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Documenting her treatment ups and downs through photos and blog posts gave Jacki Donaldson, a mom of two young boys in Gainesville, Florida, surprising strength and comfort. Here, a glimpse into her brave journey.
A New Reality
The older of my two sons, Joey (who was 3 at the time), took this photo just days after my diagnosis in November 2004. My intention was to capture my appearance before cancer took it away. I didn't plan to look so somber. Yet it's fitting. I was sad. The good news: I caught my cancer early, at stage 1, so it hadn't spread. I wouldn't lose my entire left breast—I needed only a lumpectomy to remove the pea-size tumor. The bad news: My growth contained too many HER2 proteins, meaning my cancer was aggressive (which is common in young women—I was 34). Doctors told me the post-surgery treatment would therefore be harsh. Indeed it was.