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Jaschiks Thank Oncology Staff by Supporting Their Future Work

December 20, 2021
From the day she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, it took Karen Jaschik six and a half months to complete treatment, but her experience with the staff at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute will stay with her much longer than the cancer did.

“The staff was so supportive, in every unit,” Jaschik said. “They’re very dedicated. You are a person to them and that’s what makes the journey easier.”

Jaschik was diagnosed at the end of June 2020, had surgery in August 2020.

Jaschik’s cancer was caught early and, at 63 years old, she was young and healthy, a good candidate to make a full recovery. A tissue sample sent out for testing indicated that with surgery but no additional treatment there was a 27 percent chance the cancer could come back within nine years. Jaschik thought those sounded like great odds. Her oncologist Dr. Priyanka Mittar did not agree.

“She said, ‘we can get better, we can do better and get your numbers done to single digits, we want you to do just a minimal four rounds of chemotherapy. I’m still going to be your doctor whether you decided to go with chemotherapy or not. But if you were a member of my family, I would want you to do the chemo. Go home and think about it.’

“I went home, and that evening my daughter walked in with my two granddaughters (8 and 6). That was my answer. That’s why I did the chemo. It was a choice, but I don’t regret doing it.”

Jaschik began chemotherapy in October 2020 during a surge in COVID-19 cases and completed chemo the day GBMC detected a cyberattack to all data and information systems, delaying her radiation until January 2021. She completed radiation on February 16, 2021. Despite receiving treatment during a tenuous time for staff and patients, Jaschik never felt a dip in the quality of her care.

“For my job, I could work remotely,” Jaschik said. “They had to show up every day. They had no choice, but you would never know. They were there, every day, smiling and laughing. The staff was amazing.”

Jaschik connected with one infusion nurse in particular during her four chemotherapy treatments. The first two sessions had their setbacks, including a blood clot that caused her to be hours late for her second treatment. But Chris had lunch waiting for Jaschik when she arrived.

“They knew I had been there since 8 a.m. and hadn’t eaten,” Jaschik said. “It wasn’t like I was a number. I was a real person who they genuinely cared about. When I went up in October (2021) for a general routine visit, I baked some goodies and went up to see Chris. I wasn’t sure she would remember me because it had been over a year. She jumped out of her chair and gave me a hug and asked me how my granddaughters were doing. They really care.”

Because of the pandemic, Jaschik’s husband, Tom, was not able to be there for treatments.

“It was tough with her having to do it by herself,” Tom Jaschik said. “But I knew after the first time she was in good hands because she was in good spirits. They made it a lot easier on us just the way they handled things and their support of her.”

It was this genuine care and concern that led the Jaschiks to give a gift to The Promise Project to support the construction of the Sandra R. Berman Pavilion.

“We didn’t know about The Promise Project at first,” Karen Jaschik said. “My intent was to give a gift to breast cancer as a thank you for the great work and dedication they gave to me. But when I heard about this campaign, it really is needed. The services were awesome, but the building and structure could use some updating. The staff did a good job with what they have, but it’s well needed moving forward.”

“You can’t put a price tag on how supportive those people were,” Tom Jaschik said. “If you are in a position where you can further their efforts, we saw what it did for us and fortunately it turned out well for us at this point. But anything to help them continue that work and support other people is money well spent.”

“I considered myself very blessed,” Karen Jaschik added. “It was caught very early. Some aren’t so fortunate. Some don’t have the means to get to their treatments and I’d like to pay it forward and know that I helped someone else. I couldn’t have been more impressed, and I want other people to benefit when they are going through this to make their experience easier.”

The Jaschiks’ support of The Promise Project will last in the new building for years to come.

To learn more about The Promise Project, track fundraising progress and learn how to make your promise, visit The Promise Project website.
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