It’s been nearly eight years since Terry Myers Gladden, an associate at Waltonwood Cotswold, got the call nobody ever wants to receive. Her doctor was on the line to inform her that her biopsy results came out positive. She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer on December 16, 2010, at the age of 48. Gladden discovered the lump herself during a self-examination, which she performed regularly, and immediately panicked. Only a month after the diagnosis, Gladden underwent surgery to remove the cancer. Ultimately, she went through two surgeries, six rounds of chemo and 33 radiation treatments. In less than a year, she was cancer-free. With the support of her family and friends, Gladden overcame some of the hardest times of her life. Today, she urges women not to ignore the need for regular self-examination.
“I am so glad I was with my sister and my daughter when I received the call from my doctor because I literally fell down on my knees and started crying,” said Gladden. “It’s been almost eight years, but when I think of that moment it still feels like it was yesterday. A lot of people think they can imagine how bad and scary it is to be diagnosed with cancer, but nobody can quite imagine the reality of it. It was hard to even look at myself in the mirror after all the chemo and radiation. I lost all my hair, water tasted disgusting, food tasted like cardboard. It’s unimaginable, and I am beyond thankful I got through it with the support from my loved ones. I strongly encourage all women to perform self-examinations because early detection likely saved my life.”
Gladden has three grown children and nine grandchildren. There is no history of cancer in the family but Gladden still understood the importance of regular self-examinations. Research shows that about one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. The risk of being diagnosed nearly doubles if there is a family history of breast cancer. Gladden decided to share her story in hopes that it will remind all women to perform self-examination and not rely solely on a yearly doctor’s visit.
“I want women to realize that we can’t simply go to a doctor once a year and hope that we won’t be one of the women who receive the bad news,” said Gladden. “I stress the importance of self-examination and mammograms to everyone I meet. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is scary, no matter if you are a man or a woman. But if it happens and you get the news, please remember to never give up the fight.”
“Terry is a strong person, and we are thrilled to share her story as a breast cancer survivor,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “We are lucky to have Terry on our team, and we hope that her story encourages women to take their health seriously.”