Eight years ago, Lynn Wyatt’s whole world was turned upside down in a matter of two hours. The Sandy Springs resident and mother of a then 2 year old and 4 year old had just been diagnosed with breast cancer after her first mammogram at the age of 40.
“It was the worst day of my life,” says Lynn, “I wondered what this meant for the rest of my life.” Family, friends and neighbors in the Glenridge Hammond neighborhood provided love and support, pitching in to help her husband, Ian, with everything from meals to childcare during her treatment and surgeries.
After several months, Lynn was back in action on the tennis court and back to taking action in the Sandy Springs community where she sits on numerous boards at her children’s schools.
And she began to count the anniversaries. One year cancer free. Two years cancer free. Three years cancer free. Lynn felt blessed to be alive to see her son graduate from elementary school. To be able to bring her daughter to her first day of second grade. To take trips with her girlfriends and adopt a rescue puppy to keep her aging Labrador company.
At 44 years old, Lynn thought she had cancer beat. Although she was in the best shape of her adult life, she started having pain in her back and in the center of her chest. She attributed the back pain to getting older and her doctor said the pain in her chest was just scar tissue. But the pain persisted. Finally Lynn was sent for a CT scan.
It wasn’t good news. The cancer had metastasized and the scan found tumors from her femur to her brain. As Lynn says, this was the second worst day of her life, but her choice was clear. “I choose to win instead of choosing to give in,” she says.
For the next four years, that included more chemotherapy and countless radiation procedures. “While I have bad things happen to me, I also have great things to fix me,” Lynn says about the technology and treatments that have been available to her.
One of her favorite doctors became the soft spoken but powerful Dr. Shannon Kahn, a radiation oncologist at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Dr. Kahn specializes in Gamma Knife and stereotactic body radiotherapy and she has been published and trained in using these treatments to minimize side effects for patients. In fact, Lynn has the distinction of having had seven Gamma Knife procedures to treat 21 brain lesions–the most of any patient at Emory Saint Joseph’s.
Today, Lynn is once again cancer free and busily preparing for another school year with Andrew, 13, an 8th grader at Ridgeview Charter Middle School and 10-year-old Alex, a 5th grader at High Point Elementary. She is an active breast cancer patient advocate working with Susan G. Komen Atlanta and the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs as a grant reviewer. Lynn also supports the Atlanta-based TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation.
Lynn’s strength, courage and amazing attitude through her cancer journey has been an inspiration for many. “No matter what happens, it’s important to keep living your life as if nothing is different.”