January 4, 2023
In only nine months, Jacqueline Reckers went from having a clear mammogram to having two cancerous tumors in her breast. By being in tune with her body and diligent about her breast health, she was able to obtain an early breast cancer diagnosis and swift intervention from her OHC care team.
Jacqueline, now 42 years old, struggled with recurring benign breast cysts since the age of 26. “It was difficult to identify anything suspicious during my breast self-exams as I always felt cysts,” said Jacqueline. She frequently had them drained by her doctor and began having annual screening mammograms around the age of 36. “My employer, Cintas, offered mobile mammogram visits every year so I took advantage of it,” said Jacqueline. “I would get a follow-up call after every mammogram recommending additional ultrasound imaging. The ultrasounds always revealed cysts.”
In 2019, Jacqueline had breast cysts that recurred shortly after being drained, and they were more painful than usual. Although she had a clear mammogram earlier that year, her doctor referred her to Nicole M. Melchior, DO, FACS, a breast surgical oncologist with OHC. Imaging showed a suspicious spot behind the cysts in one of Jacqueline’s breasts. On January 30, 2020, she had a needle biopsy of the area. Three days later, Jacqueline received the results: stage 1A invasive ductal carcinoma.
“When Dr. Melchior called me at work with the biopsy results, I knew it was bad news,” said Jacqueline. “But she had a calming voice, and I knew I would be comfortable with her treating me.”
The testing on her biopsy specimen was positive for HER2, which means that the HER2 protein was fueling the growth of her cancer”, said Dr. Melchior. Armed with this information, Dr. Melchior could select a treatment that would work best for Jacqueline’s specific type of breast cancer. Under the direction of OHC medical oncologist and hematologist Mark E. Johns, MD, Jacqueline was treated with chemotherapy prior to surgery to shrink the tumor and a targeted therapy to block the activity of the HER2 receptors. Dr. Melchior would then perform a bilateral mastectomy, or surgical removal of both breasts.
“OHC was a perfect fit for me,” said Jacqueline. “I never felt rushed or like I was asking stupid questions. I remember crying to Dr. Johns and Hannah Kolish (an OHC advanced practice provider) and they would sit with me until I stopped. I wasn’t just a number to them. I was an actual person.”
Next year, Jacqueline will have breast reconstruction surgery. She continues to see Dr. Melchior for follow-up visits and has regular appointments with Dr. Johns as she takes a hormone blocker to reduce her risk of cancer recurrence. “OHC’s treatment plan and knowledge have me living cancer-free now,” beamed Jacqueline. “That’s what saved my life.”
Jacqueline, a wife, mother of four, and grandmother of four, has become an advocate for women. “When something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out by a doctor,” she advises. “I’m comfortable sharing my story. I have friends and co-workers who scheduled their first mammogram after learning about my experience.”
Top picture: OHC breast cancer patient Jacqueline Reckers is a warrior. While she had a tremendous support network of family and friends, they could not be with her during her appointments, chemotherapy, or surgeries because of the COVID pandemic.Comments (0)