By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Surviving breast cancer depends on finding it early. Doctors say yearly mammograms reduce the risk for advanced cancer. It’s a message that’s now being embraced by a Philadelphia business leader who’s spent the last year fighting the disease herself.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Wendy Hamilton said.

Hamilton was in charge of the first casino to open in Philadelphia in 2010.

As general manager of SugarHouse Casino, Hamilton became a powerhouse in the community.

After eight years at the helm, just as she was ready for a new challenge, she got news that she never expected.

“You never forget it. You never forget that moment,” Hamilton said.

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Last October, Hamilton, who was 47, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’m always kind of ready for what life brings, but news like that is paralyzing,” Hamilton said. “You know, you really end up in a moment of no, no, no, no, no, no, no.”

Hamilton had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

“The treatment itself is brutal. What chemo does to your whole body is horrific,” she said. “It’s horrible.”

It was a 10-month battle. Her hair is just now starting to grow back.

“Thank God we have the knowledge that we have and the drugs that we have and the treatment has come a long way in the last 25 years,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton says she’s lucky because she was late getting her mammogram.

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“When I look back at how many months I put the mammogram off because I was busy, how many times do we say that? I’m doing this, I’m doing that, work, my kid and you’re busy. Are you too busy to go and save your own life?” Hamilton said.

Now with her life back, Hamilton wants to give back. She will be the chairperson of the 2020 Komen Philadelphia More Than Pink Walk.

“I think we all walk a path and you learn something from all of it,” she said. “You got to get the mammogram early and often.”

Hamilton is focusing on raising money for Komen Philadelphia and getting more people involved with the walk that takes place on Mother’s Day.

All those resources will go back into the community with Komen providing a wide variety of breast cancer services.

Stephanie Stahl