Veteran's breast cancer experience drives mission of educating, fighting racial inequity

When Caroline Jones got breast cancer four years ago, she went into game plan mode.

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Thursday, October 13, 2022
Breast cancer experience drives mission of fighting racial inequity
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From diagnosis to today, Caroline Jones uses her breast cancer story to get others to mammograms and advocate for better racial representation in patient literature

This Sunday, hundreds of women, men, and children will lace up their sneakers in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

The walk at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey will include many survivors, who are living testimony to the progress that's being made.

Caroline Jones, 47, of Hatfield, Pa., will be a speaker at the walk.

"Right here is me," says Caroline, as she shows photos from her service in the U.S. Navy.

Jones knew to focus on her mission as a Navy chef, feeding hundreds every day.

So when Caroline got breast cancer four years ago, she went into game plan mode.

"Crying is not going to change the diagnosis. Being depressed, it's not gonna change the diagnosis," she remembers thinking.

She told family and friends of the diagnosis in a mass text, but said, "I'm not going to worry about the unknown. When I have more information, I'll let you know. But right now I'm getting ready to go to a holiday party."

Caroline says she didn't want pity or to be written off as dead.

Recalling the strength and skills her mother used in raising 10 children, she told everyone around her they'd cry together later.

Then she put them into action as she headed into surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

"So they knew which day was their day to help me out. I had family and friends do meal preps for me, and then they would drop it off," she says.

Caroline's support is still very close - they now enjoy painting and traveling together.

After treatment, Caroline celebrated with a big party and went on a new mission - helping more people by sharing what she's learned.

She debunks myths, such as the mistaken belief that x-rays from mammograms can cause cancer.

"Go! Go get your mammogram," she says emphatically.

Don't put it off, like she did.

Caroline also informs others on Pennsylvania's new law requiring insurers to cover ultrasounds and MRIs for high-risk women, such as those with a family history of breast cancer, or extremely dense breasts.

She also advocates for fairer racial representation in breast cancer brochures, cards, posters, and books.

"What it shows is like a light woman, a white woman, a fairly light black woman. But it's nothing that's geared toward a dark-complexioned woman," she notes.

She also urges everyone to speak up if something in their body, or in their healthcare, doesn't seem right.

Caroline's voice is getting through.

She's working with the American Cancer Society in Philadelphia on patient literature, and her story has inspired others to get mammograms.

And she'll be speaking from the heart at Sunday's walk.

To register, click here.

If you want to take part, but haven't signed up online, registration opens at 8:30. The walk begins at 9:45.