Brave woman, 67, defies the odds to beat THREE different types of cancer in 25 year battle
A BRAVE woman who lost her sister and her mum to cancer has overcome the disease for the third time.
Jackie Beattie has had bowel cancer, liver cancer and breast cancer.
The 67-year-old from Middlesbrough calls herself a “survivor” and is now telling her story for the first time.
Jackie’s ordeal began in 1996 when she started having some uncomfortable feelings in her stomach.
She was just 42-years-old at the time and said she had always had some issues with her tummy and “never really looked poorly”, but said she went to the doctors anyway just to be sure.
Speaking to The Sun Jackie said: “I was always very big and had some problems with my tummy.
“I’d had a few types of investigations but I ended up having to go to hospital, my husband Don was with me and we went in together.
“They said ‘you have lymphoma’ and I just sat there staring blankly and I said ‘what’s that’ and they said ‘it’s cancer’.”
BACK TO NORMAL
Luckily Jackie was able to donate her own stem cells and within 18 months she said she felt fine.
She added: “I went back to work at Barclaycard between chemo and they were great about it all, it wasn’t a strenuous job so I could manage”.
After going back to work Jackie said her life pretty much got back to normal.
“We holidayed, went on cruises with our family and friends, we just had a normal life”, she said.
Just as life was starting to stabilise Jackie’s Mum Lucy started to become unwell and had lost a lot of weight in 2011.
Jackie said: “Mum never really discussed when she felt unwell, she was in her early 80s and was still pretty active, she helped out at the local school and was always the life and soul of the party.
“She started to go off food and soon had a stoma fitted and we thought that would help.”
It was from that point that Jackie said her mum’s health started to go downhill rapidly.
The doctors diagnosed her mum with bowel cancer and Jackie and her sister Pattie were told she wouldn’t get better.
Jackie said: “You think your parents will be around forever. Mum was only small and we are just a small family.
“She was about 4ft 9inch but she just looked so tiny. She was so thin but the nurses finally talked her into going into hospital.”
Jackie said that both her and Pattie would take turns to stay with their mum in the hospital and that towards the end of her life her mum would tell her old stories and reminisce about her younger years.
“She would say some really funny things and it’s nice to look back on that time we had together and spend the time with her”, Jackie added.
Sadly Lucy died in December 2011.
But the family's anguish was set to continue and in April 2012, Pattie started to feel unwell.
Jackie said: “Pattie had been given redundancy at work and she was only 60-years-old so was really looking forward to finishing work and having time to herself.
“She had dizzy spells and lost her balance.”
Pattie was taken to hospital after she had a fall and it was there that doctors dug a bit deeper into her history of dizzy spells.
She had to stay in hospital.
Pattie was diagnosed with lung cancer which had spread to her brain.
Pattie was given chemotherapy and at the same time as she was receiving her treatment, Jackie was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.
WHAT IS LIVER CANCER?
The disease kills over 5,000 people in UK each year and the symptoms often go unnoticed so make sure you know the warning signs.
Liver cancer is the 14th most common cancer in males (2 per cent) and the 19th most common in females (1 per cent), writes Cancer Research UK.
And there are two broad categories of liver cancer, one is primary, which means the disease begins in the liver.
The other is secondary, which is when it's developed in another part of the body and spread.
There are two main types of primary cancer, one is called Hepatoma, also called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The other is Biliary tree cancer, which includes cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) and gallbladder cancer.
Treatment for the condition can include surgery, chemotherapy or even a liver transplant.
Signs and symptoms:
- Fatigue (tiredness) and weakness
- A general feeling of poor health
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting
- Unexpected loss of weight
Jackie said: “The whole time Pattie was having tests she just kept saying she was sorry.
“She had to go into a home towards the end.
“I was having my chemo at the time and the doctors unplugged me and I went to the nursing home downstairs in my pyjamas to see her in the hospital.
“And then she died the next day when I was in hospital getting treatment.
“That was such a hard time for me, two of the main stays in my family had gone all in the space of a year.”
After grieving both her sister and her mum Jackie tried to get back to some sort of normality.
But in November 2019, a routine mammogram threw her right back into the unknown.
Doctors found a lump and Jackie had a lumpectomy.
Jackie said: “At the time I felt marvellous, I had enjoyed the Christmas party at work and if anything I just felt a little bit tired”.
Jackie was given stem cell transplants from a donor in Germany.
She managed to have radiotherapy and completed the course of treatment just before the first lockdown started in March last year.
Jackie said: “My check-ups after the lumpectomy were done via telephone with the nurse and surgeon. Not ideal I know but at least I’d had my treatment and an all clear on the removed lump. I also had my nurses telephone number for contact at any time.
“I shielded for the first three months, as did my husband who has asthma and has had pneumonia.
“We managed with online shopping and family & really good friends who got us anything else we needed and continue to do so. Our medication continues to be delivered.”
LEAVING A LEGACY
Jackie said she feels incredibly lucky to be alive and that while she is glad she has had check ups over the phone, she says “not everyone has been able to, and some people have died”.
She said things have changed so much in the time that she has been alive and has hailed research into cancer and the work charities do to help those struck down by the horrendous illness.
That’s why, she says, she is leaving a legacy to Macmillan Cancer Support in her will.
Jackie is sharing her story to encourage others to leave a gift to Macmillan Cancer Support in her will as she has.
She also shares her story as part of Macmillan’s legacy campaign – to raise awareness of the importance of leaving donations in wills, which currently funds a third of Macmillan services.
She said: “I know I have come through it three times.
“Someone somewhere will benefit, people can be saved by what we leave behind."
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