Jackie Jackson has been recognized by the Mexican government for her help with women who have breast cancer.

An offering of dignity for breast cancer survivors abroad

Founder of Mexico's Cancer de Mama Clinic lives in Comox Valley

  • Feb. 6, 2015 9:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record Staff

Jackie Jackson knows exactly what a good bra can do for a woman.

She knows this based not only on her own experience, but what it has done for hundreds of Mexican woman who now hold their head high as a result of Jackson’s help.

Jackson, who moved from Enderby, B.C. to the Comox Valley, is not only a breast cancer survivor, but the founder behind Cancer de Mama Clinic — an annual group which provides a healing service for those with breast cancer in Nayarit, Mexico.

The clinic helps women by providing free prostheses, allowing them to regain their self confidence along with providing wigs, scarves, hats and clothes.

“Some of the women come out and they are dancing with happiness. It’s so amazing. One woman collapsed in tears,” said Jackson from her Courtenay home. “It is such an emotional thing.”

Following her mastectomy, Jackson — who spent considerable time with her husband in Mexico — met with Dr. Jose Gutierrez and inquired about the availability of resources for women with breast cancer.

“They said that there was nothing in Tepic; the women have the operation and go home. There is no support and they know nothing about prostheses.”

She added many Mexican women also deal with the added stigma of having cancer — looked upon as outcasts who should not be associated with in public, or feel they have to cover their bodies with layers of clothing and bulky sweaters, despite the sweltering heat.

“In 2013 when I went down I met a woman who was crying. Her husband kept her locked away for two years; people wouldn’t have anything to do with her.”

Part of the Cancer de Mama Clinic also includes education, in hopes of demonstrating that women should be treated equally.

While prostheses are covered for women in Canada, Jackson noted there is no medical coverage available for prostheses for Mexican women. While being fitted for her own prosthesis, Jackson was able to gather 20 prostheses to give away.

“The women make makeshift prostheses; they are mostly stockings filled with birdseed.”

Jackson initiated the creation of a breast cancer support group, and a year later, with the help of a medical supply store in Kelowna, was able to collect 59 prostheses and bras to give away.

A makeshift clinic was created at Jackson’s Mexican home where she fitted women and donated bras.

“The women had a very hard time understanding why anyone would just give them something and not want anything in return. The biggest question was if they had to go to my church,” she explained. “I had busloads of women show up at my house.”

The clinic grew, and in 2006, Jackson, along with volunteers, fitted 368 women with bras and prostheses in two-and-a-half days.

“It is amazing to see how happy these women are … a lot of these women have never owned a bra in their life.”

As the clinic grew, Jackson realized it was time to pass it on to a dedicated group of volunteers and medical professionals.

In 2009 when she officially stepped away, the clinic moved into La Penita RV Park with space for hundreds of women. Over the course of a weekend, more than 200 volunteers come together to be fitted with prostheses, wigs, free clothes, have lunch and socialize.

Last year, the Cancer de Mama clinic provided help for 567 women, and Jackson added while the need seems endless, they have never turned a single woman away.

This year’s clinic has already taken place, but Jackson said the need is endless. The clinic is always looking for volunteers, donations of gently used bras, prosthetic bras, prosthetic forms, financial donations and people who can knit or crochet.

For more information on the clinic, visit www.cancerdemamaclinic.com or visit their Facebook page.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Just Posted

NIC’s new Aboriginal Leadership certificate starts this fall

Seats are open for the September start of NIC’s new Aboriginal Leadership… Continue reading

YANA Ride cruises past fundraising goal

The 2018 ride is expected to meet last year’s total of $62,000

Mid-Vancouver Island air quality risk very high

Residents of the mid-Island area went to bed last night and awoke… Continue reading

Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue kept busy across the province

CVGSAR had a busy week, sending rescuers as far away as Invermere

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Suspect in Spiderman suit steals camera on Vancouver Island

Suspect in red and blue “onesie” caught on surveillance footage breaking into truck in Nanaimo

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Zeballos wildfire not getting any closer to town – BC Wildfire Service

Authorities optimistic about Zeballos; choppers grounded due to heavy smoke

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

Beachcombers Academy offers bursary

Beachcombers Academy is offering a bursary for a family who would like… Continue reading

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Most Read