Jackie Shares Her 'I Can' Story on Beating Breast Cancer
"Jefferson was wonderful. They all made me feel warm and comfortable"
Jackie was speechless. She had breast cancer. How could she have cancer?
“It was scary. I was dumbfounded. It felt like … in my mind I was just saying ‘what is cancer’ ... I felt stupid. So, I educated myself.”
She had recently turned 45. She was young, the younger of her two sons was just 14. She had too much to do to have breast cancer.
It was cancer. Stage III breast cancer.
One thing that Jackie already knew was that she wanted to get a second opinion at Jefferson. Both her mother and father worked at Jefferson, and she knew a lot of people here.
It was April 2008.
Rita M. Battaglini, RN, BSN, ONC, the nurse coordinator of the Jefferson Breast Care Center, was the first person on the breast cancer team Jackie met.
“She sat down and went over the pathology report with me. I was so emotional at that point.”
After meeting with Rita, Jackie also met with Adam Berger, MD, FACS, a surgeon and member of the breast cancer treatment team at Jefferson. The team includes radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, reconstructive surgeons and other specialists.
“Dr. Berger went over my options,” Jackie says.
She didn’t have many options. Her cancer was aggressive. Dr. Berger recommended a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and then radiation.
She had her surgery three months later.
The operation and reconstructive surgery took most of the day.
“When I woke up it was about 9 o’clock that night.”
Later, Jackie started five months of chemotherapy at Jefferson with Lewis J. Rose, MD, FACP. And there was the radiation therapy every weekday for nearly two months with radiation oncologist Rani Anne, MD.
When she was ready to return to work, the company had eliminated her position. She lost her health insurance. As a result, she started canceling her appointments.
She kept canceling and rescheduling until she finally couldn’t take it anymore. “I got hysterical and I called Rita.”
Rita got Jackie connected with a social worker who identified an insurance program for patients like Jackie. Within a week of signing the paperwork, Jackie had health insurance again.
Rita was concerned and asked Jackie to call her with any issues.
“She told me ‘don’t you ever do that again. If you ever have a problem again, you call me right away.’”
Now it has been over three years and Jackie is cancer free. She is grateful to the entire team of doctors, nurses and the many other people who were part of her care team.
“Jefferson was wonderful,” she says. “They all made me feel warm and comfortable.”
Of course, there is a special place in her heart for the woman who helped guide her through her treatment journey.
“Rita is a lifesaver!”
With Rita and the entire team at the Jefferson Breast Care Center, Jackie now says I Cancer Overcome.