Melodie Wilson, Founder

The Power of One-to-One

In 1999, building on her belief in “the Power of One-to-One,” Melodie Wilson gathered together a group of women affected by breast cancer and created ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. From the outset, ABCD committed to compassionately pair breast cancer patients with trained mentor volunteers with similar demographic and diagnosis backgrounds. Shortly after its inception, ABCD’s support services were available for caregivers, too.  From her initial battle with breast cancer in 1992 and again 14 years later with an aggressive recurrence, Melodie understood the terrifying reality of a breast cancer diagnosis and the irreplaceable need for One-to-One help, hope and support.

The ABCD community was deeply saddened by Melodie’s passing in November 2009, as were all who knew her.  But gratitude for her vision of what could be and the legacy she has left for those diagnosed with breast cancer are the foundation of our work going forward.

In addition to founding and leading the organization as its president for its first nine years, Melodie always made time to speak personally with those touched by this disease.  Her adamant drive to assure that every breast cancer patient would be offered a free one-to-one mentoring service was coupled with her deeply caring approach to every patient and survivor she met.

Until Breast Cancer Has a Cure

A former television news anchor and always a consummate journalist, in 2009 she received the Silver Circle Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of her lifetime achievement and contributions to television journalism.  In true Melodie fashion, she used the awards presentation to again remind audiences about the painful reality of breast cancer, encouraging all to find their own way to compassionately support those affected by the disease.

Even while waging her own battle, Melodie tirelessly followed breast cancer research efforts aimed at better treatments, prevention and early diagnosis. Despite significant progress on these fronts, Melodie recognized that, absent a cure for breast cancer, there would always be a vital role for breast cancer support. She argued that ABCD should be part of the standard care for breast cancer patients, assuring that no one ever face that experience alone. “We look forward to a day when ABCD is no longer needed,” Melodie said, “but we know that’s a long way off.”

EXTENSIVE Community Involvement

In addition to founding ABCD, Melodie was involved in a number of organizations related to breast cancer and community service. She played a leadership role in establishing the Milwaukee affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, serving as the board’s founding President. She also served as Chair of the 2001 Komen Milwaukee Race for the Cure® and Honorary Chair of that race in 1999 and 2000. The founding Chair of the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center Advisory Board, Melodie received a Champion of Women’s Health Award from the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation in 2008 and an honorary Doctorate from Lakeland College in 2001.

Melodie’s fellow Board members and the leadership team she and others recruited to the ABCD table are humbled to continue her work and build on the foundation she established.  Melodie’s husband, Wayne Oldenburg, their four children and her mother, also continue to be a vital part of her ongoing legacy at ABCD.