Gloria Wyatt was never one to skip her yearly mammogram. Working at Northside Hospital for over 30 years, it was her top priority to make and hold appointments regularly. Her May 2012 appointment was no exception, but the new era of 3D mammogram scan compared to her previous digital scans led to a result Gloria had a hard time wrapping her head around.
Advanced 3D mammogram technology offers physicians a deeper look into buried breast tissue, often uncovering results that go undetected in normal scans. For Gloria, this revealed a tumor. The hidden location harbored an environment for the tumor to grow undetected for five years, despite her regular mammograms. “I encourage all women to receive a 3D mammogram,” Gloria says, today. “It saved my life.”
Utilizing the resources an arm’s reach away at Northside Hospital, Gloria scheduled an appointment with Dr. Thomas Seay, of Atlanta Cancer Care. Within just one month, Gloria faced her cancer head on and scheduled a full mastectomy surgery with Northside Hospital’s Dr. Jennifer Amerson. Dr. Seay confirmed Gloria had developed stage 3B breast cancer.
By this time, the tumor was already quite advanced. It had spread to her lymph nodes requiring additional tissue removal. One month after Gloria’s mastectomy, she began chemotherapy and radiation treatment – 33 rounds of it. Regaining her strength and searching for a sense of normalcy, Gloria was ready for breast reconstruction in June 2013.
Today, Gloria remains in remission and regularly visits Northside’s Dr. Amelia Zelank for her checkups every six months.
Reflecting on her whirlwind of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, Gloria now embraces each day as it comes. She regularly checks off items on her bucket list, hold her family close to her heart and looks for ways to share her story with others.
Most recently in her healing process, Gloria participated in the Feel Beautiful Today sponsored ‘Warrior Within’ photo shoot. During the session, Gloria laughed and danced, celebrating her cancer-free body. The photo session allowed her to embrace her beauty alongside her battle with cancer – showing off her “unicorn grey” hair, which she lost during her chemo treatments.
“Once you go through a period when you lose your hair, you know you have cancer and everyone else knows you have cancer. All you want to do is feel like your old self,” Gloria said. She got that feeling back during the photo shoot, feeling “the most beautiful I’ve ever felt.”
Looking back at her journey through breast cancer, despite the pain, Gloria “wouldn’t change a thing,” about her experience and the growth and healing she’s found.
*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.