Connie Jackley

Gynecologic Malignancies Patient Stories, Colon Cancer Patient Stories, Pancreatic Cancer Patient Stories, Breast Cancer Patient Stories

Connie Jackley

Connie and her surgeon and friend, Dr. James C. Watson.

In 1995, Connie and Michael Jackley experienced life's greatest pain as they lost their only child, Rachel, 21, to cancer. Several years later, when Connie was diagnosed with cancer herself, she did not have the desire to fight. Thankfully, Dr. James Watson, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, entered the picture and inspired her to keep fighting when she felt like she had nothing left to give. He performed multiple surgeries on Connie over the years to keep her alive and well. Connie now considers Dr. Watson a friend.

In the spring of 2002, at the age of 52, Connie began to develop complications due to menopause. She was in a great deal of discomfort and was plagued by excessive bleeding. Her gynecologist ordered a battery of tests to determine the root of the problem, which turned out to be uterine cancer.

Connie recalled being strongly encouraged by her employer to go to Fox Chase Cancer Center instead of a local hospital with a cancer division. "Thankfully I took his advice and I made an appointment with Dr. Edelson in Fox Chase's gynecological department," shared Connie. During the consultation, he noted Connie's family history of colon cancer. The doctor recommended that she have a colonoscopy and explained that since she was going to have a hysterectomy anyway, it would be the perfect time to take care of any problem with her colon as well.

"Sure enough, the colonoscopy showed a cancerous polyp," Connie said. "And as a result of the cancerous polyp, Dr. James C. Watson at Fox Chase came into my life!" During an extensive surgery, Dr. Watson performed a colon resection and hysterectomy. Following surgery, Connie did not require chemotherapy or radiation as all of the cancer was removed during both procedures.

"I remember being very impressed with Dr. Watson at our first meeting."

"Dr. Watson was always so good at explaining everything so well," recalled Connie. "He never made me feel like I was just another patient. He made me feel relaxed from day one.

Connie Jackley

Connie and Michael Jackley

"Fast forward to 2003, when my husband had to rush me to the local emergency room because I was experiencing extreme stomach pain," said Connie. The results of a CAT Scan helped doctors identify a pancreatic tumor.

"It was time to call in Dr. Watson once again, and I couldn't have been happier that he was able to help me."

Dr. Watson recommended another surgical procedure, this time a distal pancreatectomy (removal of the end of the pancreas), due to the size and location of the tumor. Connie was pleased with her recovery and again, decided not to have additional treatment due to her personal experience watching her daughter struggle through treatment.

Several years later, in 2005, Connie began to experience more gastrointestinal (specifically, bowel) issues. Her local gastroenterologist could not determine (after many colonoscopies and tests) why her bowel was not functioning properly.

"I actually called Dr. Watson in tears and begged him to help me and he was so wonderful, as usual."

Dr. Watson invited Connie back to Fox Chase for additional testing, as he had a sense of what might be wrong. He ordered an arteriogram, which identified the part of the bowel that stopped functioning. "It was back to the operating room to have more bowel taken out," shared Connie. Fortunately, no cancerous tissue was detected. Connie was extremely grateful to Dr. Watson for his foresight in determining what was going on.

Over the next 2 years, Connie continued with her regular doctor's visits, CAT scans and blood work. In 2007, a CAT scan again revealed another tumor. This time the tumor was located at the head of her pancreas. "I was at my wit's end," Connie recalled. "I felt like I had been through enough and I did not want to go ahead with any more surgeries."

Dr. Watson called Connie on several occasions, trying to convince Connie that he could help. He explained to Connie that she did have reasons to go through with the surgery. "He assured me, with a sense of genuine confidence, that I would come out of the surgery successfully with few side effects," she shared. Connie was grateful for Dr. Watson's personal concern for her situation and for taking the time to help her work through some of her non-surgical related issues. "Dr. Watson really cared about healing me - emotionally, not just physically."

After deliberating with her husband, Connie agreed to undergo another surgery. Although she felt the hospital stay was a bit lengthy, she was happy to report that in the end, she did quite well. She began taking enzymes each day to help digest her food, and, as before, she chose not to undergo additional treatment. "This was a very personal decision - one that was not recommended," she admitted. "But it was my choice. And my physicians respected that."

Following surgery, Connie continued to see Dr. Watson for regular exams who detected a lump in Connie's breast.

Once again Dr. Watson saves the day!"

A biopsy revealed cancer in Connie's breast. In March 2009, Dr. Richard Bleicher, a breast surgeon at Fox Chase, performed a double mastectomy on Connie. She chose to undergo breast reconstruction under the care of Dr. Neal Topham, also at Fox Chase. "I am doing well at this point and I am so relieved that I went through with the breast reconstruction."

"I really feel like Dr. Watson is my friend, not just my surgeon."

Connie wrapped up her story by thanking Dr. Watson for his dedication, respect and medical expertise. "Because of Dr. Watson, I am still here and I truly feel like I am accomplishing more in my life now than many healthy women who never had to go through any surgeries. I really feel like Dr. Watson is my friend, not just my surgeon. I just cannot say enough about him and about everyone at Fox Chase."