Kim Hall Jackson is a seven year survivor of rectal cancer. She was first diagnosed in December 2008, as Stage I. She had a bowel resection and temporary ileostomy. Two weeks after surgery she went to get her staples removed and was informed her cancer had been re-staged to Stage III rectal cancer. She began looking for an oncology and radiation team. She then started treatment after her ileostomy reversal.
From her Colon Club interview:
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.”
Listen to Kim talk about the “Black and Blues Brunch,” the event she created to help raise awareness about the importance of colon cancer screenings in the African American community: Click Here