'Palmer Strong': Community rallies around coach's daughter in fight against cancer

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The UW Platteville athletic department considers themselves a family, and one of their leaders certainly needed the support from the rest of the pioneers.

Everywhere UW Platteville head women's basketball coach Megan Wilson has gone, she's been a champion.

At Barneveld High School, she won two state championships - while at UW Stevens Point, it was a national championship.

But this time around, Wilson is only looking for one win, one that is out of her control: doctors discovered Stage 3 cancer in her 6-year-old daughter, Palmer.

“I think I’m strong. I don't get too emotional around her because she has all these hopes. She believes that she's got this and she does,” Wilson said. “But as a parent, we worry I think that's our job. I don't think it ever stops. Unfortunately for me I just think it’s probably more for me than it was before.”

Now, Palmer is 7 years old, and is 31 weeks into chemotherapy. She’s spent more time with doctors and nurses than playing with her friends.

As treatment began for Palmer, Wilson’s other family was hit hard by the news as well, including taking leave from the team.

“She called us into the locker room one day and we all had sat in our normal spots around our lockers and we knew something was wrong because something was going on, everyone was just tearing up,” said Maiah Domank, a player on UW Platteville’s basketball team. “No one left without crying. We knew in that moment the whole season would be different.”

Another player, Rachel Emendorfer, said their first reaction was how they could help their coach and her child, Palmer.

“Obviously this is a very serious situation and we want coach Wilson to know we understood her priorities,” Emendorfer said. “Our message from the team was we want you to take care of at home because that’s number one hands down. And let her know we can take care of business on the court. And I think that was a continuous message through the season, letting her know she’s welcome.”

But the support didn’t stop there: just about everywhere the team went, so did support for Megan and Palmer. From raising awareness to raising funds – everyone was ‘Palmer Strong.’

“I mean I thought I was strong, both physically and mentally before we got here,” Wilson said. “But again I think it's different when it's a kid. I think it’s different when it's your daughter. It's hard, every day is hard. In front of her because she's strong - I’m strong."