By MIKE REUTHER
MONTGOMERY - It perhaps goes without saying that having cancer will change a person's perspective.
Brooke Wise and her mother Sherri Wise relax in their Montgomery area home on a recent winter day. Brooke is hoping to raise money to help fight leukemia. As a leukemia survivor, she knows first-hand what it’s like to battle the disease.
Brooke Wise was just 22, attending college in New Jersey, when she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011.
But her bout with cancer not only has changed her but allowed her to see the good that can come out of such an experience.
"I've learned a lot about life through the whole thing," she said.
Now, she raises money to help fight leukemia.
Nominated as the Women of the Year for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, she's set a goal of raising $10,000 over the next two months.
Soliciting funds may seem like a daunting task for most people, but Wise already has been through what can only be described as a tasking experience.
The date is indelibly imbedded in her mind when she was diagnosed with cancer: Dec. 17, 2011.
Up until then, she had been feeling extraordinarily tired.
"I was probably sleeping 19 hours a day," she recalled.
She shed a lot of weight and lost vision in one of her eyes.
That might have sounded the alarm that something was wrong.
"I was the first person to be diagnosed with leukemia through the eye," she said.
It wasn't the kind of distinction she wanted.
Wise wasn't given much of a chance to survive. After all, cancer had been found in 85 percent of her bone marrow.
The next six months were spent in a Philadelphia hospital.
Her family back in Montgomery put their lives on hold, moving in with a sister in New Jersey to be close to Wise.
By June 2012, she was in remission and has remained so since.
Needless to say, the leukemia not only knocked her for a loop but put her life on hold.
At the time she was studying to be a licensed practical nurse.
But she's not feeling sorry for herself.
"I hope to help others," she said.
She's already done one fund-raiser to help fight the disease that took so much of her life and those of others.
And, she plans to go back to school to become an oncology nurse.
"I have been blessed by the people I've met," she said.
They've included many whom have been through similar cancer experiences.
Her mother, Sherri Wise, said many people have been encouraged by her daughter.
"She's been strong through this," she said.
Wise still has 10 chemotherapy treatments left but she remains focused on the future.
Her philosophy is both realistic and uplifting.
"You can make your funeral arrangements or you can fight like crazy," she said.
But she can't forget the past either.
And when she thinks of how the community of Montgomery came out in support of her, she can't help but be amazed and thankful.
Friends, strangers, churches all stepped forward.
Other than a grandfather who had cancer, she can think of no other persons in her family who had the disease.
But she doesn't question why she had to battle leukemia.
She feels that staying positive certainly helped keep the disease from getting the best of her.
"It always helps when you have God on your side," she said.
To learn more about Wise's fundraising efforts check the website at www.mwoy.org/pages/cpa/hbg14/bwise7.