Jackie McBride, Living Life To The Fullest

After surviving a year-long battle with invasive ductal carcinoma, Jackie McBride plans on living life to the fullest.

Photo courtesy of Jackie McBride.

By Justin K. Thomas

Jan. 18, 2018

According to the American Cancer Society, finding out you have cancer can present many changes for you and your loved ones. Feelings such as shock, anger and disbelief are normal and often time happens.

This was the case for U.S. Navy veteran Jackie McBride, a survivor of stage II invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer diagnosed.

“It was a very heavy blow when I received the phone call from my doctor’s office stating that they wanted to speak to me in person,” McBride said. “You literally assume you’re going to immediately die. And in your mind, you’re writing your [Last] Will and Testament thinking that, ‘I want this item to go to this person. I want this item to go to that person’ and so on.”

After she received the initial notification in Dec. 2016, she had a feeling that things would eventually work out for the best because the tumor was found quickly, had not grown significantly and doctors told her that her survival rate was high, McBride said.

The survivability factor for a certain type of cancer is often given in five-year increments, however many people live much longer, according to the American Cancer Society.

The five-year survival rate for women with stage I cancer is about 100 percent. A woman with stage II, like McBride, has a survival rate of about 93 percent with a good prognosis. For stage III, that number is 72 percent.

After her diagnosis, McBride learned that the type of cancer she had was HER2+, so her body would not accept immunotherapy or hormonal therapy as a viable treatment. McBride’s doctors scheduled her for a lumpectomy in addition to radiation and chemotherapy, she said.

In addition to the shock, McBride said that she wanted to start her therapies immediately, even though she had an idea about their daunting physiological effects.

“Unbelievably, I wanted to start chemo right away because you must have it to live,” McBride said. “But then, after all the denial and apprehension diminishes, you realize that the side-effects of chemotherapy aren’t that great, and you rethink your plan.”

There are short and long-term effects of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy, including fatigue, pain and sleep disorders, according to Susan G. Komen, a breast cancer research and advocacy organization.

McBride said that experienced similar side effects. "At first, I slept a lot," she said. "But after my first and second round of therapy, sleeping became harder and harder to do. The therapy affects your appetite and weight. There were a few times when I couldn't even walk from one room of my house to another one without taking shorts. breaks."

Jackie McBride during a round of chemotherapy in mid-2017.

Photo courtesy of Jackie McBride.

After about ten months, doctors informed McBride that the therapies yielded positive results and that they were ready to perform a lumpectomy, she said. However, her physicians found that the medication Perjeta that was used in her therapies had killed the entire tumor.

“The medication I was placed on was a life-saver,” she said. “Because there are so many types of breast cancer and it can spread so quickly, doctors find it difficult to prescribe the right ‘catch-all,’ and that’s why this medication is so great. Before, with the type of cancer I had, it was almost a death sentence. The doctors were quite pleased with the results.”

McBride said that she too was pleased with results and has since started to move on. She’s thankful to her family and friends being by her side, the Navy for supporting her and no matter what, she’s going to live her life to the fullest, she said.

"As I look back, I have so much to be grateful for,” she said. “More than a year ago I was told that I had cancer. Without my family and the support of the military, I could not be where I am today. While going through the ups and downs of having an illness, I learned a lot about who I am as a person and the human spirit. Now, I am stronger than I ever thought possible. And since you only get to live one life, make sure that you tell those you love and care about, 'I love you'"

McBride currently resides in the Rocky Mountains region of the United States. She plans on separating from the Navy in 2018 and becoming an electrician.