Member Stories: Meet Jackie

July 1, 2023

Ms. July's story is lovingly sponsored by Kathy Keene

The theme of A Calendar to Live By 2023 is In Her Own Words. All 12 women who grace its pages have honest, inspiring stories written in their own words to share with readers -- as well as words of advice for other young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Read on to get to know more about Ms. July 2023.

Ms. July 2023 | Diagnosed at 30 (2021)

I started at age 15 to build an incredibly hard exterior around myself. I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t want to be seen as weak. I didn’t share my feelings because I didn’t know how to express them. At the age of 28, I tried desperately to break that shell, started the process for divorce, and moved in with my mom. Two months later, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in her spinal fluid and brain and given six months from the onset of symptoms which had been months before. That story could have its own book, but what I want to share is that from it I learned that I didn’t want a shell. I saw how my mom’s shell hurt her, and she hated it. My mom passed when I was 29.
I started to explore personal development. I wanted to help people and began to share all of my life’s story online. I thought I had dropped the shell but realized that helping others is not quite the same as accepting it for yourself. At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When your outer shell is hard, there is only so much you can fit.
I shattered. And while the hope is that no one ever has to know what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer or without hesitation say, “cut them [my boobs] off,” I hope that you can find the resulting peace. There are days that I try to pick up the pieces and hide, but each day I find someone taking them back. As treatments and emotions took over,
I began to allow people in to cook, to drive, to take care of my business, and to listen to me cry. I allowed myself to see that in life there are just going to be low-energy days –with cancer or without. I try to allow myself grace. At 31, I am a survivor, happy, and learning to love myself. Don’t wait for life to break your shell to find your peace and begin living!

ADVICE: Be Selfish. You probably weren’t giving yourself enough care before. Break the habit and take the time you need. 



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