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Jyl Jenkins

Jyl Jenkins
Posted on: 01/01/2024
“I don’t recommend cancer, but if you go through it, the whole EIRMC team is honestly wonderful.” – Jyl Jenkins

Jyl Jenkins’ family grows cysts, not cancer – at least that’s what their medical history showed.

“We’ve had family members with cysts on arms, ovaries or in breasts. One family member alone had more than 15 cysts removed … So, after I had a mammogram and they said they saw a little cyst, I thought it was no big deal. They said they’d keep an eye on it, and in the meanwhile, I forgot about it,” Jyl said.

At her next mammogram, EIRMC’s medical team inserted a tiny metallic marker into the breast to flag the cyst for future imaging; but, as luck would have it, Jyl didn’t undergo further imaging for a while.

“I wasn’t great at getting mammograms every year, and then COVID happened. I wasn’t worried about cancer at all … and I let almost 5 years go between mammograms,” Jyl said.

Idaho Cancer Center: Offering the most advanced radiation oncology treatment in the region

When Jyl returned to EIMRC for a mammogram in October 2022, she didn’t realize it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and she definitely didn’t expect to begin a breast cancer journey. The mammogram revealed that the cyst had grown significantly, and a biopsy of the area identified invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC).

IDC is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for about 75 percent of all breast cancer cases; it’s also considered curable when detected and treated early. Thankfully, Jyl’s IDC was identified in Stage 1. Oncologists at the Idaho Cancer Center at EIRMC created a customized treatment plan utilizing surgery and most advanced radiation oncology treatment in the region.

“First came surgery to remove the area, then I began radiation treatments five days a week for four weeks. I did just fine. I wasn’t tired or anything, but about two weeks into radiation I started developing painful blisters below my breasts,” Jyl said.

Just as the radiation’s effects were accumulating, another unexpected and unfortunate event occurred. Back in the 90s, teenage Jyl had survived a car accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down. Over the years, her body regained some feeling and strength, and Jyl had re-learned to walk with the use of canes. But amidst her cancer treatment, while gathering gifts to take to a Christmas party, Jyl tripped over a cane, fell and broke her right femur.

When health falls apart, EIRMC provides uplifting, compassionate, quality care

An ambulance drove Jyl down snowy, icy roads to EIRMC’s Emergency Room. Surgeons then strategically placed two metal plates and 14 screws to repair her femur. She needed to re-learn to walk again.

Jyl spent Christmas in the hospital. She missed the opportunity to see her only grandchild, and needed daily ambulance transport from EIRMC to Idaho Cancer Center (just across the street) for radiation therapy.

“It was hard. I bawled … I had blisters under my chest oozing and my femur broken … I don’t know how miserable you can get,” Jyl remembered.

At this low point, Jyl said medical professionals offered comfort and solutions that made a big difference.

“I don’t recommend cancer, but if you go through it, the whole EIRMC team is honestly wonderful. The hospital’s burn specialists suggested little gel pads, and they were like a slice of heaven. The radiation team at the cancer center was so kind. They encouraged me to finish treatment, even when I wanted to stop,” Jyl said. “Also, while I was in the hospital, Jamie, my nurse navigator from the cancer center, and another cancer center employee member came to visit me. From Day 1, Jamie has led me through everything and made sure I was taken care of.”

Jyl eventually returned home, completed her radiation therapy and recovered her strength, but her battle continued. She underwent a bone density test and received another diagnosis: osteoporosis. That explained her broken femur, and it would explain what happened next.

Life lessons learned: Be patient, be proactive, and pick the best cancer team

“A few months later, I got to the point where I could walk with my walker, but one day it got caught on a ramp. I went up, over the walker and fell again. I was so worried about my broken leg that I wasn’t thinking about the other side,” Jyl said. “That’s how I broke my left femur.”

Jyl took another ambulance ride to EIRMC and underwent another surgery where she received a metal plate and 9 screws in her left leg.

“It’s been a long year,” Jyl said. “I fought cancer and I had to re-learn to walk for the second and third times. … I’ve learned patience from this. I’ve also learned not to just sit back, but to be proactive with your health. We need to keep on top of things.”

Jyl feels compelled to spread the message about proactively seeking out health screenings, and her family is listening. Since her cancer journey began, many of her siblings and relatives have scheduled mammograms and bone density tests – and Jyl suggests other women do the same.

“Be proactive. When the doctor tells you to do something, do it. If you find a cyst, be aware,” Jyl said. “And like I’ve said before, if the unexpected happens and you find yourself facing cancer, the team at Idaho Cancer Center at EIRMC is wonderful.”

Jyl Jenkins
Posted on: 01/01/2024

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