By her own admission, Carrie McIntyre Jacobs likes to work a room.
“And when I finish with the folks inside, I like to move to the folks outside,” she says, standing next to her big black Mercedes sedan on the edge of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center campus.
At six feet tall with hazel-brown eyes and impeccably dressed – “the brighter, the better,” she says – Jacobs, 55, oozes strength, faith and confidence, all characteristics that - along with expert help from NHRMC’s Zimmer Cancer Center – have no doubt played a part in her breast cancer recovery.
“It all started in 2003 when a mammogram revealed a suspicious mass in my right breast,” said the native Wilmingtonian, who spent most of her adult life in New York City before returning to the Port City to retire.
While the right breast mass was successfully removed, the biopsy brought grim news: “It was early in the morning … I’ll never forget it,” said Jacobs. “The phone rang, and my doctor said they’d found cancer. All I could say was, ‘Oh, God, Oh, God.’”
Jacobs’ newly diagnosed breast cancer put her on a direct path to NHRMC’s Zimmer Cancer Center and the expert help of breast cancer surgeon Cyrus Kotwall, MD, Medical Director of NHRMC’s oncology program.
“I was immediately impressed with Dr. Kotwall and the whole Zimmer staff. They made me feel right at home,” said Jacobs. “At that very moment I knew I was in good hands, and that I would be alright.”
Jacobs endured several months of combined radiation and chemotherapy treatment, during which time she lost all her hair, was subject to a special diet and experienced prolonged fatigue.
Today, Jacobs’ prognosis is good, and she continues to heal. And part of that healing involves telling and re-telling her story at the national level, as one of only a handful of women from across the country selected to meet directly with some of the world’s foremost cancer researchers.
“Breaking the barriers of silence about breast cancer is where the healing begins, both personally and collectively,” said Jacobs, who has attended the annual Washington conference four of the past five years.
“We need messengers to take the message of breast cancer to the people who can most help us,” said Jacobs, “for when one breast cancer victim speaks, we all speak.”