Wilhelmina has lived with ME/CFS since 1983. When she became ill, she was close to completing her PhD in physics at Howard University, was teaching physics at Howard and at the University of the District of Columbia, was in a research group at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) and was serving on committees to increase the number of minorities in physics.
In February, 1983, she became abruptly ill. She deteriorated rapidly, could no longer understand her own research, and by 1987 was unable to work. She was diagnosed in 1988 and began working with support groups in Atlanta, GA.
In 1991, her daughter also became ill with ME/CFS. Wilhelmina has worked in numerous roles in advocacy since that time, including with the board of directors of the CFIDS Association of America. She has spoken about this disease in places ranging from CDC and NIH to Congress and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
She lives in Atlanta with her husband. Her grandchildren are the joy of her life.