Walker Sheriff Wilson back on the job, "almost 100%" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Walker Sheriff Wilson back on the job, "almost 100%"

Sheriff Steve Wilson Sheriff Steve Wilson

By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

LAFAYETTE, GA (WRCB)- Placed high on the walls of the Walker County Sheriff's office, among the certificates, plaques and family photos is a framed photo of a celebration.  It's the iconic photo of the Atlanta Braves celebrating a World Championship in 1995.

Sheriff Steve Wilson says, "That means a lot to me.  I'm looking forward to a trip down there in October, for (manager) Bobby Cox's farewell tribute.  My family got me tickets for Father's Day, and we're excited about that trip."

Family trips hold extra meaning for Sheriff Wilson these days.  Just a few months ago, he wasn't sure if he should be making any long-range plans.  In the summer of 2009, he felt some discomfort in his right rib cage.  He figured it "would just go away," and it did.  A few weeks later, that sharp pain re-emerged in his left rib cage.  "That's when I started to worry," he says.  The unusual pains, combined with fatigue he had once chalked up to "the aging process" led him to the doctor last October.

His worst fears were confirmed.  "Nobody wants to hear the word cancer, but that's what the tests revealed," he says.  A series of tests and biopsies revealed the presence of multiple myeloma, a rare cancer of the bone marrow that involves plasma cells. 

During April and May of this year, Sheriff Wilson endured several aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.  "I was pretty sick the first two weeks," he says, "but you know, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  "Don't get me wrong, it was bad.  Nausea, lack of appetite, you name it.  But I was lifted by the power of prayer from some wonderful people, my family, my staff, friends and strangers.  And I'm just about back to one-hundred percent."

The most noticeable side effect for a man whose trademark has been a thick, impeccably groomed head of hair is his new bald look.  "I'm getting used to it," he says with a grin, "and besides, just like the old days, people can still say Sheriff Wilson doesn't have a hair out of place."  He says, "My mustache is gone too, after thirty years, but no one is commenting on that, they can't get over my hair!"  And he says he's noticed some encouraging growth in three weeks time.

He says his prognosis is good, and he's even planning a 2012 re-election bid, "just like I was doing when all this started," he says.  But he admits he's not totally out of the woods yet.  "I'll be going in for some extensive testing in July.  Everything has checked out well so far, but I'll be getting tested and undergoing some type of therapy for the rest of my life."

But for now, he's focused on regaining his energy, and at least "a few" of the twenty pounds he lost during treatments.

And he enjoys hearing compliments about "my amazing staff" that kept the department running during his eight-week absence, and looking through the four photo albums filled with cards and letters from "everyone I know and a lot of folks that I don't. But I thank them all.  I'm really blessed."  His secretary Kim Jones, herself a cancer survivor, "helped keep things running smoothly and kept my spirits up."

He's grateful for the strong outpouring of support during a February blood drive in his honor, which was one of the best-attended blood drives Blood Assurance has ever had.  On top of everything else, he says he wants to get an important message across to men over the age of 50. "Get regular check-ups, get your blood work done, and get a colonoscopy," he said.  "These are all life-savers, and men are often too stubborn to take care of their own health.  But I'm sure glad I did."

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