A Murfreesboro mother shares tips for surviving colon cancer

At 39, Jamie Jackson was the picture of health. The mother of three exercised, ate right and stayed active with family and church.

But inside, she was far from healthy.

Her first colonoscopy showed a 2 1/2-centimeter cancerous tumor, silently growing inside her large intestine. The news was a shock.

“If I can get colon cancer, anyone can get colon cancer,” said Jackson, who has since recovered. “I feel like I need to be the poster child for this diagnosis because I was so young.”

March: Colon Cancer Awareness Month

An estimated 50,000 Americans died from colorectal cancer in 2021, said Dr. Sree Suryadevara of The Colorectal Center in Nashville. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, a reminder that early detection is key.

“This is a potentially preventable disease through effective screening,” Suryadevara said. “Screening through colonoscopy can identify and remove precancerous polyps before developing into cancer.”

Doctors now recommend a baseline screening by age 45.

Jamie Jackson talks about not being afraid to talk about colon cancer if it helps to save the lives of others as she sits on her couch on Monday, March 21, 2022. Jackson said "if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone."

In 2017, though, Jackson was a decade younger than the previously recommended age. That early summer, she noticed an increasing occurrence of rectal bleeding in her stool. One day in August, she was alarmed by a “measurable amount.”

“I was turning 40 in September (2017),” Jackson said. “I know women my age can have some bleeding and I didn’t have any risk factors. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I exercise faithfully. I eat well. I have no family history.”

Jamie Jackson, right, talks about what she went through while dealing with colon cancer as her daughter Emma Jackson, left, listens, on Monday, March 21, 2022,

Unexpected journey

Her husband, Chad Jackson, a local urologist, queried fellow physicians, and the couple decided she should get checked.

“I was trying to keep things looking normal because I have three kids,” recalled Jackson, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

Jackson received 27 daily radiation treatments and five weeks of oral chemotherapy.

By the beginning of 2018, she underwent six-hour surgery at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown in Nashville. Suryadevara removed the cancerous area and resectioned her bowel. A temporary ileostomy bag diverted any waste into a pouch on her abdomen, allowing the interior incision to heal.

Worry was something Jamie Jackson battled for a while. “Sometimes I was stuck in the darkness,” she said.

After battling colon cancer Jamie Jackson added positive messages on her shoestrings to show her positive attitude in life.  Jamie Jackson shows off her shoestring messages while standing on her welcome mat at her home on Monday, March 21, 2022.

Silver linings light the way

The prescription for worry was seeking silver linings.

“If I was having a bad day, somebody would show up with muffins, or there would be a card in the mail,” said Jackson, who spoke at the annual Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation Gala two weeks after her surgery. The organization is a fundraising arm for the not-for-profit hospital.

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