An Unexpected Journey: Breast cancer patient diagnosed one month after mother dies of same disease

Photo via Nina Jacobson
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – A Rockford woman learns she has breast cancer, one month after burying her mom from the same disease.

“When you're sick, you want your mom and I lost mine a month before I was sick with this and it's the hardest part.”

Nina Jacobson and her mother Penny share the same color eyes, the same love for life, and one month after saying their final goodbyes, the same devastating diagnosis.

"One month to the day that we buried her, they found my lump," recalls Jacobson.

Jacobson never expected to turn 30 years old as a breast cancer patient, counting down the days until her last chemo-therapy treatment, suddenly switching roles from caregiver to fighter, learning to take on her latest battle, the only way she knows how -- like her mom.

"She never once used the term ‘terminal,’ never once, even until the end. She thought she was going to beat it because she was so strong and so positive.”

Jacobson says the life changing news came during an annual exam. She didn't feel sick and brushed off any possible symptoms as growing pains.
"Sometimes you can't grasp what your body is going through and you try and live normal, well I have a new normal now.”

That new normal came with a new reflection. Jacobson donated her long brown hair months before she was forced to shave it.

"I used to fake it but that was the day I looked in the mirror and saw a cancer patient."

Jacobson also had a double mastectomy along with her older sister Mindy, who just recently decided to do the same.

“My mother, grandmother, and her sisters all had cancer. None are alive."

Jacobson takes time to reflect, re-reading cards from friends, family, and strangers, and while the messages are encouraging, her strongest cheerleader can't be found on paper. Instead in frames.. Showcasing the spirit of a woman who taught her daughter not to give up

"There's got to be a reason I am going through this. If I can find that, what's the point of being mad about it? That's all I can do,” says Jacobson.

A benefit for Nina is being held on August 27 from 3:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. at Volcano Falls in Rockford. The benefit will include food, games, raffles, auctions, and live entertainment. Entrance to the event is free, but wristbands for activities including unlimited mini putt, laser tag, and go carts are $25 before the benefit and $30 at the door. T-shirts are also being sold. For more information about the event or for current updates on Nina’s journey, please click on the attached related links. A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Nina.

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