Article via VIP Murfreesboro
By Sadie Fowler
Imagine being a 39-year-old woman who exercises daily, eats well,doesn’t drink or smoke and whose family history is free of any major health issues. That pretty much sums up Jamie Jackson, and the fantastically healthy lifestyle the mother of three had been living.
For all those reasons and more, Jamie was completely shocked when she heard the news terrible news a couple years ago — the mass doctors had discovered in her colon was indeed cancerous.
And so the journey began.
Chemotherapy, radiation, a lower anterior resection of the colon,more chemotherapy and more surgery marked what Jamie described as being a very difficult 15 months, to say the least. Despite this, Jamie’s grateful spirit found many silver linings along the way, with one of those being the staff at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic.
Jamie Jackson is married to her high school sweetheart, Chad.Together, they have three daughters, Emma, Madelyn and Lily. Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, the Jacksons moved to Murfreesboro in 2006 where Jamie worked as an occupational therapist before putting her professional career on hold in exchange for being a full-time mom.
“We love Disney World, surprising our kids, being with family,both traveling and at home,” said Jamie, describing her perfectly “normal life”prior to the diagnosis. “I like to exercise, cook — especially Cajun food, bake and sew. I have been sewing since I was about four while sitting in my mom’slap.”
Life was definitely very normal for the Jackson family, although Jamie admits she had discovered some bright red blood upon using the restroom for a few months leading up to her diagnosis. Still, she didn’t think much of it.
“I thought nothing more than it being a hemorrhoid,” she said. “I was 39 at the time. What female my age who has had children would think anything else?”
However, things got worse after the family returned from an amazing vacation in Montana, where they zip-lined, hiked and enjoyed time together exploring the outdoors.
“While there, I passed a measurable amount of blood one Saturday evening,” she said. “I panicked and called my husband into the bathroom. He called two of our friends who are physicians in the community, and together they reassured me that women my age can experience this, but it was nothing that we should put off trying to find the cause.”
Soon enough, Jamie found help at MMC via Dr. Robert Knox, who scheduled her for a colonoscopy a week-and-a-half later. She had the procedure done at MMC’s Surgery Center where she was greeted by kind nurses and a skillful anesthesia team.
“Upon waking up from the procedure, I learned that a 2 cm ‘mass’had been found in the middle third of my rectum,” she said. “It was the source of all the bleeding that I had been experiencing.”
It was the following day that Jamie learned from Dr. Knox that the mass was cancerous.
“This was a complete blindside to someone who exercises almost every day, watches everything she eats, does not drink or smoke, has no family history or any other risk factors,” she said.
Jamie later learned that she had no predisposition for the disease.
“Dr. Knox and his staff showed great compassion and empathy during this difficult time in my life,” she said, explaining the extensive treatment that followed over the course of the next 15 months.
In addition to chemotherapy and radiation, Jamie endured a lower anterior resection of the colon with an ileostomy (a loop of intestine to the surface of the skin to eliminate waste), and then another surgery to take down the ileostomy.
When the final surgery was over, Jamie was on the road to recovery and it didn’t take long for her to bounce back to her old self. Now, she feels great.
“My abs may never be as strong as they were before, but that’s OK!” she said. “I just had my first colonoscopy follow up with Dr. Knox and had a completely normal colon.”
Jamie said the gastro office at MMC was easy to work with when scheduling this procedure and Dr. Knox was, again, kind and compassionate.
“As you can imagine, my husband and I had quite a bit of anxiety leading into this procedure and appreciated the kind nursing staff, anesthesia team and Dr. Knox.”
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women when you exclude skin cancer. Colorectal cancer cases are on the rise among 30 and 40-year olds, which led the ACS to lowering the recommended age for a woman’s first colonoscopy screening from 50 to 45 years old.
“It is imperative to not only know the signs and symptoms, but also to not delay this potentially life-saving screening,” Jamie said. “I know everyone has heard ‘all the things’ related to the prep and procedure, but I urge anyone to please not let this deter you from scheduling your colonoscopy.”
Again, Jamie emphasizes she had no risk factors.
“This disease does not discriminate!” she said. “Call and schedule it today. I meet people often who tell me that they have put it off or are ‘two years overdue.’ I encourage these people to please call ASAP!”
Summing it all up, Jamie admits it was an extremely trying 15 months, which she fought every bit of the way. But she found many positive things along the journey.
“There were silver linings every day, because I chose to look for them,” she said. “I had an amazing support team of family and friends, and an army of prayer warriors. I know that it is possible to place all of your trust in God for His plan for your life.”