Upon meeting Jeanie Helton, you don't see tumors and multiple surgeries; you see a bright and joyful face. You don't see chemo and radiation and hair-loss; you see a contagious smile and kind eyes. Upon meeting Jeanie Helton, you don't see a cancer patient; you see a vivacious, captivating woman of faith, and Jeanie Helton would not have it any other way.
Jeanie, who has battled a rare form of breast cancer for five years, decided early on that she would not let cancer define her. "Your diagnosis of cancer becomes a marker in time. There is life before cancer, and I can tell you there is life after cancer," said Jeanie.
This outgoing wife, mother and grandmother will never forget the day she received her diagnosis. "After my exam, my physician put her hand on my shoulder and her big brown eyes were filled with tears...The news was devastating, but the level of compassion gave me hope. I knew if there was anything to help me, this Lexington Clinic physician would find it," Jeanie explains. The road has been long and difficult, but Jeanie keeps an endlessly upbeat attitude and continues to look for the positive in all aspects of her cancer experience.
"This is not a journey I would have picked for myself. But I can tell you that with every journey, even cancer, you can have those positive experiences you would not have gotten to experience," said Jeanie, who points to the overwhelming support she has received from her family and community as evidence. From the moment of her diagnosis, Jeanie's close-knit family has rallied around her. Her husband Charlie and daughters, Buffey and Abbey, have offered constant support. In addition to her immediate family, Jeanie has been amazed by the outpouring of love and well wishes from her extended family, composed of the faculty, administrators and more than 400 students of the Corbin School District, where Jeanie works in the Family Resource Center and teaches character classes.
"I've been cared for by some of the finest chemo nurses, surgeons, oncologists and radiation therapists...I've had such wonderful pastors and church family willing to counsel me...Incredible co-workers who have given me over 100 sick days to help me rest "I have been so blessed," said Jeanie, who stresses how critical a robust support network and open, honest communication with your medical team are during a battle with cancer.
Jeanie emphasizes the importance of being a well informed patient and urges all cancer patients to trust their doctors and to ask questions, "They [your medical team] are in this fight with you. It's not just a job, it is a calling," she explains, adding that her physicians have been wonderfully supportive of her interest in alternative or trial treatments and have worked diligently to help her take advantage of them. "They will work to get you anywhere they think will be beneficial in helping you get better. I just had to ask."
When asked what advice she would give a newly diagnosed cancer patient, Jeanie thoughtfully replied, "I would say, don't be ruled by fear. Take control of your thoughts; let God be your strength. Remember this setback, is just a set-up for a great comeback."
"Your diagnosis of cancer becomes a marker in time. There is life before cancer and I can tell you there is life after cancer!"
Lexington Clinic is Central Kentucky's largest and oldest medical group. We have more than 200 providers in more than 30 specialties taking care of 600,000+ patients in the Lexington community since 1920.