BHA Survivor Story: Thelma Jones
In 2006, Thelma Jones was retiring from over 33 years of service at the World Bank when she did a self-breast exam and felt a lump in her breast. She ignored the lump until 2007 where she felt the lump, larger this time, and decided it could not be put off any longer. She finally went to see her physician who referred her to an oncologist. In June of 2007, the oncologist performed a biopsy where he confirmed that Thelma had Stage 3 breast cancer, but it was rare because they could not locate the point of origin in the midst of many large tumors.
She sought out many doctors and finally found one that determined an adequate course of treatment. Instead of having surgery right away, Thelma underwent chemotherapy from July to October of 2007 to shrink the tumors before doctors performed a lumpectomy in November. They removed 34 lymph nodes, 15 of which were cancerous. Due to the amount of lymph nodes removed, she developed lymphedema where fluid builds up in her limbs and required her to see a physical therapist weekly to massage the fluid out.
Following the surgery, Thelma endured seven weeks of daily radiation. During that time, her doctor asked her to talk to other breast cancer patients who were skeptical of getting chemotherapy and radiation. During this time, Thelma became an American Cancer Society volunteer. She received formal training so she could properly inform women, be an advocate as well as a support for other women diagnosed with breast cancer. She received training from Lillie Schockney, Administrative Director at Johns Hopkins, a two time breast cancer survivor, and co-founder of a national non-profit organization “Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer.”
Thelma developed the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Support Group in 2009 and is also an active community navigator of the Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts. She now holds a support group funded by a grant from the Susan G. Komen foundation at Union Temple Baptist Church in the Southeast area of Washington, DC.