Be fierce, be fit, be kind, be happy, be you…

This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Every other Friday, starting in January throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

Allow Jackie to introduce herself:

There is so much going on in my life right now. I am 28 years old, a newlywed and I am pursuing my PhD in Genetics at Thomas Jefferson University. Interestingly, the focus of my research is breast cancer. My life took a huge turn in the summer of 2010 when I, the researcher, became the patient. 

living beyond breast cancer, 20th anniversary 2011, jackie roth

Jackie and her husband, Ron. Jackie is a happy newlywed!

In March of 2010, I felt a lump in my breast and I went to my doctor to get it checked out.  She said that it was a cyst and that because I am so young, there really wasn’t anything to worry about.  Reassured that it was nothing, I went on with my life normally for the next three months.  But the lump got bigger and I became persistent, getting a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy on June 29, 2010.  I could just read the radiologist’s face during my biopsy and I knew what was coming… 

Yup…cancer.  Stage III, ER/PR+, HER2-, Grade 3, Node Positive, no BRCA mutations.  The overall plan is chemotherapy, followed by surgery, then radiation. I have had numerous obstacles and changes in my plan along the way: a very low white blood cell (WBC) count that won’t rise on its own (this lead to an 8-week delay in treatment), a change in treatment numbers from 16 down to 8 and my oncologist went on maternity leave. Not to mention, I may have a parasite infection in my gut, which I learned of during my honeymoon.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Joining organizations like LBBC have helped me get through this whirlwind!  I met so many great people, especially at LBBC’s fall conference this past November. I think of the conference everyday because I’m still wearing my Wish Bracelet that we tied on each other’s writs at the end of the conference.  My part of the bracelet says “Be Fierce, Be Fit, Be Kind, Be Happy, Be You” and I’ve tried to apply these words to my life:

Be Fierce: After having long ringlet curls all my life, I would say that walking around with a buzzed pixie haircut is pretty fierce!  My hair grew back in during my delay in treatments, but it’s on its way out again just in time for the cold. 

Be Fit:  Does using my Wii count? 

Be Kind:  I can’t even begin to count the ways that people have been so kind to me throughout this time in my life.  It brings me to tears thinking about what everyone has done.

Be Happy: This holiday season I really have so much to be happy about: a wonderful new husband, supportive family and friends, and a great opportunity to really help the breast cancer community with the research that I do.  

Be You: This experience is going to be so different for everyone. I think we will all end up learning about ourselves along the way.  Being diagnosed with breast cancer has made me slow down, and stop to enjoy my life.  My resolution for the New Year is to continue to stay slow and make plenty of ME time.  I never really thought that I would be fighting this cancer in two ways at once, but here I am. I’m happy to share my journey with you… 

fall conference, news you can use: breast cancer updates for living well, sherry lebed davis

Be Kind…Be Fit…Be Fierce…Be You…Be Happy…

How are you applying these words to your everyday life? Tell Jackie how you plan to “be kind, be fit, be fierce, be you and be happy” in 2011 and beyond! Comment here or on our facebook page.

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19 Responses to “Be fierce, be fit, be kind, be happy, be you…”

  1. Kristen Says:

    You amaze me sweetpea! Great job with the blog, your positive energy radiates in your writing. Continue to “Be Fierce, Be Fit, Be Kind, Be Happy, Be You” xo

  2. Sarah Says:

    I am also a young breast cancer survivor (diagnosed in Jan. 2010 at age 26). I admire you and your attitude. I am also forever in debt to those people who helped me out this year. I’m single and live on my own so I had to learn to depend on others, which totally goes against my nature. I wish you the best of luck with treatment and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

  3. Jillian Says:

    Cannot wait to continue reading your fantastic posts and thanks for letting us come along this journey with you :)

  4. Supriya Says:

    Such a beautiful blog!! Every word is full of positive attitude!! You sure are living those words. Wish you the best of luck. May you have a great year ahead with lot of health and happiness!

  5. Sudar Says:

    Way to be, Jack! You inspire everyone around you with your strength, courage, and most of all your positive atttude. You are a great testiment to the fact that cancer does not difine you, it’s just another hurdle that you have taken in stride!

  6. michelediveterano@gmail.com Says:

    I am really inspired by you, Jackie. Thank you for sharing, thank you for your kind and generous way and most of all thank you for being so positive. You are a role model for us all.

  7. Betsy Says:

    Wow Jackie, I am in awe of your attitude during this process. I think yours is a testament to being your best advocate. My mother’s cancer wasn’t diagnosed by her doctor for way too long, and as a result, it was not only in her breasts, but her lymph nodes as well. Doctors are wonderful, but they may not always be right. We women know our bodies best, and I’m glad you insisted on getting a mammogram when you did. You’re gonna beat this thing in no time!

  8. steph will-schreier Says:

    I got chills reading this blog and am thinking of you and your husband now and always. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you Jackie. You are a strong woman with a strong heart.
    Stay strong like when you were strong at GA XC!!!!

  9. Jackie Roth Says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and wonderful wishes! Knowing that I have all of you behind me helps me to stay strong!!! :-)

  10. Melissa Says:

    I loved reading your short story. Michelle informed me of your new journey and I can relate. In May 2010 I was diagnosed at 26 yrs. old. It seemed like my world was turned upside down. I too have learned to slow down and enjoy life. Although cancer is seen as a negative thing, it truly has helped me be a better person and I have learned so much during my personal journey (the ups, downs, tears, and laughter). Stay strong. Keep your head up! I finished chemo in October and just started reconstruction this month!!! There really is a light at the end of the tunnel! I am so glad to see you have wonderful support and people to lean on! It’s important for the fight! If you ever wanna chat, please feel free to contact me.

  11. Carol Signore Says:

    What a great idea this is, Jackie. I think I’ve been so paralyzed by my sorrow over this challenge for you that it’s been impossible to know what to say. I wonder how you are a lot and wish I could know more about your progress but you’ve always been a pretty private person and I can’t imagine your wanting to be inundated with random queries (however well meaning) from friends who are wondering and hoping for the best. So this is great. I will read your posts with enormous interest and I will continue to be inspired by your courage and determination. I definitely know where you got those particular qualities.
    So I hope you will stay strong and just “Keep Going!” (as a certain famous’ Janitor’ I know is quoted as saying.) If anyone can beat this thing you will. In the meantime I will be reading your blog and rooting big time for you.
    Love,
    Carol Signore

  12. Jen DeLutis Says:

    Jackie – thank you for sharing your story with everyone. You’ve always been an inspirational person…this elevates you to a whole new level in my eyes and everyone that has ever known you. I know you have this beaten, stay strong!
    Love and best wishes,
    Jen

  13. Kristine Howanski Says:

    I was introduced to you by my new partner, Wendy Sare Meadows, and it has been a privilege to get a glimpse into your life. She has been on the breast cancer ride with me since mid-November of last year, but I am much older than you with better staging, so my road is a relative piece of cake, so to say I can relate on any but the most menial of ways is to do you a disservice. There is power in numbers, however, and power in prayer, so consider me joined with you as a prayer warrior. Be kind – that is second only to patience in the description of love, so I want to be kind to others, but also to myself. i am pretty harsh with myself. Be fit – Ironically, Wendy and I had already decided in the summer of 2010 that breast cancer would be our charity focus for 2011, just didn’t know it would be personal, and we are committed to do the DC walk this April 30-May 1, so my short-term fitness goal is running/walking the marathon on day 1 and running/walking the half marathon on day 2. Be fierce – that might be where the warrior comes in – that the fierceness of our scars, our tattoos, our new hair, all of it, remind us that we are battling, not surrendering, at least in that way. When I crashed on a bike a few years ago, I was told the resulting scars were badges of honor. So are these. Be happy – I have tried to adhere to an Ignatian philosophy that we are not to favor health over sickness, wealth over poverty, etc. so long as we are in conformity with God’s will and to take joy in that. it actually did not take long, because I could see so many things that were happening for good because I had this. I still say I would not wish this on someone, but I am happy and grateful that it has occurred because of all the doors that have opened and the amazing things I would never have seen or experienced without this. Be you – the good thing I have rediscovered is that I would not and did not really change how I live my day overly much, because I would do the same thing pretty much as I am doing even if I knew I only had a year or even a few months to live. Having said that, I have been more accepting of my limitations and more conscious and embracing of the fact that I am better off in God’s hand than my own. I am also mindful that I need to be open about this situation if I am to touch the people I am supposed to touch. You are a lovely person with much to share. Thanks for letting people get to know you.

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