In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, we’re sharing Jade’s story and reminding readers 40 and over to schedule their yearly mammogram or arrange other life-saving cancer screenings with their healthcare provider.
Jade Porter is a Senior Brand Manager with ePromos. Learn more about her journey to beat breast cancer and the support she received from her ePromos community along the way.
When Jade Porter was 38, her older sister received a breast cancer diagnosis. Wise to the power of preventative care, Jade immediately scheduled her own mammogram. When it came back clear, she shifted her focus entirely to supporting her sister through her illness. “I just assumed that it was going to be her journey,” Jade recalls, “and I wouldn’t get the same thing.”
A New Job and Her Own Diagnosis
Around the time of her sister’s diagnosis, Jade joined the ePromos community. Her 15 years of promotional product experience made her a valuable team member, but starting a new job meant new insurance. “I hadn’t gotten into the routine of getting a mammogram every year,” she explains. “I turned 40, and I started feeling really tired,” she shares. “That was my only symptom.”
Jade’s doctor immediately realized she was past due for her yearly mammogram. A scan revealed Stage II breast cancer on one side, with concern it had already begun to spread to the other.
Road to Recovery
Because Jade’s cancer had already started to spread, her treatment plan was aggressive and immediate. “I got diagnosed on a Tuesday and I started chemotherapy on a Thursday,” Jade says. After five months of chemotherapy and a few unexpected complications, she had only a four-week break before her double mastectomy. After that, she completed five weeks of radiation, which was then followed by four reconstructive surgeries. Jade describes the experience as “one year fighting the cancer, and then the next year was about fixing everything that broke in the process.”
It certainly hasn’t been easy. An allergy to one of her chemotherapy medications severely damaged Jade’s tear ducts, and despite two corrective surgeries, the issue has not been completely resolved. In addition, because Jade’s cancer is hormone-fed, she’s on a ten-year hormone treatment plan, which comes with its own side effects.
Still, Jade is bolstered by remaining cancer-free. “I’m four years clear this August,” she explains, “so that’s great.”
Support at Work and Home
Through it all, Jade notes she’s been fortunate to have consistent help and support from her family, friends, and work community.
At the time of her diagnosis, Jade was juggling a full parenting load in addition to her job. She and her husband each have one child from previous marriages and one son together. With a high schooler and a six-year-old in the house, their days were busy and full. But, Jade says, her husband was on it. “He was able to take quite a bit of time off and really step in to help.”
She also has a huge network of friends that swooped in to offer their assistance, including from a distance. “Some of them even flew in,” Jade recalls. “They stayed for a couple of days at a time and just helped with whatever I needed.”
Jade kept working through chemotherapy, which she credits in large part to help from a flexible and hands-on team. At the time of her diagnosis, Jade had only been with ePromos for about a year, but her work community stepped in seamlessly.
Her sales assistant at the time, Laura, jumped right in and took charge of anything Jade couldn’t handle herself. “She was interacting with my clients directly…at times she was really doing my job as well as her own,” Jade says. When Jade had to be out for longer stretches, ePromos sales colleagues John and Paula also stepped in to help. The situation called for a community effort, which left a lasting, meaningful impression on Jade.
A Valuable Lesson—and a Cautionary Tale
Jade says her biggest takeaway from the experience is that getting a mammogram every year is essential, “Don’t let it slide,” she cautions, “that’s really important.” She points out that if she had gotten her mammogram a year earlier, she may have caught the cancer in Stage I and had less of a treatment ordeal. “If you delay a diagnosis and it does progress, the survival rates start to decline.”
She also points to confusion some have about the BRCA gene, also known as the breast cancer gene. Many women may learn they don’t have the BRCA mutation and feel a false sense of security. But, according to The National Breast Cancer Foundation, less than 10% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have a BRCA mutation.
Jade has also found that her cancer experience has helped her to decide what’s important and essential in her life. “I tend to streamline a lot more,” she says. “I’m more thoughtful in what I choose to do.”
This article was written in an effort to spread awareness and inspire others to see that challenges can in fact be overcome. Looking for some more inspiration? Kelly tells us all about her visual impairment and her experience with her guide dog, Robin.