Breaking from form a bit, we share an truly inspirational VOICES entry from 29-year-old breast cancer survivor, Jackie Roth... as shared word for word at our 2012 Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure Kick Off Party in February. On that magical evening after a captivating video of 'Rocky Jackie' taking her victory run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art , Jackie's speech had 300+ people united as they shed tears of compassion and empathy, fist-pumped with determination to finish the fight, and cheered endlessly for the triumphs won as well as those yet to come.
Hello everyone! Thank you to Elaine for the introduction...My name is Jackie, but as I was filming that video, bystanders lining the streets of the Italian market called me "little rocky" so I will respond to that name as well tonight! I also have to share that my sister's name is Adrienne, so I've heard a lot of "Yo Adrienne" in my life!
I would like to say thank you to everyone here at the Philadelphia affiliate of Susan G Komen for inviting me to share my story with you this evening at such a wonderful event to kick off the Race for the Cure season. I know that some of you might be surprised that I am standing up here because I am not the typical face of a breast cancer survivor. I found a lump myself at 27, was diagnosed at 28, and here I am today at 29. My story is also unique in that when I was diagnosed, I was a student doing breast cancer research. In the summer of 2010, I, the researcher, suddenly became the patient. I never thought I would be fighting breast cancer in two ways at once.
If you asked me two years ago, I would not have thought I would be calling myself a cancer survivor at 29. I thought I would be spending my late twenties wondering about where the newest restaurant is, or maybe discovering the most trendy night spot! I thought I would just be enjoying my life as a newlywed. At 29, I most certainly did not think that my first tattoos would be little green dots marking the spots for the radiation machine.
Every survivor remembers the day they were diagnosed, the day their life changed forever. When I was diagnosed, I cried for a day. That day was a Thursday. By the next morning, I along with my husband, father, step mother, mother in law, father in law and sister piled into my oncologists little itty bitty exam room - Needless to say it was a tight squeeze, but somehow we all managed. We came up with a plan that I ended up calling my cancer to do list.
Of course the essential treatments were on that list - chemo, surgery, radiation, surgery, surgery. Right now I am in the home stretch with just one small surgery left to go. But my cancer do list also had a different section, one that was entitled get involved. For me I knew that sharing my story would be healing, and I hoped in the process I could not only make other women aware of the disease, especially young women, but I hoped to show them that they are not alone. I sought out different breast cancer volunteer groups in the area, and that is when I wandered into a meeting of the Susan G Komen Philadelphia Affiliate. I was welcomed with open arms - given survivor paraphernalia and lots of hugs! After learning that Elaine Grobman and I are actually neighbors, I even got a ride home from her that night!
Since then, I have both personally and professionally taken advantage of so much that Susan G Komen has to offer. I've been to lunches, movies, and various events held by grantees of Susan G Komen. The best event for me was when Komen teamed up with one of my favorite places, the Philadelphia Premium Outlets! What's better than combining raising money with shopping! These programs and events that I took part in are made possible by the money that is raised and donated by so many of you.
But our job is not done yet. There are over 200,000 women and 2,000 men diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the US alone. That is why it is so important that we support Susan G. Komen. Just last year, the Philadelphia Affiliate distributed over 2 million dollars to 38 different organizations in our area. 2 million dollars! It is definitely a lot of money, however, there are still women in the Philadelphia area who need mammograms - but they do not have access to them. So get your boxing gloves ready because our fight is not done yet!
But today, I want to say thank you on behalf of the 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US. Thank you to our Philadelphia affiliate of Susan G Komen for giving us a place to go when we need it, a buddy to talk to, a shoulder to cry on... for funding so many important programs.
I was unable to attend the Race for the Cure last year as I was in the midst of my radiation treatments, but this year I can not wait to be surrounded by thousands of other survivors as we carry that survivor banner and show our strength, our determination, and that we, together, are going to win this fight! Thank you!
- Jackie Roth