Jannell’s Four Cancer Battles
- Cancer warrior Jannell Pickeral, 54, has battled the disease four times in a decade.
- She’s fought not one type of cancer, not two types, but three different types of cancer. One of those cancers was breast cancer, and in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which kicks off today, Pickeral is sharing her story of perseverance.
- Some cancer warriors will live cancer-free for the rest of their lives after treatment, but for others, it’s possible to get a new, second cancer. It’s important for all cancer survivors to know that it’s possible to develop an entirely new cancer, even after surviving the first. This is called a second cancer.
Even though cancer warrior Jannell Pickeral, 54, is 15 months cancer-free, this is the mantra she’s lived by since her first cancer diagnosis more than a decade ago.Read More
Since 2009, the high school French teacher, wife to Robert and mother of two has battled cancer four times; she’s fought not one type of cancer, not two types, but three different types of cancer in a decade. One of those cancers was breast cancer, and in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which kicks off today, Pickeral is sharing her story of perseverance — one that’s captivated her community.
Jannell’s Four Cancer Battles
Pickeral’s first bout with cancer began when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009; the cancer was detected during an unrelated surgical procedure. Five years later in 2014, Pickeral was diagnosed with cancer again, this time it was in her breast. She found a lump in her breast; it turned out to be stage 3 estrogen-positive HER2 negative breast cancer; HER2 is a growth-promoting protein on the outside of all breast cells, and breast cancers that have estrogen receptors are called ER-positive.
Once she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she went through both chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She tells InformNNY that at the time, she believed the treatments were “leading down a path closer to recovery.”
“I thought I was good for a bit, but then the radiation damaged my skin so badly that I ended up with a radiation-induced sarcoma a few years later,” Pickeral tells InformNNY. “And then a year after that, I ended up with another sarcoma, which is where I’m at right now.”
Kara Ladd was 24 years old and just getting her life started in New York City when she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma.
Sarcomas are rare cancers that develop in the bones and soft tissues, including fat, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, deep skin tissues and fibrous tissues, according to Johns Hopkins. And according to the American Cancer Society, it’s estimated that in 2021, about 13,460 new soft tissue sarcomas will be diagnosed in the United States and about 5,350 people are expected to die of soft tissue sarcomas.
Pickeral then underwent “radical surgery,” in an attempt to remove the cancerous cells. Pickeral has been cancer-free for 15 months now; she even celebrated her 54th birthday recently. And even though she’s now on the other side of her most recent bout with cancer, Pickeral says she’s not naive.
“I know it can rear its head again at any time, but it’s just a huge sense of relief that I made it past the year mark,” she says. “I made it (to) 15 months and you know, hopefully, it (will) continue. But if not, I’ll deal with it as it comes and just try to live every day as fully as I can.”
Often, a cancer survivor’s worst fear is facing the disease again — whether that be a recurrence or an entire second cancer. (If cancer is found after treatment, and after a period of time when the cancer couldn’t be detected, it’s called a cancer recurrence, according to the American Cancer Society.)
Some cancer warriors will live cancer-free for the rest of their lives after treatment, but for others, it’s possible to get a new, second cancer. According to ACS, it’s important for all cancer survivors to know that it’s possible to develop an entirely new cancer, even after surviving the first.
This is called a second cancer.
That sounds scary; what is a “second cancer”? A second cancer is different from a cancer recurrence, which is when the same type of cancer a person had before comes back. A second cancer is a new cancer that’s unrelated to any previous cancer diagnosis; it’s a completely different type of cancer. Sometimes the new cancer is in the same organ or area of the body as the first cancer, or a second cancer may develop in another organ or tissue.
Whether you’re going through your first cancer diagnosis, or a second, keep Pickeral’s mantra in the back of your mind: “Cancer does not define me.”