Each year, Blue Cross of NEPA chooses ten people for the Gallery of Hope, area women- and men- who are willing to share their stories of beating breast cancer. Officials are now ready to choose the next round of honorees for the 10th annual program.
Jill Wetzel, from Factoryville, was one of the 2011 Gallery of Hope honorees. Back in 2007, Jill had just turned 40 and was about to get a routine mammogram. But a doctor told her not to wait for her appointment. It turned out she had stage three inflammatory breast cancer.”I thought I’d go home and eat a cheesesteak and fries, you know, or do something I normally wouldn’t do. But I didn’t. I meade a healthy salad. I continued with my life,” said Wetzel, a mother of three. “I didn’t have the time to stop or let it slow me down.
Four years, chemotherapy, a surgery and radiation later, Jill is cancer free and says she feels great.
The Gallery of Hope is on the road 52 weeks a year at various hospitals, public buildinds, and other sites around the area. Blue Cross spokesman Anthony Matrisciano says there are many inspiring candidates nominated by friends, family or co-workers each year.
“We have a group that looks at all the nominations at the end of the year. They look for a wide range of stories, different ages and backgrounds, to help inspire other people,” said Matrisciano.
And that’s exactly what hearing stories of survival did for Jill in some of her darkest moments.
“When I was diagnosed, I needed to hear stories of hope. 6 months is great, one year out great. You hear five and 10 years out and you start to think, I can get through this!” Wetzel added.