Beloved weatherman Rusty Garrett says faith, family and community are his blessings as he battles cancer
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Beloved KWTX weatherman Rusty Garrett, 67, who retired in 2019 after 30 years at Channel 10, but continues to anchor weekend mornings, has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and in true “Rusty style,” he’s finding a way to find sunshine in the rain.
“Sure, we all deal with struggles, and we all have things in life that we have to deal with, spiritually, physically, economically, financially, but if you just take a moment to stop and think about all the blessings you have - I know, for me, the blessings far outweigh the struggles,” Rusty said.
The veteran meteorologist was diagnosed in July with stage 2 to 3 esophageal cancer, which is cancer that occurs in the esophagus, a long, hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach.
Rusty’s first symptoms were digestive issues. “I know for a fact that I had the symptoms fairly early. In fact, six months ago, I started having digestive problems,” Rusty said.
“I would look at a plate of food and I would think, ‘oh.’ I would get so stressed because I knew anything real solid, I was going to have a hard time getting down and that caused weight loss.”
Rusty underwent an endoscope at Baylor Scott & White in Temple, where doctors discovered the tumor.
“They discovered that mass and found out after a biopsy that the tumor was malignant,” Rusty said. “But, hey, let me tell you some good news, they found it at a time before it started to spread to other vital organs.”
Rusty has wasted no time fighting back and is already three weeks into chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He undergoes radiation treatment Monday through Friday and chemotherapy once a week at the Baylor Scott & White McClinton Cancer Center, where he says he’s getting excellent care.
Rusty said he has good days and bad, but he’s choosing to focus on the positive.
“We all have to take some wicked turns in life,” Rusty said. “It’s just how you navigate staying in the middle of the road, and that’s what my goal is, to stay positive.”
Rusty said the medical staff at the Baylor Scott & White facilities in Temple and Waco has been a Godsend and so have the KWTX viewers who have sent well-wishes to the popular weatherman since hearing the news.
“I just have such a great team of doctors, nurses, oncologists, volunteers, and most of all, all of you out there who have supported me with your beautiful comments and your prayers on my Facebook page. It is great and it is an uplifting experience to be able to read those.”
Rusty says he’s leaning into his faith in God and his love of family during this challenging time. He calls his wife, Ann, his rock and acknowledges he could never do this without her.
Rusty also finds motivation in frequent Facetime calls to South Dakota with his Air Force son, Will, daughter-in-law, Drew, and first grandchild, Liam, who will be 5-months-old Thursday.
“He’s the best medicine,” Rusty said through tears. “I want to be able to live long enough to have that little boy run up and jump into my arms. That’s what I want. It is a primary motivation to survive this.”
Rusty will have three more weeks of radiation and chemotherapy before undergoing a major six-to-seven-hour surgery in December to remove the tumor. That surgery will require a weeks-long hospital stay and a feeding tube.
But despite the daunting days ahead of him, Rusty is doing what Rusty does best: thinking of others before himself.
“It’s going to be a tough struggle coming up because I have major surgery in December, right about the time for Toys for Tots. So, if I could just say one thing. Please help Brady and the weather team collect Toys for Tots because I’ll be there in spirit, for sure.”
While Rusty hesitated to share his cancer diagnosis publicly, he says if it helps just one person, it was worth it.
“This is a struggle and there are good days and there are certainly bad days but my intention is to try and encourage those that are in this same journey to focus a little bit more on the blessings, because if you woke up this morning and you were able to breath God’s good air you’ve got one blessing already under your belt.”
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