Legendary disco sensation Gloria Gaynor's emotional anthem, I Will Survive, has moved millions with its message of empowerment. Released in 1978, the song shot to the top of the charts and went double platinum. Gloria explains to The Doctors what her hit song means to her.
"It's been so wonderful for me, because it's added so much meaning and purpose to my life," Gloria explains. "Many of us wonder through the years, 'What am I doing here?' 'What am I supposed to be doing?' 'Why am I here?' And [the song] has let me know that I'm not just here taking up space, breathing the air. I'm actually doing something that's adding something and is worthwhile to people's lives."
We Will Survive Giveaway
Are you inspired by stories of endurance? Or, perhaps you have beat the odds yourself. Tell us your story of survival and enter for your chance to win a copy of Gloria Gaynor's We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration and the Power of Song. This giveaway has expired.
In her book, We Will Survive, Gloria shares 40 true stories about survivors who have found comfort, hope and courage through the power of her hit song. Gloria also opens up for the first time about her own personal life struggles, including the murder of her sister and the breakup of her marriage.
There was one story that touched Gloria deeply — that of Annie, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor. Annie, who lost her mother and little sister during the war and barely survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp before being liberated by the Russian Army, says Gloria's song became her anthem, too.
"I went through the Holocaust from the beginning to the end, but I survived," Annie says.
A Cure for Alcoholism?
For years, Todd says he drank an occasional beer with friends, but did not imbibe much beyond that. All that changed, he says, when he went through a difficult time at work and began drinking more heavily while alone. After he suffered a breakdown during a family vacation — and worried about Todd's influence over their son, Jackson — Todd's estranged wife, Teresa, says she asked her husband to move out.
In the past couple of months, Teresa says Todd's appearance has changed drastically, and she doesn't recognize him anymore. Todd drinks a bottle of rum a day and Teresa says he hasn't seen his 9-year-old son in three months. "I don't want Jackson to see his father in the state that he is," she says.
"Drinking has ruined my life," Todd says. "I've lost my house, my son. I've lost my family. I am absolutely at rock bottom. It's just so sad, because I care about [my wife], and I love my son so much."
Todd — who has been to both rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous in the past — agrees to try a new medical treatment for alcoholism. Using a time-release implant called Naltrexone, internist Dr. George Fallieras, director of the Start Fresh Alcohol Recovery Clinic, hopes to curb Todd's cravings for alcohol. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist that blocks the parts of the brain that feel pleasure from alcohol or narcotics.
Todd will also receive additional life coaching from Jeremy Miller — former child star from the hit show Growing Pains — who has battled alcoholism for more than 15 years. Jeremy credits Naltrexone and the life coaching program with saving his marriage and life.
"The medicine is a wonderful tool, but the life coaching is where you get the skills in life — and the emotional skills, the mental, spiritual skills — to be able to stay sober long-term," Jeremy says.
Skin Turning to Stone
When Jaiden was 6, his adoptive parents, Natalie and Tim, noticed a hard piece of skin on his thigh. After a biopsy, Natalie and Tim learned that Jaiden suffered from stiff skin syndrome, a connective tissue disorder characterized by hard, thick skin. The disorder is so rare, that Jaiden is only the 41st case reported.
After his diagnosis, Natalie says the syndrome "spread like wildfire" to both of Jaiden's knees, around his hip, his backside and his spine. There is no cure for stiff skin syndrome, although chemotherapy may slow down its progress.
Jaiden can't walk well and uses a wheelchair. Natalie says he also has autistic spectrum disorder and brain damage due to fetal alcohol syndrome. "You sit and cry in bed every night wondering what you can do," she says. "You spend a lot of time on the Internet to see if there's anything that's new that they can do. You feel bad for Jaiden, because you don't know how far it's going to go, and you don't know what's going to happen to him in the long run."
• To learn more about fundraising efforts on Jaiden's behalf, please go to youcaring.com.