Insights > Triumph over adversity: The journey of resilience for Entergy Arkansas Lineworker Matt Wilson

Triumph over adversity: The journey of resilience for Entergy Arkansas Lineworker Matt Wilson


In today's fast-paced world, we often face challenges that seem overwhelming. But sometimes, amidst the storm, there are stories of incredible resilience and triumph.

March 31, 2023, is a date that will forever be marked in Arkansas severe weather history, as tornadoes ripped through areas of Little Rock and Wynne leaving overwhelming damage to these cities. For one Entergy Arkansas lineworker, it’s a day remembered for another reason.

As thousands of lineworkers immediately went into action to restore power to customers in these areas, Entergy Arkansas Lineworker Matt Wilson was sitting in a doctor’s office awaiting results that would change his life.

Wilson is a senior lineman who has worked for the company in Harrison for nine years. He spends most of his days building new power lines or maintaining the hundreds of miles of lines the company currently manages.

One day, he was having trouble swallowing some food and didn’t think much of it. After a few days of this experience, he thought it might be best to go see his local physician. However, life took an unexpected turn when Wilson received a diagnosis that no one should ever have to face – cancer.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news that I had esophagus cancer. I would have never thought it would have happened to me.”

The news reverberated throughout the company’s northwest region network like a thunderbolt, leaving his coworkers stunned and heartbroken. Yet, amidst the initial shock and uncertainty, Wilson demonstrated a strength of character that was nothing short of inspiring. Determined to fight, Wilson underwent rigorous treatments, facing each day with unwavering courage and determination.

Over the next several months, Wilson underwent two surgeries to remove part of his stomach and esophagus along with six weeks of radiation five days a week and one day of chemotherapy a week. The overwhelming number of treatments caused Wilson to have to take short-term disability from the company for six months.

Family and friends would drive him two hours each way to his treatments in Fayetteville. Wilson’s coworkers would even chip in to help on their day off to drive him and sit with him as he underwent chemotherapy.

Knowing the journey would be hard, Wilson’s coworkers stepped up in other ways by hosting several fundraisers to help cover expenses.

“The way they saw Matt fight, his coworkers wanted to fight for him too,” said Glen Nelle, line supervisor for Entergy Arkansas. “We setup a golf tournament, fishing tournament, raffled off cornhole boards and even made hats to show our support. This whole process has been about being concerned for a friend and employee, to having the whole northwest region support him and his family.”

With the support of his family and coworkers, and after months of treatment and countless doctor's appointments, Wilson finally received the wonderful news – he was cancer-free! The relief and joy he felt was indescribable.

“It was overwhelming to have all my coworkers support me the way they did. I can’t thank them enough for all the prayers, calls and just being there for me,” said Wilson.

The next step in the journey was to finally come back to work after being off for more than nine months. Returning to work after such a challenging journey was daunting for Wilson. Would he be able to keep up with the demands of his job because he lost 60 pounds of muscle mass? Would his coworkers treat him differently now that he was a cancer survivor? These were just a few of the questions racing through his mind as he prepared to return to the office.

However, any fears Wilson quickly dissipated as he was welcomed back with open arms by his coworkers. When he returned on Jan. 22, they greeted him with smiles, hugs and words of encouragement, making him feel like he had never left. The transition back to work was smoother than he could have ever imagined, thanks to the unwavering support of his colleagues.

In fact, the first day back he was in Storm Ready mode as Arkansas was experiencing bad winter weather. Thankfully, the system held up strong during the weather and didn’t experience any outages in his area.

“We are tickled to have him back,” said Nelle. “He is transitioning back well into his role and it’s like he never left.”

While there are still some steps in the journey to go for his recovery, Wilson is back to doing what he loves – helping to keep the community's lights on. He's grateful for his health and for the support of his coworkers who stood by him through thick and thin.

“It’s great to be back! As I ease back to work, it’s been amazing to see the support and get back to normal as I build my strength back.”

As Wilson continues to flourish in his career, he does so with a renewed sense of purpose and gratitude. He knows that he is stronger now than he ever was before, thanks to the challenges he has overcome. And as he looks towards the future, he does so with optimism and determination, knowing that he can conquer anything that comes his way.

Wilson’s story is a shining example of bravery and perseverance. His journey of triumph serves as inspiration to all, reminding us to never give up hope, even in the face of adversity.

Matt Ramsey
Senior Communications Specialist