Jill Jarrell-Newsome will tell you she doesn’t like speaking in public. But you’d never guess that when she starts talking about the lifethreatening discovery that was made a year ago.
“I always schedule my annual mammogram,” said the Wilmington native to a group of people. “This one was scheduled for August 24, 2012. A few days later I got a call that I had to come back.”
That phone call began what Jarrell-Newsome now refers to as a “bump in the road with many blessings.” One of those blessings, she says, was the treatment she received at the nationally recognized New Hanover Regional Medical Center Zimmer Cancer Center and Cape Fear Cancer Specialists (CFCS), a NHRMC Physician Group practice.
“‘Very concerned,’– those were [Dr. Foiles’] words,” said Jarrell-Newsome, referring to local obstetrician-gynecologist Andrea Foiles, MD, who performed Jarrell-Newsome’s breast exam and called with the mammogram results.
Jarrell-Newsome, who says she puts her faith before all else, hoped and prayed for the best, even reassuring her mother that “it was nothing serious.” Biopsies of the suspicious breast tissue taken by local cancer surgeon Gregory Bebb, MD, proved different, however. Jarrell-Newsome’s condition was, in fact, very serious.
“When Dr. Bebb told me I had stage III breast cancer and that it had spread to my lymph nodes, I passed out right there in the office,” said Jarrell-Newsome. “I was numb.” Jarrell-Newsome’s treatment plan, put together by NHRMC’s team of cancer experts, led by CFCS medical oncologist Kenneth Kotz, MD, was comprehensive, including the most aggressive form of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy, total hysterectomy, appendectomy and radiation.
At Jarrell-Newsome’s request, surgical staff played Praise and Worship music during her six-hour mastectomy. “I wanted the influence of music and the influence of God in the surgical suite,” she said. “And the staff willingly accommodated.”
Jarrell-Newsome also experienced the inevitable for many cancer patients: “All my hair started falling out from the chemotherapy, so I had a haircut party,” she said, “… and there were times during treatment when I’d just ball up on the bathroom floor crying and praying.”
To be as comprehensive in her healing as possible, Jarrell-Newsome sought the care of a local licensed acupuncturist and registered nurse. “It was important to me to advocate for my health in all different forms,” she said. “And it was important for me to treat the soul as well as the body.” Achieving “physical and spiritual wholeness,” said Jarrell-Newsome, also came in the form of breast reconstruction, as performed at NHRMC Surgical Pavilion by Charles Kays, MD.
“It was important for me to see that what had been taken was put back,” she said. “I wanted to look in the mirror and know that I had beaten this disease.”
Today – a little more than a year after being diagnosed and with short, wavy brown hair – Jarrell-Newsome has finished treatment and is back doing what she loves: spending time with friends and family, and going to the beach. “I’m so grateful for the great care I received at NHRMC and from so many others,” said Jarrell-Newsome. “I’m here because of prayer and faith, and the faith I put in the team of medical professionals brought together by God to heal me. And I am healed.”