A benefit will be held Friday, Nov. 2 for Cindy Jackson of Wheatland. Jackson is battling breast cancer and proceeds will help defray travel and medical costs. (Courtesy photo)
WHEATLAND - When friends describe you as inspirational, exuberant, stunning, loving and caring, it's evident you have made an impact on their life.
These are words that friends used to describe Cindy Jackson.
Jackson and her husband Doug have lived in Wheatland since 1977. Her love of children took her down a career path as a daycare provider. This year marked the beginning of her 39th year in the profession. Though she believed this year would be like any other year, the past couple months have been anything but normal for her.
Jackson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in late August.
Although cancer is widespread on her father's side of the family - Jackson's father passed away from cancer - the news was still devastating.
"It's just so hard to see my family go through this because it's easier on me than it is on them," she said. "I guess I feel like I've already been through the worst." (Jackson's son Beau passed away several years ago in an automobile accident.)
Jackson said she looks at having breast cancer as another trial in her life. It would appear that there is light at the end of the tunnel for her in this trial. Following a PET scan she learned that the cancer did not hit any major organs. Jackson said the news had her on her knees thanking God.
This ordeal has also given Jackson a platform to raise awareness to friends and family members about the importance of early breast cancer detection.
Although mammograms can detect about 85 percent of all breast cancers, Wyoming's breast cancer screening rates remain one of the nation's worst.
Jackson said mammograms, as well as self breast exams, are musts for women.
In her case, Jackson's breast cancer could not be detected from a mammogram. Self-breast exams, she said, are "the best thing you can do for yourself." She has even dubbed the phrase "Touch the Tatas Tuesdays" as a reminder to her friends about self-breast exams.
Through this trial in her life, Jackson described the support she has received from people as overwhelming.
"The compassion that has come out has just brought me to my knees," she said.
Jackson's sister, Theresa, drives from Casper almost every weekend to spend time with her. Her sister-in-law, Lori, drives from Gillette to stay with her Monday through Wednesday. Another sister-in-law, Kim, takes Jackson to the hospital.
"They're my three little angels," Jackson said.
Jackson described friend Cindy Tillman as her all-around guardian angel. The two Cindys have been friends for years. Tillman and other friends of the Jacksons came together recently to plan a benefit.
"We wanted to do something for her and Doug because they've done so much for our children," Tillman said.
The Cindy Jackson Benefit will be held this Friday, Nov. 2. All proceeds will be used to help defray travel and medical costs for the Jackson family. It will be held from 5:30 pm until 11 pm at the Platte County 4-H building.
The benefit will begin with a pasta dinner from 5:30 to 8 pm. Costs range from five dollars per plate in advance or eight dollars at the door.
People may dance to DJ Magik from 8 to 11 pm.
Other highlights of the benefit include a live auction (Weber Auction Service), raffle and 50/50 drawing.
For more information on the benefit, please call Cindy Tillman at (307) 331-1484.
Since her diagnosis, Jackson has received an outpouring of support from people.
"Once again we've found ourselves being lifted and pulled up," she said. "These people give us the strength to get through this. We'd just like to thank everybody."
Donations to help defray travel and medical costs for the Jackson family may be made at Platte Valley Bank.