My name is Gloria “Glo” Wyatt and I’m 62 years old. I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer on May 25, 2012. This means the tumor was larger than 5 centimeters and had spread to nearby lymph nodes. I was stunned.
Breast cancer did not run in my family.
I did all the right things: annual mammograms and self-breast examines. It was through the technology of the 3D mammogram that my cancer was found. It had been hiding behind dense tissue for possibly four to seven years. I wish I could put into words how it feels to hear the words ‘you have cancer,’ but unless you have heard them it is not possible. I sat stunned. I didn't even cry - that would come later.
You wonder how you will tell your family. How you will get through this?
After a visit with my surgeon and oncologist, I knew I had a rough road ahead. I would undergo a mastectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments along with all the additional little "bumps in the road" you face during treatment. Reconstruction came later.
How did I move forward and find strength?Well, for me it came down to three things: First, my faith. I am a woman of faith and the prayers and support of my church gave me strength to fight. Second, my family, my Northside family (Gloria , my friends, who gave me the love and courage to never give up. Third, laughter. Fun and laughter have always been a huge part of my life and cancer was already taking too much away from me, so chose that it would not take away my sense of humor. I looked for every opportunity to find the funny things that you encounter on this journey and as crazy as it may sound there were many!
So that is how I have made it so far and how I continue to remain strong in the fight, not only for myself, but also for others who have already or may someday been be faced with this disease. I’ve been in remission since November 2012. My life now consists of a visit to my oncologist every three months and this will continue for two more years. At each visit, you are a little apprehensive until you receive the results that you are still cancer free. But I continue to live thankfully and I am enjoying every minute of this wonderful life.
What does Celebration of Lights mean to you?I was at the very first Celebration of Lights. It was held on the top level of the 960 Northside Doctors Center in Sandy Springs. Little did I know that years later this event would become such a significant part of my life. I have the opportunity to ride by the tree atop Northside Hospital-Forsyth throughout the season and when I see that beautiful tree with all of the thousands of lights, I am reminded of what it represents to each person who has been touched by this disease. For some families, it is in memory of a loved one who have lost the fight, and others, like me, it is in honor of survival. But most of all, for all of us, it represents hope. The proceeds raised during Celebration of Lights and events such as this will be used to continue the fight against this horrible disease. And this is a fight that must continue.
Each of the 48,000 lights on Northside Hospital's Christmas trees can be purchased and in honor or memory of loved ones, physicians, caregivers or friends. With the purchase of a light, festive cards, designed by a local student, are sent to notify recipients of the donation in their honor. Proceeds benefit the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. For more information about Celebration of Lights, to purchase Northside Hospital Christmas tree lights through Dec. 31 or to make a secure tax-deductible donation, call (770) 667-4483 to have a donation form sent to you.
*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.