Breast cancer helped me realize that I’m a Firework

This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Every other Friday, 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.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

Rarely do you ever catch me walking the streets of Philadelphia without my headphones on.  Usually, I limit my music selection to male rock, alternative or punk bands — AKA, music with a dark side and angry lyrics.  I have quickly realized that this might not be the most uplifting and motivating music selection for me right now!  So for the past few weeks or so, Katy Perry’s song Firework has been my anthem. You should definitely listen to it if you feel down or just need a little boost of strength! I listen to it about a dozen times a day or so.  The message of the song is very inspiring and encourages you to believe in yourself. 

The lyrics to my favorite part of the song are:

“Do you know there’s still a chance for you / ‘Cause there’s a spark in you / You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine / Just own the night like the fourth of July / Cause baby you’re a firework / Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth…”

Ironically, I am not the only one who thought this song was connected to my current breast cancer situation.  I watched the video just the other day and sure enough, the actress in the video is a young girl who has cancer – just like me.  She is shy and timid at first, staying in her hospital room watching TV.  But by the end of the video, she becomes the firework. She escapes the hospital and joins everyone else out on the street. 

I was definitely shy and scared at the beginning of my chemo. I always wore my wig and sort of hid, trying desperately to just “blend in.”  But that is not how I felt as I went in this week for my LAST ROUND!  Six months of chemo brought out a different side of me.  I became more confident, lost the wigs and just rocked the scarves. Sometimes at my desk, I even went bald! I just went though my last round of chemo and that represented my one last shot to become a firework and recover from this cancer if it takes everything I’ve got.

The next step is surgery and that is just a different type of journey all together. After surgery, you know you will heal and each day will generally be better than the last.  But with chemo it is another story.  Once you start to feel like yourself again, you are hit with the next round and a new journey starts all over again.  But I made it through!  Side effects and all — I am done.  It really feels strange saying that. 

It will definitely be a change to not spend 7 hours a week in the chemo chair.  For just a brief period, as I sat in my chair for my last time I felt sort of sad.  I was clearly not sad about not getting chemo anymore. I was sad because I was going to miss the people who I was surrounded by.  Kathy S, my oncology nurse, is only one year younger than me.  She is a wonderful person and I am so lucky to have gained a friend and a shopping buddy!  My chemo buddies, my best friends and family really helped me through.  I loved spending time with everyone even though I slept through most of it! The reality is they were all my motivation to win, and ignite the spark in me.  1/3 of my journey with breast cancer is over… 

20th anniversary, lbbc, blog series

Jackie rocks a scarf at her last chemo session. She shares a picture with her Oncology Nurse, Kathy S, who is now her shopping buddy!

Be sure to read Jackie’s previous entries, by entering “Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.  

How have you ignited the spark in your journey? Tell us about quality-of-life activities that you participate in or how you, like Jackie, realize that through breast cancer you can meet wonderful people who all have an individual responsibility to lead you to healing. Comment here or on our Facebook page.

7 thoughts on “Breast cancer helped me realize that I’m a Firework

  1. Jackie

    OMG!!! This is crazy; last night I woke up at 3:00AM and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I went downstairs to watch some TV and the channel was set to MTV. (my kids must’ve been watching Jersey Shore). The Katy Perry song and video Firewroks was on and it was the first time I ever heard it. It moved me to tears; I thought to myself this will be my new ringtone. You are so right; the lyrics are uplifting and motivational; perfect for us fighters, survivors and conquerors.

    Keep rocking girl! Be well! Stay stong & focused!
    Love, Lisa Marsella

  2. You are indeed a ‘firecracker’. We are very blessed to have you as our Daughter-In-Law. For all of those who read and share in Jackie’s story, she truly fought through her chemo with bravery and high spirits. We will continue to love and support her through the rest of her journey. She has the love of her husband, Ron, her family, co-workers, friends, and people she has yet to meet.
    Love you Jackie …. xoxoxox

  3. This brought tears to my eyes because I am so proud of you! I wish I could take you around to introduce you to ALL my patients🙂 You inspire so many people (me included:) I too was a little sad your last day of chemo, but also sooo happy that you are one step closer to kicking breast cancer butt! Much love, Kathy

  4. Jack – YOU DID IT! Love the blog entry. Katie Perry has been added to my playlist. Keep up the positive energy and good things will come. LOVE YA!

  5. So happy Jackie for you to have completed your final chemo-that’s huge!
    You are amazing, and have handled your journey (curve balls and all) with such grace and dignity-who knew so much strength could come in such a small package!! I came to know you as Michael and Kristen’s friend, and I am so glad and proud that you are now my friend. With love, Dale

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