“Cancer don’t have no age, no name, no color,” exclaims Jackie Griffin, who was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in the summer of 2009. It all began with a mailer from the doctor’s office, reminding Jackie of her annual mammogram, which she missed the previous year. Fortunately for Jackie, she responded by getting a mammogram, where doctors found a lump in her left breast. They proceeded with further testing until it was confirmed that she had breast cancer. “I never did cry, never did show emotion,” she recalls. The doctors carefully went over with Jackie the specifications of the cancer, how far it had grown in her system and options for treating the disease.
Upon hearing the news Jackie went directly home and told the news to her friends and family. “I called everyone myself,” she says, “I knew how to explain it better” then having friends and family spread the news themselves. Whereas her faith sustained, she strongly believed she might lose her life to cancer. “My cousin died in 1999, my sister-in-law in 2000. I thought, ‘they had [breast cancer] and died, I probably will too.’”
On October 21, 2009 Jackie underwent a mastectomy of the left breast, which was immediately replaced with an implant. She still praises her husband for his unconditional love and support. “He did everything for me that I couldn’t do myself.” Her children and grandchildren didn’t shy from lending a hand either. “It’s all about support,” she reminds herself, “my family got me through.”
Following her mastectomy and a quick recovery, Jackie started taking chemo pills and had enough strength to head back to work, the side effects of chemo kicked in. She experienced severe hair loss, nausea and hot flashes. No matter how physically weak she became, Jackie never gave up. God kept telling her, “I brought it to you; I’ll bring it through it.” Not one to accept pity but rather fight like a warrior, Jackie’s faith outlived the hair loss and nausea proving that it wasn’t her time to die. “I came back for a reason,” which is to share her story.
Today, Jackie can proudly say she is cancer free. She still goes in every three months for a check-up and she frequently reminds women to get breast examinations. To her surprise, Jackie has found that a lot of women she knows have never gotten a breast examination before. “You got to motivate yourself,” she states, “time makes all the difference.”
What better way to celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October than to get a mammogram? For the past several years, non-profit organizations and government programs have established funds to allow all women the opportunity for a mammogram. “CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides access to breast and cervical cancer screening services to underserved women all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and 12 tribes.” For more information, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp.
Featured in By U Magazine’s Fall 2010 Issue as Amanda Williford