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Jackie Bush: Fighting the Disease, Not the Diagnosis

“I think my biggest suggestion to a lot of people has been to fight the disease with everything you've got in you, but don't fight the diagnosis."

Jackie Bush
Breast Cancer

Jackie Bush’s now 16-year fight against breast cancer has taught her a lot, but her most important piece of advice to patients coping with a prolonged illness is simple – learn to fight the disease, not the diagnosis. To do this, Jackie ultimately embraced the challenges of her cancer diagnosis – relying on the support of her care team and pursuing opportunities to support other patients facing cancer, too.

Commitment to Care

Jackie was first diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2003. She initially underwent surgery and chemotherapy. The treatments were successful, and Jackie was prescribed maintenance therapy for almost nine years while in remission.

But in 2013, her cancer came back – and this time it spread throughout her body. The cancer was in her retina, and additional PET scans revealed tumors on her spine, ribs, and pelvic bone. Jackie’s second diagnosis was stage IV metastatic breast cancer. To put all her energy into undergoing treatment, she resigned from her position as a Case Manager – tackling one tumor at a time, with the help of her care team.

Under the care of Jagathi Devi Challagalla, M.D., medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Wichita Falls Cancer Center, Jackie began another treatment regimen. She underwent chemotherapy for four and a half years, which shrank almost all of her tumors. In January 2019, however, a follow-up scan showed additional cancer in her liver. Since then, Jackie has been undergoing consistent chemotherapy. Her latest scan in July 2019 showed only one tumor left.

“Managing a long-term cancer diagnosis takes both physical and mental strength,” Dr. Challagalla said. “Jackie’s mindset, positivity, and motivation to help others demonstrates just how hard she continues to fight against her disease.”

Embracing the Good

“A lot of people want to fight the diagnosis – they don’t want to accept that they’ve been diagnosed with cancer,” Jackie said. “I think my biggest suggestion to a lot of people has been to fight the disease with everything you’ve got in you, but don’t fight the diagnosis.”

Jackie’s experience and personal perspective has driven her to become involved in cancer patient advocacy to help others and further the fight against cancer. Her current role involves talking with other cancer patients; volunteering with the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; and advocating for healthcare policy that impacts cancer patients.

“I’ve had the honor to talk to a lot of new cancer patients and survivors and help guide them through things that I’ve faced. I count that opportunity as a privilege and an honor,” Jackie said.

Jackie’s life isn’t just about managing her cancer, but about finding and focusing on all the good that has come from her journey – and helping others find it too.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.