All things should be created equal - but NOT a cancer diagnosis

November 18, 2011



This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD. Jackie is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who was diagnosed with Stage III A breast cancer at the age of 28. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

Sometimes I can hardly believe that we live in a world where cancer is still affecting so many lives.  We can fly through the air, live under water, run our lives from our phones, and yet we have not come up for a cure, or better medicine to fight this disease.  There are an increasing number of cancer survivors over the years so we are making some progress, but there is still a long way to go.  

I know that finding a cure is significantly easier said than done.  I know this first hand; I am a cancer researcher.  The challenge that we face is that cancer cells are so different from normal cells, and we’ve only begun to understand how cancer cells work.  They acquire properties that allow them to continuously grow and divide out of control.  Although some cancers may have certain properties and markers in common, they are all very different from each other.  A treatment plan that works on one person’s cancer might not work for another person. 

Each time I hear about another person diagnosed with cancer I just feel awful thinking about the road ahead.  I know it is a tough one filled with many challenges.  But I feel  even worse when I hear that someone has a recurrence/metastasis.  They already went through treatment once, how much more is one person supposed to take? 

It seems like everywhere I turn I hear about a new or recurrent diagnosis and it is really starting to make me mad.  Just a few weeks ago, a famous TV personality, Guilana Rancic, announced that she too had breast cancer at age 36.  Yet another young woman diagnosed.  I do not wish this on anyone, but I am thankful that she has decided to share her story with the world and spread awareness.  Making others aware of cancer is critical to better health and early detection.  That’s one main reason that I write my blog, plan events, or just share my story. 

Us survivors know life is just not fair.  Growing up, however, I tried to make it fair.  This is especially true when it came to me and my sister.  It was my mission to make sure we had equal everything.  Well cancer is one thing that I hope we never have equally.  She will be 28 this weekend, the age at which I was diagnosed.  She’s already been checked and she is perfectly healthy. 

Jackie and her little sister.

I go to work every day hoping to become one step closer to understanding cancers.  Recently I switched fields from breast cancer research to brain cancer research.  I just felt like I had to take a step back. I was dealing with breast cancer professionally at work, then dealing with the reality of it every day when I left work.  It was too much.  I did not want to read any more papers about the disease.  But every day I am thankful for those who do read and research it, because that is the only way to move forward.  Although I professionally left the breast cancer research field, I still feel like I am making a contribution to helping others…it’s just in a different way. 

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