Jamie – California

This year, we will begin featuring stories from our collection as our monthly Faces of Hope. These stories show the common experience shared by people facing cancer, but they also illustrate the highly personal nature of storytelling, reflecting the unique thoughts, feelings, and language of their authors. By sharing these stories here, we hope their words will be an additional source of strength for our scarf recipients, help friends and supporters better understand what it’s like to hear, “you have cancer,” and be a source of inspiration for all who read them.

If you would like to see your story featured as a Face of Hope, please submit it here.

Jamie – California

Jamie was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 27, and her story has been attached to 15 Hope Scarves. Thank you for sharing your story, strength, and hope with others, Jamie!

Tell us a little about your diagnosis and what brought you hope during your treatment.

My husband and I got to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time at a routine doctor’s appointment in February of 2007.  Everything checked out and looked great until my doctor asked whether I had any questions. “As a matter of fact, I do,” I replied. “What is this lump? Is it a milk gland, already?”

On Valentine’s Day, our worst fears were confirmed: I had triple-negative breast cancer. I was 14 weeks pregnant and 27 years old.  On that day, every goal and timeline I had carefully mapped out for our family and my career were thrown out the window.  Now my focus was only on the fight to make sure my baby would be born both healthy and happy; my own health and survival were secondary. One week after my diagnosis I began chemotherapy.  My oncologist prescribed a cocktail of medications that were known to be safe for the fetus because the drugs didn’t pass the placental barrier.  But that reassurance was difficult to grasp while sitting in an infusion chair for six hours.  Nonetheless, my baby that was growing inside of me, despite the hours and hours of chemotherapy he too endured, was a beacon of hope for me during treatment and beyond.

Our baby had nearly six months of chemotherapy with me before his early arrival on July 14, 2007.  Blake was born at a healthy 5 pounds, 9 ounces and will a full head of hair – more than I had, at the time, because of the drugs.  A week after his delivery, I returned to my aggressive chemotherapy schedule for another three months.  After that came the bilateral mastectomy, a series of six reconstructive and prophylactic surgeries.  Today, Blake is a healthy, vibrant seven-year-old and a constant reminder about what is truly important to me.

Please share any thoughts of words of encouragement for another woman going through treatment.

The power of hope truly kept me going during my two years of treatment and continues to push me forward years later. It can do the same for you. Hang onto loved ones and focus on getting better. Hope lives!!!

We asked Jamie to update her story- Here’s how she has turned heartbreak into hope:

Where I am today: My son, Blake, aka “chemo champ,” celebrated his half birthday today. Yep, he’s 12.5 years old. When I started this journey, on Valentine’s Day 13 years ago, I prayed for kindergarten. I asked God to let me see his first day of kindergarten. As the journey of parenthood goes, Blake is now taller than me, he thinks he is smarter than me (and he most definitely is on all matters technology), and he is closer in chronological age to being an adult than being a baby. My husband and I were talking about our (the collective “our” because he and my son have been there every step of the way with me) journey with cancer the other day. We were wondering “how the heck did we get here?” I was diagnosed with such an aggressive type of breast cancer, triple negative, that the odds were not in my favor. While I can’t begin to have an answer to this million dollar question, not a day goes by where my heart isn’t full of shear gratitude. Gratitude and hope. Much like the mission of Hope Scarves and the life being fully lived by its founder and my friend, Lara.
Working in the cancer community and surrounding myself with people from the cancer community, many whom I call my dearest of friends, and, all whom I call my ‘brother or sister,’ I see the reality of this disease. Despite it being 2020, we still have far too many people dying from cancer, far too many people living with intolerable side effects from treatment creating a substantially diminished quality of life, and too many people who are denied access to quality and timely care. I wake up every day with my brothers and sisters on my mind and a drive to find a cure for those living with metastatic cancer. And yet, I look at my own son, nearly a grown man, and I see the work of incredible organizations such as Hope Scarves, Triage Cancer, National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, and Bag It, and I am live each day with gratitude and hope that we will continue to improve treatments, the quality of life for long-term survivorship, and will find a cure.
My family and I are living in San Diego where I am a Professor of Criminal Justice. I continue to practice law and volunteer as a Cancer Rights attorney and advocate to improve access to care and survivorship outcomes.

With Hope and Gratitude,