Jackie Golson: Cervical Cancer
Irrepressible is probably the best word to describe Jackie Golson. Even cervical cancer and treatment complications couldn’t keep her down for long. “Each of us is born with a gift,” she says. “God gave me an unusual sense of humor.”
She was going to need it. A health-conscious single mother who worked in national advertising at the Houston Post, Jackie didn’t think she could be touched by cancer—until one of her twice-yearly pap smears came back abnormal. She had Stage I cervical cancer, which was treated with surgery and brachytherapy: the implantation of radioactive gold seeds at the tumor site. During surgery, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to her lower intestine.
It was after treatment that the trouble started. Jackie had a massive infection that required many trips to MD Anderson over the next several years and she underwent more than a half-dozen surgeries, including reconstruction to repair radiation damage.
Jackie’s unsinkable humor kept her going, and has made her somewhat of an MD Anderson legend. “I got into a lot of trouble,” she laughs. “Once I had a craving for McDonald’s French fries, so I wheeled my chemotherapy pole out of MD Anderson, gown and all, and went to a neighboring hospital. The nurses were waiting for me when I got back.” She would also leave to get her hair and nails done. “Hey, just because I had cancer didn’t mean I couldn’t look cute!”
The experience made Jackie realize what’s really important. “The material things we kill ourselves for just aren’t worth it,” she says. “I had it all and I was miserable—but I found myself through cancer.”