GREENSBORO — Victoria Glosson plotted the moment leading to her dad standing there still in his Guilford County sheriff’s deputy uniform — all the while capturing it on her cell phone.
There was no just telling him.
Not after the cancer diagnosis at 21, with him by her side. The blood clot that almost took her life during treatment, which meant essentially living in her hospital room. Him waiting 12 hours in the parking lot while the Forsyth Tech student performed required clinical hours after a 10-day intensive care stay, all so she wouldn’t have to drop out of nursing school.
Her mom, as much on the journey with her, was the only other family member with Glosson when she got the results they had all been waiting for, days earlier than expected.
So for Glosson, who was diagnosed with the lymphoma in 2019 that also later required a stem cell transplant, there was no casually telling her incredibly engaged “Girl Dad” that she was now cancer free.
It had to be epic. Maybe goofy.
The charm of it as he’s standing in their living room earlier this month, is that he can’t hear what she’s saying at first, because she’s made the music incredibly loud while asking him to figure out what she’s saying.
After several attempts at reading her lips and finally catching on, a wide-eyed Deputy B. Glosson starts leaping into the air.
“As a parent,” he said later of his reaction, while still very choked up by the moment, “that’s like winning the lottery.”
And that moment — initially shared online with family and friends — has racked up more than 9 million views and counting on the TikTok social media app.
“Who would have thought,” the very much shocked Glosson said, “this little glimpse of someone’s happiness would have gone viral?”
The ‘C’ word
Glosson once broke her leg on a slide as a toddler.
But her childhood had otherwise largely been routine. Just the usual colds for her and big sister Jessica.
Participating with dance teams at Northwest Guilford, volunteering with the “Women’s Only” runs and “Great 100 of North Carolina” scholarship program and remaining focused on their books, the brown-haired sisters would follow their mother, Smita, into the nursing profession.
Glosson would hold onto a part-time job at Panera’s in high school well into college.
In nursing school she added a job as a CVS pharmacy technician and hospital nursing technician.
Then in 2019, the week after the family surprised Smita with a party to celebrate her doctorate in nursing, Victoria started complaining about a cramp in her right side that wouldn’t go away.
“Being a nurse-mom you say, ‘Did you put heat on it?’ Those probing kind of questions,” Smita Glosson said. “I wondered if it could be a urinary tract infection or her appendix. I said, ‘If it doesn’t go away we need to get it checked out.’ “
It was the start of the Memorial Day weekend and they wouldn’t be able to get to their doctor’s office until Tuesday.
“So then Monday, Memorial Day, she called bright and early and said she’d made an appointment at the Urgent Care,” Smita Glosson said. “I remember telling my husband, ‘Wow, this pain must be really bad because she made this appointment herself.’ “
Victoria Glosson didn’t like going to the doctor.
Her parents insisted on going with her. The attending physician at the after-hours clinic thought it might be her appendix and suggested they go to the emergency deptment.
They later ended up at the emergency department at Moses Cone, where Smita Glosson worked in hospital administration.
The admitting physician ordered a scan of her body.
“We are waiting and waiting,” Smita Glosson said. “It seemed like forever because we were nervous by then. It only took about an hour for the results. The doctor came in and said, ‘Well, we know it’s not her appendix but we have some worries.”
Her lymph nodes were enlarged, including a chain of them in her abdomen, the doctor said.
“You kind of have this out of body experience,” Smita Glosson said. “You have the parent brain and you have the nurse brain and you know exactly what they mean.”
Then he referred them to an oncologist.
“An oncologist? That means it’s cancer,” Glosson responded.
The Glossons all burst into tears.
“It’s a nightmare that came true,” Glosson’s father said. “You never expect that to happen to your kid. We got that news and it was one of our kids.”
They arrived for the first visit with the oncologist just days later.
“Mom, I’m the youngest one here,’” Glosson remarked, looking around.
Something to focus on
Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a bone marrow biopsy. Advanced cancer. Stage 3.
She would go from not being on any medicines to 10 different ones.
Doctors also had to implant a port-a-cath in her chest to administer the chemotherapy.
“We spent some long grueling days in the hospitals and there were times she said, ‘Mom I can’t do this any more. I can’t do chemo anymore.’ “
One thing she never wavered about was nursing school.
“We said, Victoria, how are you going to do all this?” Smita Glosson said. “Wouldn’t it be wise to take the semester off? “
She was adamant about what she could control.
“I don’t want cancer to control my life,” Glosson told them, “and even if it were my last days I want to be in school and doing what I love.”
It gave her something to focus on.
“I do think so because that girl is very strong-headed and has always been like that,” her mother said. “When I was pregnant with her I was put on bed rest for nine weeks because I had started dilating. She was ready to come see this world. When I got off bed rest, she did just that.”
After her daughter’s second dose of chemotherapy, Smita Glosson came home one day to her husband helping her daughter shave her hair off.
“She knew it was about to fall out,” Smita Glosson said. “She said I’m just going to go ahead and shave it.”
Her body, too, had begun to change and because she was so private, people didn’t understand what she was going through.
She had very aggressive chemotherapy and was on steroids and had moved back home. Smita Glosson started sleeping by her bed on a camping cot that she had bought to sleep on at the hospital in bad weather.
“She had some comments that were not nice said to her, and it would hurt her feelings,” her mother said. “It was hard, it was really, really hard going through that.”
Their Victoria, who lit up a room with her smile, needed good news.
“I can say we were very angry, we were at the bottom of the bottom and it was a huge walk with God to get to where we are today,” Smita Glosson said. “We counted every blessing we got.”
October 2019 brought a new complication.
Doctors thought her face might have begun swelling again as a result of the steroids.
And it only took taking a step for her to lose her breath.
It would mean another trip to the hospital.
For much of her life, Cone Hospital had been a place of familiarity for the Glosson girls. The staff had become a de facto family with her mother spending decades there as a nurse or administrator.
While she was there, Dr. Sendil Krishan, one of the physicians in the tight-knit Cone family who Glosson considered an uncle, was taking a look at her scan and noticed a barely visible shadow behind the port-a-cath.
“He said something’s not right,” Glosson recalled. “He said, ‘I see a shadow.’ It was minimal but he was right.”
Doctors would find a 4-inch clot in her heart. It was the largest clot some of them had ever seen.
Options included open heart surgery. There was also a new physician at the hospital who performed AngioVac, a fairly new procedure which prevented having to cut into the heart to remove clots.
“He’s really, really good and I think we need to talk to him and consult him,” a colleague told Smita Glosson.
By then, Glosson had called her sister, who was hundreds of miles away, to say goodbye.
It would be a big decision and Victoria Glosson would become perhaps the youngest person to have the procedure, at least locally. She chose to do it.
“They literally had the saw (for open heart surgery) out and ready to go if anything happened,” she said.
The procedure was successful and a 10-day stay in the ICU followed.
“The doctors that were in there, they now see me up and walking around for work and they say, ‘Victoria we didn’t think you were going to make it,’” Glosson said.
Her oncologist wanted her to take some time off of school after the surgery.
She was still in the fall semester.
Out of the hospital on a Thursday, the next Sunday she would have to make up a 12-hour shift and several mandatory tests to stay in the Forsyth Tech nursing program.
That’s when her dad drove her to the hospital and waited outside the whole shift. Her mother would do the same for another shift.
Her parents were looking for other ways to help her get out of the house and also regain her stamina and bought her a golf cart that Christmas.
It was teal green and built by a friend of Glosson’s father who works for the Greensboro Police Department.
Her parents had wrapped it with a bow and left it in a neighbor’s garage, and later moved it into their own on Christmas Eve. Her dad equipped it with a Bluetooth stereo. Christmas morning, they gave her an envelope and said for her next gift she would have to download an app. When she did and started playing her favorite song, she heard music coming from outside.
She opened the door and squealed with delight.
At the time, she was on oxygen and couldn’t walk from the house to the mailbox.
Sometimes she and her mom or dad would ride around the neighborhood. Then they’d park and listen to music and talk.
She would start walking and when she got tired someone would be behind her in the golf cart, ready to drive her back home. She could soon go from the house to the mailbox. Then from the house to the stop sign down the street. Her endurance improved.
There were other battles.
As with anyone diagnosed with a disease, the medical bills mounted despite insurance.
Her parents help because they don’t want her to start off in life with so much debt. But she is also fiercely independent.
When she was approved for short-term disability, or was approved for a scholarship, she would use it to pay on her debt.
Glosson did everything she was required to do and graduated from the Forsyth Tech program in May 2020. She passed her board exam that June and planned to start the RN to BSN program at UNCG.
By August, the cancer crept back on her neck and chest.
She got the test results the second day of her job as a nurse in the Moses Cone emergency department.
“I was finally living a normal life,” Glosson said. “I was going to work every day. I had an exercise routine. I felt so normal inside.”
She had also started classes at UNCG.
Another round of chemotherapy followed, with a stem cell transplant in October that kept her in the hospital for nearly a month.
“Every time I went to the doctor I would expect bad news just so I could prepare myself,” Glosson recalled.
She gained perspective with each battle.
“Everyone at work would tell me, ‘You are going to overcome this.’ My overall goal became wanting to overcome this and to motivate other people. To be that nurse that can motivate people from the other side of the bed. “
She recalls reading an inspirational Charles Swindoll quote — “Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react.”
That semester, she made As in both her classes.
She graduates this December.
The results of the scan to see if the stem cell transplant worked were supposed to be back on Feb. 12. But they came back two days earlier. And Victoria only took her mom.
“The doctor came in and said, ‘Victoria, you did it’. She said, ‘You literally have a clean scan.’”
Smita Glosson began crying.
Victoria Glosson was full of so many differing emotions as they left the appointment.
But she was adamant about being the one to tell her dad.
“After all this,” Glosson said, “I wanted to do it in a goofy way.”
So, she called her dad at work and said she needed him to come home right away.
Since the first diagnosis, her dad never waited for specifics when she asked. When she said she needed him, he was on his way.
“He comes home and I start recording,” Glosson said of making a video.
Glosson posted the video to her Facebook account. Then the power went out as part of an ongoing ice storm. While waiting for the power to come back on, she got bored and posted the video to TikTok right before her phone battery died.
Two hours later when the power came back on, a slew of notifications popped up on her phone.
While her phone was dead, the video of her dad celebrating her cancer-free announcement racked up 40,000 TikTok views.
“Then I hit 1 million and I was in shock,” she said.
It has since passed 9 million views.
“I feel like a lot of people around the world can relate,” Glosson said. “Maybe someone in their family might have had cancer. Maybe it’s something else.”
Glosson plans to next earn her nursing practitioner certification, which is an advanced nursing degree.
“I would want her as my nurse,” her father said. “Because of her experience she knows just how important it is to get that glass of water, to get that extra blanket. I told her she’s going to be a great mentor to someone who needs one.”
Glosson, who wants to join a speakers’ bureau to share her story, also hopes there are lingering messages in that TikTok video.
“I hope from TikTok people take away that they can accomplish anything.”
Contact Nancy McLaughlin at 336-373-7049 and follow @nmclaughlinNR on Twitter.