Kim Hall Jackson - what a gem. She's our Ms. June and boy does she have a great story. Read on to learn not only about how she survived rectal cancer but how she continues to make a difference and continually give back - constantly grateful for every blessing in her life.
The BASICS about KIM HALL JACKSON
Name: Kim Hall Jackson
Diagnosis date: Stage III rectal cancer in December 2008 (originally diagnosed with Stage I, re-diagnosed after surgery.)
Age at Diagnosis: 45
ON SURVIVING CANCER:
Where were you when you found out you had colon cancer? I was at the doctor’s office. I left the room and was shocked. It was like an out-of-body experience.
What were your symptoms? My main symptom was blood discharge. My doctor is an advocate of African Americans getting a colonoscopy earlier than age 50. I had been totally healthy before I ever saw the blood discharge. As a self-proclaimed "poop checker," I'd never seen anything out of the ordinary until the blood.
What did your treatment involve? When I was first diagnosed in December 2008, they said my cancer was Stage I. Because we thought we caught it early, I was told I had time and that we could do surgery after the holidays - there was no rush. So, I followed that recommendation and had a bowel resection and temporary ileostomy. Two weeks after surgery I went to get my staples removed and was informed my cancer had been re-staged to Stage III rectal cancer. I began looking for an oncology and radiation team. I then started treatment after my ileostomy reversal.
What was the hardest part about treatment? The chemo infusion pump with radiation.
What got you through cancer treatment? Family, prayer, and friends. All of my friends did little things for me – made food, took me shopping when clothes were too small/large. My husband was awesome.
WHAT HAS SURVIVING RECTAL CANCER TAUGHT YOU…
About life? Everything is not as important as it used to be. The important things are even more important.
About family? My family is strong, supportive and brave.
About your body? Listen to your body. It’s your body; you should know it. You only get one so you should know everything about it. Don’t be nonchalant – don’t assume it will pass. Be an advocate for your healthcare and treatment.
Do you do anything now that you didn’t before, thanks to cancer? I tell people to get screened and to not think it can’t happen to you because you’re an African American, under age 50 or even because you work out or took dance. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t think cancer ran in my circle. While there may not be a direct family history (there may be some cancer here and there) it had to start somewhere. Don't assume it's not going to start with you.
What's your message to the African American community? Our risk is higher and we are normally diagnosed at a later stage. We have a higher death occurrence rate because we’re normally diagnosed.
Has cancer changed your life for the better in any ways? I don’t save my favorite things like shoes, outfits, and china – I may have been saving once but I use it now. I tell people that I love them more. Since being diagnosed, I've joined cancer support groups, done colon cancer walks and jumped on any opportunity to do an event and talk to people. I've also become part of the Buddy System to help others through it.
What do you hope your message and survival story will do for others? I hope they look at me and think, "Is that a black girl? Wow that can happen! She looks like an everyday person; it can happen to me. I’m going to get screened."
RANDOM INFO ABOUT KIM
Family: husband Jeffrey and six kiddos (Aja, Jenae, Khamaree, Keyanna, Erick, Niara)
Job? Convention services liaison
Collect anything? African American Art. Love really authentic, hand-done sculptures from all over the world.
Hobbies? African dance, shopping, movies. My husband is an African drummer and I'm an African dancer. We met on a blind date.
Know anyone famous? I used to be a publicist for Morgan Freeman. (among a few other artists.)
Where are you from? Philadelphia, PA
Like hotdogs? Nope - I'm a vegetarian. I love tofu.
Preferred toilet paper brand? Scott