Jacqueline C.

Breast Cancer - Stage 2B

Jacqueline Cain

Today I am feeling great. Because of my treatment at City of Hope, which focused on my whole body and my mind, I feel like I have a second chance at life. After my last treatment, we took a cruise vacation and I remember sitting on the deck and looking at my daughters and saying, 'we made it.'

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results. 

In my early 40s, I began having mammograms twice a year, more often than annually because I have dense breast tissue. In late 2012, the mammogram showed no signs of cancer, but I was doing a breast self-exam and felt a lump. I asked the clinic where I had my mammograms performed to see if the pathologist had noticed anything at all, maybe a vague hint that warranted further testing.

In January of 2013, I saw a radiologist at a hospital near our home in Atlanta, Georgia, and she performed a biopsy. A few days later, on my 48th birthday, she called with my diagnosis. She wanted me to come back for more biopsies. Of the three total biopsies I had, two contained cancerous tissue.

It was strangely relieving to finally have the diagnosis. But that time in my life was also filled with difficulty. I had a daughter with cerebral palsy who died from renal failure just at the time of my diagnosis. But I made a promise to her in her last days that I would fight the disease, which is exactly what I proceeded to do.

Finding a home

My radiologist referred me to a surgeon at the same hospital. He recommended a double mastectomy. Even though breast cancer was present in only one breast, the breast dense tissue increased the risk of a future malignancy not being detected, leaving me doing endless biopsies. I agreed with the recommendation, and in March 2013, I had a double mastectomy with reconstructive plastic surgery. I also had some lymph nodes removed.

After the procedure, the surgeon told me that I needed to see an oncologist for further treatment. I then went to a well-known hospital in the area to be tested for brca, a genetic variant associated with a particular type of breast cancer. While waiting for results, I saw a commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA)* late one night, I figured I had nothing to lose and made the call.

From that first phone call, I had a good experience. My calls were returned promptly. All my questions were answered without anyone making me feel like they were in a rush. I felt like we—my family and I—had finally found a home, the response from CTCA® was a huge relief.

Summer at CTCA

My treatment began in July and consisted of 25 rounds of radiation, administered every Monday through Friday for six weeks. Because we live an hour and a half away from the hospital, I decided to stay at CTCA Atlanta during the radiation. My children were with me and we ended up having a wonderful summer there.

The atmosphere at the hospital enabled me to be free to heal. I could be mindless there, with nothing to worry about or tend to. The staff was personable. The food was wonderful. And I have a whole collage of all the paintings my daughters and I did with the mind-body therapy program.

I also began taking tamoxifen, which may help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. When I began experiencing some side effects from this medication, my naturopath at CTCA worked with me to find ways to reduce these issues, such as an upset stomach. I was also given creams to treat radiation burns. If I was feeling depressed, I could speak with a mind-body provider to find techniques to relax. When I experienced swelling in my arms as a result of the lymph node removal, a physical therapist taught me exercises to help control it.

CTCA also supported my husband, who was my caregiver and an incredibly great support to me. We had just been through such a difficult time in our family and now he was plunged into caring for me. The Care Team at CTCA answered all his questions and helped give him peace of mind that I was in good hands.

One day at a time

Coping with a cancer diagnosis isn’t easy. Not being certain about your health status, not being able to relax until you get those next test results—that’s stressful. But I learned to set the worries aside and take one day at a time.

Today I am feeling great. Because of my treatment at CTCA, which focused on my whole body and my mind, I feel like I have a second chance at life. After my last treatment, we took a cruise vacation and I remember sitting on the deck and looking at my daughters and saying, “we made it.”

I know that I made it through cancer because of the care and support that I was given. Everyone I met at CTCA, including other patients, became part of my support system. Having a doctor who listened to me and addressed my real needs gave me a sense of empowerment that helped see me through.

* Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®, working together to expand patient access to personalized, comprehensive cancer care. Because this patient testimonial was written and published before CTCA® and City of Hope joined forces, mentions of legacy CTCA locations have not been updated in the interest of maintaining the patient’s original voice and story details.

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