How Sister Wright’s battle with cancer taught her to see others through the eyes of the Savior

While spending hours in the hospital’s infusion room every week fighting for her life, Sister Amy A. Wright met hundreds of people, each with a unique story. 

“They never talked about what they did for a living or where they graduated from school, how much money they made, the type of car they drove, where they traveled,” she recalled. “But I saw lots and lots of pictures of people that they loved.”

Talking with strangers and looking at photos of their loved ones helped her see — through the eyes of the Savior Jesus Christ — what really matters. 

In late 2015, Sister Wright was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. The only way her family made it through the aggressive treatments, she said, was focusing on the Savior. 

“When it was all about me, the world became a really dark place. But when my focus turned outward, when I would strive to serve others and walk the way Christ walked, there was light and joy, even during the greatest pain and suffering,” said Sister Wright, who was sustained as second counselor in the Primary general presidency during April 2021 general conference

Sister Wright described her battle with cancer as a “polishing and refining experience” — one that was “uniquely tailored” to help her come to know the Savior in a deeply personal way. It also taught her that additional strength comes in seeking to learn and understand others’ diverse challenges. 

“You don’t go through a battle like that for yourself,” she said of the fight against cancer. “You do it for your family. … You do it for the people you love. … You want them to also have an experience with the Savior. That is what it’s all about, coming to know Christ.”

Whenever Sister Wright hears a powerful testimony, “I think to myself, there’s a story there, and it came with a price.” 

The Wright family during their visit to Denmark in 2019.
The Wright family during their visit to Denmark in 2019. Credit: Provided by Amy Wright

Amy Eileen Anderson Wright was born Jan. 6, 1972, in Salt Lake City to Joy Bailey and Robert Anderson, both of whom descended from pioneer ancestry. She was raised in South Ogden, Utah, with a twin brother, older brother and younger brother. 

Growing up, Sister Wright was very involved in sports. She played soccer and volleyball and participated in gymnastics. She also participated in student government in junior high and high school and took six years of Spanish classes. 

Other than the legacy of faith and courage from pioneer heritage, Sister Wright said perhaps the greatest strength of her family is “we are a family that worships a God of second chances. We have learned how to repent and forgive really, really well. And it’s hard and it takes practice.”

This has been a focus for her and her husband, Brother James McConkie Wright, in raising their three sons. “When someone is down and out for whatever reason, we go to where they are and we link arms and we fight in family formation,” she said. 

Brother and Sister Wright met in a political science class at the University of Utah. They were sealed on June 24, 1994, in the Salt Lake Temple, by F. Briton McConkie, Brother Wright’s grandfather. 

Shortly after they were married, they moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Brother Wright attended dental school for four years. Sister Wright worked in the student media department in the College of Communication at Marquette University in Wisconsin. 

The Wrights returned to Salt Lake City after Brother Wright earned his dental degree. Sister Wright graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies from the University of Utah in 1998. They have lived in the Salt Lake area for the past 23 years. 

As Brother and Sister Wright reflect on raising their three sons, they credit scripture study, music and service for keeping them close as a family and strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Every morning before the children left for school, the Wrights sat around their small kitchen table and studied the scriptures together.

“It was important to us that our boys did not leave without first being armed with the word of God,” Sister Wright said. “Our prayer was always that one day when they found themselves far from home on a mission, away to college, or even with the weight of the world on their shoulders as a young husband and father, that they would run to the scriptures. And the scriptures would be so familiar to them, that it would feel as if they were home.”

The Primary general presidency as of April 2021 are President Camille N. Johnson, center; Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor, left; and Sister Amy Wright, second counselor.
The Primary general presidency as of April 2021 are President Camille N. Johnson, center; Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor, left; and Sister Amy Wright, second counselor. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

One day while cleaning the kitchen after taking the boys to school, Sister Wright noticed a small defect in the table. The wood was starting to flake in an area. She touched it up with polish and varnish, but over the months, weeks and years, the defect grew bigger. 

It wasn’t until her sons were older that she realized this was where their middle son would sit, always with his head down. “For years and years and years, as he listened to the scriptures, he would pick at our table,” Sister Wright said. 

She remembers calling her husband at work and telling him through her tears: “We can never sell that table. This is where our boys have come to know the Savior.”

Even though their sons lettered in multiple sports, music was always a priority for the Wright family, and all three sons learned to play the piano and organ — a talent they have used in future callings and on their missions. They also played drums, bagpipes, saxophone and clarinet. 

Brother Wright said the family’s effort to do service as Sister Wright was battling cancer helped them focus on others. They learned that “as you look outside yourself, the Lord will bless you with greater capacity to do good,” he said.

Amy Wright: Are we prepared to receive what the Lord offers us?

During middle-of-the-night pleadings with the Lord on some of her darkest days, Sister Wright remembers feeling that if her battle with cancer would help her sons become more tender, loving husbands and fathers, “it is 100% worth it, and I would do it again and again,” she said. 

“Especially in this day and age, for when we raise valiant, noble, tenderhearted, capable, loving men, it always blesses the lives of women and children in miraculous and incalculable ways.”

In 2018, Sister Wright was called to serve on the Young Women general advisory council

Being raised in a family of all boys and having three sons, “you can imagine how excited I was to be called to serve on the Young Women general advisory council because now I have had, for the last couple of years, over 500,000 daughters that I get to pray for every single day.”

Sister Wright has also served as a stake Primary president, ward Primary president, a counselor in a ward Primary presidency, Young Women adviser, Relief Society teacher, Gospel Doctrine teacher and Cub Scout leader.  

Brother Wright praised his wife’s ability to make people feel welcome, comfortable and included. “One of the things I just love about my sweetheart is that she has a great capacity to love,” he said. 

“She has a closeness to the Spirit and is able to receive that inspiration and revelation and then act upon it.  … I’ve learned very quickly in our marriage when Amy has an impression that we listen and we act upon those impressions.”

Sister Amy A. Wright and her husband, Brother James McConkie Wright.
Sister Amy A. Wright and her husband, Brother James McConkie Wright. Credit: Tom Hanson Photography

As a new Primary general leader, Sister Wright said she wants children around the globe to not only understand their identity as children of God, but also their purpose. 

“They are needed to help prepare for the Second Coming of our Savior,” she said. “And when young people feel that this isn’t just grandma and grandpa’s church, this isn’t just their mom and dad’s church, this is their church and they have a role to play, it’s amazing the miracles that can come from these little bodies with developing minds and growing testimonies. …

“We all serve in different parts of the Lord’s vineyard at different times in our life. But it’s the same vineyard with the same Master,” Sister Wright said. “Our hope is also the same — which is eternal life and exaltation. That’s what we desire for all of these precious little children, that their Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ will be part of their journey, and that they will return home to live with Them.”

Just as God finds beauty in diversity, children do, too. “They come to this world full of faith and joy, and they come with believing hearts,” she said. “They radiate the true love of Christ. And you can see why the Savior admonishes us to become like them.”

One of children’s greatest strengths is their ability to make connections, Sister Wright said. “I think as a society, it should be our greatest strength. Because as sons and daughters of God, we have so much more in common than we could ever possibly have that’s different.”

Biographical information

Family: Born Jan. 6, 1972, in Salt Lake City to Robert Anderson and Joy Bailey. Married James McConkie Wright on June 24, 1994, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have three children. 

Education: Earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies from the University of Utah in 1998. 

Employment: Worked in the student media department in the College of Communication at Marquette University in Wisconsin and as a reading tutor. Volunteered with the Parent Teacher Association, the Spectrum Program, and through JustServe. Most recently she assisted with marketing and advertising for a dental office.

Church service: Young Women general advisory council, stake Primary president, ward Primary president, counselor in a ward Primary presidency, Young Women adviser, Relief Society teacher, Gospel Doctrine teacher and Cub Scout leader.