October 25, 2004
Methodist Rehabilitation Center Nurse Promotes Cancer Screenings for African Americans
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Margaret Jones will never forget lying awake in the wee hours, worrying that she might die of cancer just like her mom.
So when she survived a 1993 bout with breast cancer, the nurse for Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson began preaching cancer prevention with the fervor of someone who has been born again.
That activism led to a slot as regional chairperson for the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer. And today Jones spreads her message throughout the south central region of Mississippi.
“The purpose of the initiative is to help African Americans become more aware of the need to get regular checkups for cancer,” Jones said. “I hold seminars and talk about the need to do breast self-exams and go to the doctor.”
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jones has organized an Oct. 30 cancer seminar at her church, Greater Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson.
Topics will include cancer awareness and stress management, and women’s concerns won’t be the only focus. Jones knows how important it is to get the cancer prevention message to men, too. Her husband found out he had prostate cancer at a previous seminar at the church.
Although she has been a nurse at Methodist for 20 years, Jones said her medical experience didn’t necessarily prepare her for a battle with cancer.
“That’s a whole different area from orthopedics,” said the nurse manager for the hospital’s Rehab Surgery floor. “I was really humbled. It was a learning experience. At first, all I thought about was dying because my mother died of breast cancer in 1974.”
Jones said such fears could be one reason that cancer is often deadlier for African Americans. “A lot don’t want to know they have cancer, so they put off getting screenings,” she said.
Jones also shares her story of survival via the Mississippi State Health Department’s Witness Program. “We go out and talk to people about breast and cervical cancer, and we also have made a video. It helps people to know there is hope, that they’ve got a chance.
I want them to know that just because you have cancer doesn’t mean it is a death sentence.
“It’s my way of giving back. That was a scary time in my life.”
“Blazing the Trail for Health and Wellness Prevention” is scheduled from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Oct. 30 at Greater Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson. Topics include cancer awareness and stress management. Special guest will be Vida M. Gaynor Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of “11:59:59 (One Minute Before Midnight).”
Margaret Jones is nurse manager for Methodist Rehabilitation Center's Rehab Surgery floor.