Lifestyle

Ex-pro athlete battling rare form of cancer that ended his career encourages others with his story

After being diagnosed in 2022 with pheochromocytoma, a rare tumor of the adrenal gland when he threw up blood while traveling to work in central London, Will Wise, a former professional basketball player, has taken a stand in support of cancer victims.

Though he had no symptoms before becoming unwell, further tests revealed a rare condition known as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2). The thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, lips, mouth, eyes, and digestive tract can all develop tumors as a result of this. Wise’s cancer had migrated to the thyroid gland.

The 30-year-old had previously competed professionally in basketball in Europe and Australia, most recently with the Eastern Mavericks in Australia.

He told the Standard, “When the doctor gave us the news, the world just stopped. I paused, turned to Alex and made a joke. It felt surreal. I tried to just take it in.” 

“The tumor caused my body to effectively shut down as it was producing too much adrenaline. My adrenal levels were 50 times what they should be. The doctors had no idea how I was able to survive such a crisis.”

Wise, a Philadelphia native who now lives in Kensington with his Australian fiancée, singer-songwriter Alex Hosking, has had 14 months of treatment, which includes three operations to remove his left adrenal gland, thyroid, parathyroid, and 65 lymph nodes, as well as a liver biopsy.

After the right adrenal gland is removed and the liver is ablated, he will undergo monitoring to see whether the removal of the afflicted areas is effective or whether he needs chemotherapy in the future.

Wise created a vlog documenting his fight with cancer the night he received his diagnosis, which he then posted online under the hashtag #CancerBae. He has decided to use his condition to change how people view the illness and to bring hope to those who suffer in silence.

With over 6,000 TikTok and an additional 5,000 Instagram followers, he uses his social media accounts to share updates about his treatment, rate his hospital meals, and share his Premier League-watching vacations.

He said, “I’ve always been a positive person so when this happened, it was an opportunity for me to practice what I preach. For people like me with Stage Four it is not about surviving with cancer; it is about living with cancer. I want people to feel like they are not alone, and I’ve been feeling the support through trying to create that platform.”

“My cancer might be rare, but the disease isn’t as rare as it once was. My mission is to change what the word cancer looks like to people. I am 6ft 9 with tattoos and I look athletic. When you tell someone you have cancer they give you glossy ‘cancer eyes’. Those who have it know exactly what I’m talking about.”

He continued, “I want people to know you can live a good life with cancer. It doesn’t have to define you. I’d like to create a new, vibrant, colorful movement that is fresh and exciting, that takes the eerie stigma away.”

Following his diagnosis, Wise has dedicated his time to teaching young people in West London basketball. In addition, he trains youths at the Richmond Knights and leads classroom sessions throughout the borough of Richmond upon Thames.

He also supports Cancer Research UK’s effort to lessen people’s fear of cancer so they can live longer, better lives.

Dollita Okine

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