Here is Jacqueline’s serendipitous story and in her own words,
“I couldn’t quit smoking, because I never started.”
August 2, 2005, at 40 years of age, Jacqueline, single mother of three, was involved in a head-on automobile accident resulting in an ambulance ride to a local Atlanta hospital. This accident saved her life. Jacqueline underwent a variety of scans and x-rays to determine the extent of her injuries. After a few hours had passed the ER physician relayed a message of “good news and bad news” to Jacqueline and her family. The “good news” was announced that no injuries were found as a result of her auto accident. The “bad news” indicated that “something the size of an orange” was sitting in her lower right lung. The next day Jacqueline had a biopsy and was told that this otherwise healthy, active, never smoker with never-smoking parents had Lung Cancer. More specifically, the type of cancer was adenocarcinoma, which is the fastest growing type of cancer cell. Time was of the essence. The tumor had to be removed immediately. Family and friends in the medical world were consulted and mobilized with an action plan for immediate treatment.
August 17, 2005, Jacqueline underwent a 14-hour long surgery to (1) determine the stage of cancer and (2) confirm that the cancer had not spread allowing the surgeon to proceed with the removal of the middle and lower lobe of her right lung. With family and friends waiting, Jacqueline’s life was saved by having 75% of her right lung removed including the cancerous tumor. The tumor was classified as Stage 1B (b for the size). At eight weeks post-up, Jacqueline began a weekly regimen of chemotherapy treatment lasting for 12 weeks. It is important to note that had it not been for the auto accident the rapidly spreading cancer cells would have eventually been discovered at a late stage with an approximate 6-month life expectancy.
Jacqueline remains cancer-free as a result of many prayers and gifted physicians. As a survivor and third-term locally elected official she has been and remains involved in collaborative efforts to introduce new legislation in her state focusing on patient advocacy, funding, research and early detection for lung cancer-related issues affecting smokers, former smokers and never smokers.