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Jackie’s Story of Triumph Over Cancer

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Jackie's first day of chemo
Jackie's first day of chemo

Jackie’s Story of Triumph Over Cancer

National Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated each year on the first Sunday of June. This year, Jackie Reynolds, a breast cancer survivor, recounts her journey and shares her gratitude for the incredible care she received at AdventHealth Porter.

Jackie’s Story
The moment I felt the large lump in my left breast was the start of an excruciating blind rollercoaster of fear I couldn’t escape. The fear of the unknown was the worst part — not knowing from second to second what was going to happen next. It wasn’t like the "normal" unknown fears of life. The next moment wasn’t just another life event or obstacle; it could have been my last.

Jackie’s Receives Care at AdventHealth Porter

From the instant I was diagnosed at age 34, the compassionate care and swift actions of the hospital staff at AdventHealth Porter made a significant difference, which set the domino effect in motion for my journey back to health. Dr. Chen was instrumental in my care, offering insights and support that were invaluable. She told me what was going on and that I had breast cancer. Her clear and compassionate communication allowed me to start the process of acceptance and begin addressing the problem at hand. She recommended Dr. Morgan, which led me to be blessed with my key doctors.

Jackie's port scar
Jackies port scar

I was then connected with the best nurse navigators, Angela and Jared, who were there every step of the way. They guided me through the complex medical processes, ensuring I was able to attend crucial appointments and provided constant support and encouragement.

Dr. Chen connected me to her friend, Dr. Morgan, who became my breast surgeon. She is a brilliant surgeon and has a heart of gold. Dr. Morgan referred me to Dr. Xi, my incredible oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. This phenomenal doctor made lifesaving decisions, recommending aggressive chemotherapy for my type of breast cancer. The treatment had torturous effects, including the psychological struggle of losing my hair. Dr. Xi delivered her recommendations clearly and confidently, explaining that while the treatment was necessary, it was ultimately my choice to proceed. Her straightforward approach and proactive treatment plan, along with detailed follow-through, showcased her exceptional expertise. She will closely monitor my post-breast cancer journey for years to come, and I am confident in her future decisions. I put my life in her hands and know she will provide the best care possible.

Before my chemotherapy treatment, Dr. Kooy was another standout doctor. His skillful port placement and removal procedures were exceptional, healing faster than some IV spots I’ve had. His kindness and compassion, coupled with his evident surgical talent, provided comfort during a challenging time. When it came time for port removal seven months later, I wanted Dr. Kooy to perform the procedure.

Dr. Morgan recommended me to my plastic surgeon, Dr. Nguyen, whose expertise, confidence, and compassion gave me hope. Together with her medical assistant, Laura, they worked diligently with my insurance company to secure coverage for my plastic surgery, ensuring I had the best possible outcome. I cannot emphasize enough how crucial waking up with implants was for my mental and emotional well-being post-mastectomy. Without the direct-to-implant procedure performed by such a skilled plastic surgeon, I know I wouldn’t have recovered mentally as well, or perhaps even at all.

The care I received at AdventHealth Porter was extraordinary. Their medical team and hospital create a lasting impact and positive experiences.

The reason I mention all these other doctors and the medical teams during my treatment is because they played a significant role in me becoming a cancer survivor. I received treatment at multiple facilities, each with dedicated medical teams, for whom I and my loved ones are incredibly grateful. Without this comprehensive medical treatment, I am confident I wouldn’t be alive today.

Jackie with and without wig during chemo
Jackie with and without wig during chemo

Living Breast Cancer-Free

My doctors acted swiftly to provide treatment that ultimately saved my life. My treatments spanned 10 months, including a mammogram, biopsy, meeting my medical team, chemotherapy, two surgeries in one (double mastectomy and direct-to-implant) and radiation. Since my breast cancer tumor was hormone-positive, post-cancer treatment will continue for roughly another four years.

I share my story of triumphing over cancer by using powerful tools that can be applied to many of life’s challenges: the power of the mind, gratitude, love, positivity and focus. These tools helped me navigate life's hardships. I am a proud advocate for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). Being part of a team of young advocates has provided support and inspiration as I witness how they help other breast cancer patients, movements and organizations. LBBC assists women throughout the U.S. by educating, supporting and inspiring those with breast cancer and their families.

During chemotherapy, I came to understand the concept of surrender. Implementing this skill became vital. I realized one day on my couch that surrender wasn’t about giving up, but about accepting the things I could not change and changing the things I can — surrendering to the process of treatments.

Before my cancer experience, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19. This diagnosis was extremely hard to tame but this challenge made me stronger. I knew that if I could manage my mind, I could certainly get my body healthy again.

I need to emphasize all the support I had while going through my cancer experience. When I felt like I was falling after my diagnosis, my family, my man and my friends caught me and held on tight. My support team are my constant cheerleaders. I'm incredibly fortunate to have such a supportive network.

Day before first radiation
Day before first radiation

Looking Toward the Future
Professionally, I specialize in surface pattern designs for products sold by some of the largest companies in the United States. Drawing from my own experience, I've discovered ways to enhance existing breast cancer products and prints. My ultimate goal is to join a company or an organization dedicated to creating graphics for breast cancer. I'd like to use my skills to design products that can support philanthropic causes.

Even though I felt terrible at times, I believe it was meant to happen to me to show people, or even the world, that one can overcome hardships. My journey to becoming a cancer survivor allows me to inspire and help others. I aspire to become an inspirational speaker within the breast cancer community by sharing my story, empowering others and teaching my core principles that guide my life.

I discovered the power of prayer. I truly believe that collective prayer played a significant role in saving me. My journey back to health had great challenges, but I was supported and blessed with amazing people, and I triumphed over aggressive breast cancer.

Compassionate Cancer Care at AdventHealth

A cancer diagnosis can feel understandably overwhelming, but our highly skilled cancer care teams can help you triumph over cancer and get back to the life you love. We’ll support you with world-class treatments and compassionate, whole-person care through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

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