Gladys Wesson-Strickland is a cancer survivor who continues to beat the odds.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
"I know now how precious life is and that it is too short," said Gladys Wesson-Strickland. "I try to do what I feel God lays on my heart for me to do. My faith has been increased because I know that it is by His grace that I'm here."
Wesson-Strickland is the mother of city councilman Herb Wesson, representative of the 10th District. She continues to prove that cancer is something that can be overcome with faith, determination and early detection.
Wesson-Strickland was first diagnosed with cancer at 63 years old. It's because of her decision to act quickly that she beat her first battle with the deadly disease.
Wesson-Strickland had lost her oldest sister to cancer at the age of 48. Turning 48 held a certain fear for her and she approached it with heavy caution and fear. "As I was growing older I didn't want to be 48 because I didn't want to die like my sister had."
In 1994, she went in for an exam and it revealed lumps in her breast. "I did self-breast exams...all the time but neither time did I find a lump. My lumps were found through the mammograms," she said.
Although she self-examined, she could not feel any evidence of cancer. In her case, self-examination proved to be unreliable. The cancer that developed in her left breast was fragmented making it hard to detect.
It was through further examination by mammogram that the cancer was detected. She underwent 48 radiation sessions and one operation. She was someone who had beaten the odds. Wesson-Strickland was now a cancer survivor.
Recently, during an annual examination, a malignant tumor was discovered on her lungs. It was recommended that she do a new kind of radiation treatment. After three sessions, the tumor disappeared.
Wesson-Strickland is thankful to God for her positive prognosis. "I think He [God] really meant me to be a messenger to tell people, 'Go get checked out. Do it because that's the key. Don't wait if you think you've got something," said Wesson-Strickland. She is encouraging people to embrace early detections and get annual exams."
She has become an advocate for awareness and prevention. Wesson-Strickland hopes that through her experience, more people will become serious about their health. She gives most credit to God but also credits medical technology. "They have the technology now to do so much that they didn't have 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. I swear by early detection."
Gladys Wesson-Strickland has constantly overcome the odds and she did it again by being vigilant. She knows that knowledge about what's going on with your body is key. In the Bible, Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Wesson-Strickland hopes that people will start to embrace knowing the truth and living longer.