Victoria Glosson was lying in bed on Feb. 13 with nothing to do and no electricity after a storm had knocked out the power to her family’s house.
Bored, Glosson decided to share a funny video she had recorded two days earlier of her father. Her phone died soon after her 80-second video was uploaded onto TikTok.
“My family loved the video, so I was like let me just post it,” she said.
Glosson, 22, was working on homework for one of her classes in the UNC Greensboro School of Nursing when power was finally restored to her house and her phone turned back on. Her phone immediately started buzzing.
When Glosson checked her phone, she saw that her video had 30,000 views on TikTok, then 1 million views, and soon more than 9 million views. The UNCG nursing student had gone viral over the Valentine’s Day weekend.
Millions of people around the globe have been touched by Glosson’s heartwarming video. In the short clip, she captures the moment when she informs her father, former UNCG police officer Barry Glosson, that she’s cancer-free after battling Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma for nearly two years.
Her mother, Dr. Smita Glosson, who earned her bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from UNCG in 1996, was getting ready for work one morning when she saw her daughter’s video on NBC’s “Today” show.
It was then featured on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”
“We just did not expect it to go that far, but people were sending me just such kind messages like how they were smiling,” Glosson said. “People with cancer were reaching out to me, asking for advice. It was just so heartwarming the amount of good things that people were saying, and the support was insane.
“I was like ‘Oh my gosh. Never in a million years would you ever guess this.’”
Of course, not much about the past two years has gone as Glosson planned.
Glosson, an Oak Ridge native, is a nurse like her mother and her older sister. She works in the emergency department at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.
She’s also in her second semester in UNCG’s RN-to-BSN program, in which registered nurses go back to school to earn their BSN degree. She’s scheduled to graduate in December.
On May 27, 2019, Glosson was working toward earning her associate’s degree in nursing from Forsyth Technical Community College when she felt a cramp in her side. It was Memorial Day, and she decided to go to the Moses Cone emergency department to get a scan.
Glosson felt fine, but she thought her cramp might have something to do with her appendix. However, when her test results came back, she was told her body had “lit up like a Christmas tree” in the scan because of how much cancer was in her body.
As Glosson was leaving the emergency department, a nurse told her that her cancer diagnosis would make her a better nurse.
“I didn’t really understand that at the time. I was like ‘Why would she say that? That’s not the right time to tell me that,’” Glosson said. “But now I finally understand why it really does make you not only a better nurse but a better person, and I can relate to my patients.”
Glosson started chemotherapy two weeks later, and despite objections from her parents and her oncologist, she continued with nursing school at Forsyth Tech. She graduated last May, but along the way, a large blood clot was discovered in her heart that was nearly fatal.
On Aug. 3, 2020, Glosson started her job as a nurse at Moses Cone. The next day, her doctor called during her lunch break and informed her that her cancer had returned and that she’d need a stem cell transplant to remove it.
As if that weren’t enough, Glosson started her first semester in the RN-to-BSN program at UNCG a few days later and then another round of chemotherapy two days after that. She spent a month in the hospital after having a stem cell transplant in October.
“A few weeks into the semester, Victoria emailed to let me know she may be a few days late turning in an assignment because she was scheduled to undergo a stem cell transplant for relapsed Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” said Jennifer Wilson, a clinical assistant professor in the UNCG School of Nursing.
“When I first read her email, I thought to myself, ‘How is she going to do this?’ As an oncology nurse for over a decade, I have a deep-seated understanding for the physical, psychological, and emotional implications that come along with cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
Glosson ended up getting an “A” in both of her RN-to-BSN classes that semester. Wilson regularly checked in with Glosson and became like a comforting friend as she went through her health issues.
“It has been truly inspiring to work with someone like Victoria who demonstrates perseverance, determination, and unrelenting positivity in spite of extreme personal hardship,” Wilson said.
After everything she had been through, Glosson said she didn’t want to simply tell her father on Feb. 11 that her first PET scan after her stem cell transplant showed that the procedure had worked and her cancer was gone.
“So whenever we got home from the doctor’s office that Thursday, I made up something to my dad,” Glosson said. “I was like ‘Hey, I have a class assignment due. Can you please come home?’ I could not wait to tell him. I was ecstatic. I was so excited, and I could not hold it in.”
Glosson lied to her father and told him she had written a paper about him and needed his help with a video for it. She had him put in AirPods, and she played country singer Luke Combs’ “Beer Never Broke My Heart” loud over the headphones so he couldn’t hear what she was saying.
Glosson then made her father read her lips as she softly said, “I’m cancer-free.” He didn’t understand what she was saying at first, but as soon as he realized it, he celebrated by jumping around the house and hugging his wife.
“That’s like his little happy dance,” Glosson said. “It was no surprise that he reacted the way that he reacted because he reacts that way to everything.”
Thanks to her viral video, the rest of the world has gotten the chance to watch his happy dance and celebrate in Glosson’s good news.
Story by Alex Abrams, School of Nursing
Photography courtesy of Victoria Glosson