissa Briggs, staff and customers at The Garden Spot; support from friends, family, and neighbors; Carrie Williams, Megan Schilt, and volunteers at Justice for a Cure; staff and students with the School District of Monroe; the staff and doctors at Monroe Clinic, UW Health Madison, and the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center.
"There is always a blessing in the storm," said Alison. "My blessings were many. I found my inner strength, re-learned what is important, never take a day for granted, and how truly and completely loved and supported I am by so many in my life."
On August 14, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the Relay For Life of Green County will have a walk- and drive-by luminaria event at the Jaycee Park in Brodhead, showcasing the luminaria bags that people have purchased in memory or honor of loved ones.
Luminaria bags also can be purchased online and donations can be made to teams, team members, or to the event using the website or forms posted on the website.
For more information about Relay For Life of Green County, please contact Jo Ann Steuri at (608) 728-2980 or visit http://www.RelayForLife.org/GreenCountyWI or on Facebook at Relay For Life of Green County.