After Alice Jackson’s husband passed away unexpectedly when she was 49, she vowed to stay on top of her health—including prioritizing her annual mammogram.
“I knew I owed it to my kids to take the best care of myself that I could. I saw how devastated they were over losing a parent,” she said. “I had a family and a demanding career, and mammograms weren’t at the forefront of my priority list. I decided to schedule my annual mammogram for my birthday month so I would always remember it.”
Several years later, when she was 57, Alice went in for her annual mammogram. Though she had had a few false positives since she’d started getting screened at 49, she expected it to be more or less routine. But this time was very different.
Her care team immediately ordered an ultrasound on a suspicious spot, then they called her and told her to come in to speak with her doctor. Her then-partner, now-husband, Mike Jackson, former CEO and chairman of the board of BCRF corporate partner AutoNation, joined to support Alice.
“I was glad that Mike was with me, because he heard everything much clearer than I did,” she said. “We made a promise to each other that if there was a health crisis, neither one of us would go to an appointment without the other one.”
Alice was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also known as stage 0 breast cancer, a potential precursor to invasive breast cancer. DCIS was definitive in her right breast, and in the left, her doctors noticed patterns on her most recent and previous mammogram that indicated she might develop DCIS there too.
Her team recommended she get a bilateral mastectomy, and after getting three opinions, she underwent the procedure. The surgery was challenging, but she was grateful to have a good prognosis, strong support system, and great caregiver in Mike.
“I had never heard of a cancer that was a stage zero. I was perplexed,” she said. “I jumped into researching and understanding what it is, and I realized that if there had to be a best breast cancer to get, this was it—and early detection was everything. I knew I was going to survive, and I knew I had to get through this and be an advocate for others.
In her local community, Alice helped launch a mobile mammogram clinic to offer free breast cancer screenings to underserved women—part of her commitment to promoting early detection. Alice became involved with BCRF after learning about the Foundation from Kinga Lampert, co-chair of BCRF’s Board of Directors. Alice served on BCRF’s Advisory Board for several years, and under Mike’s leadership, AutoNation became a corporate partner through its Drive Pink program and as a sponsor of the annual Cure Bowl.
“I was amazed by BCRF’s energy, focus, and determination,” Alice said. “Serving on the Foundation’s Advisory Board was the thrill of my life. I support BCRF so no other woman has to go through this. We’ve come so far because of organizations like BCRF.”
Research, Alice said, is what allowed her to take control of her health. Her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same age Alice was diagnosed with DCIS, was successfully treated and lived to be 94 because of it. Research, too, has given Alice more time with Mike, their three children, and her grandson.
“People should know that because of research, breast cancer is not always a scary term or a death sentence,” she said. “Because of research there are cures. Because of research I am loving being a grandmother.”
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