An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Oct. 9, 2013

Cancer's fight with Jessica Newbury

By Airman First Class Chacarra Neal Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

"I found a lump in my right breast in 2009," said Jessica Newbury. "Two years after my mom passed away from this very same thing."

Newbury was only 25 years old when she started her battle with breast cancer.

"The doctors diagnosed me with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ and Invasive Cancer," said Newbury.

"My right breast had Stage 0 Breast Cancer," said Newbury. "But my left breast had Stage 2B Breast Cancer."

Ductal carcinoma in Situ is the earliest stage at which breast cancer can be diagnosed.

The doctors told Newbury Ductal Carcinoma in Situ is noninvasive, indicating that it has not yet made it to breast tissue outside of the ducts. However, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma is cancer that begins growing in the duct and invades the fatty tissue of the breast outside of the duct.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer, representing 80 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Newbury remembers that she was given three and a half weeks to prepare for a surgery that would remove not only her cancerous tumors, but also her breasts.

"The cancer was progressive and doctors had to move quickly," said Newbury. "It didn't give me much time to mentally prepare for what was happening, but there was no time to waste."

Newbury then started chemotherapy and radiation.

"Most patients go to chemotherapy every three weeks," said Newbury. "But because of the type of cancer I had, and how aggressive it was, I was required to go every two weeks. The process can only be described as grueling."

Newbury went through chemotherapy for a total of 15 months.

"A normal day of chemotherapy consisted of blood work in the morning to insure my white blood cell count was high enough to support the chemotherapy treatment," explained Newbury. "It basically poisons your body."

Chemotherapy was an all-day event for Newbury; taking five to six hours at a time.

"After chemotherapy I would be extremely sick for the next five days or so," said Newbury. "Chemotherapy was on Tuesdays and I didn't start to feel better until at least Saturday or Sunday."

Radiation and chemotherapy impacted Newbury's ability to perform in the workplace.

Newbury joined the United States Navy in 2003 and served for eight years as a machinist mate 1st class. With her condition, she could stay in the Navy, but wasn't allowed to continue her same job because of the radiation exposure.

"I was a nuclear instructor," said Newbury. "I trained nuclear operators to work in the fleet. I loved my job and I had no desire to do anything else!"

Now, Newbury is medically retired.

"Everybody's definition of a fighter is different," said Machinist Mate 1st Class Michael Okert. "Mine is Jessica Newbury. For her to go through the numerous treatments and surgeries and still be able to come to work every day with a smile on her face, no matter how much pain she was in, that's impressive. She refused to let cancer win the fight. That's a fighter to me."

Newbury says the hardest part of the entire experience was losing her hair.

"I was very self-conscious," said Newbury. "When I stopped wearing a wig I had really, really short hair. It was more of a thing for me, than for the people around me."

Newbury says her command gave her the inspiration and support she needed to get through this difficult time.

"When I was in the hospital or having a surgery, my command was incredibly supportive by sending me flowers and bringing my husband food," said Newbury.

Jessica Newbury has been married to her husband Scott Newbury for nearly 10 years.

"I know its cliché, but my husband was amazing, he was really helpful," said Newbury. "He actually shaved my head for me when I started to lose my hair, and he shaved his too!"

Scott would get Jessica out of bed and moving when she needed to.

"He was kind of the regiment enforcer," said Newbury. "When I didn't want to get out of bed he helped me up. We would walk to the end of the driveway and back. He pushed me to do a little more every day."

With the type of tumor Newbury had and with the risk of her getting ovarian cancer she was forced to have a hysterectomy leaving her unable to have children in the future.

Scott and Jessica still want to start a family and will start their adoption process next year.

"I am currently working on my master's degree in project management," said Newbury. "If all goes well I will be graduating in December, and Scott and I can start the adoption process. We're more excited than anything to raise a mini Newbury."

In support of raising money and awareness, Newbury will be running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on October 19, 2013, in Daniel Island, S.C.

"The technology has come so far with digital mammograms," said Newbury. "The benefit of knowing that you are OK outweighs the little bit of discomfort that comes along with it. The nurses and technicians make it as quick and painless as possible, while maximizing your privacy."

Newbury has been in remission for a little over four years today.