Featured MassKicker

Jane Diamond O’Neill

Don’t be afraid. Arm yourself with information. Get an advocate.

Jane Diamond O’Neill is a scientific mAss Kicker.  She epitomizes the term “thriver” for first battling cancer on a personal level then leading the fight in the community against these horrible diseases.  Since 2009, she has worked at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center Community Outreach Program.  We feel very honored that she was able to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

mK:  Thanks for doing this Jane!  What/ when was your diagnosis?  How did you find out about your diagnosis?

JDO: I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2002, I found out while I was on a training walk for the 60 mile 3 day walk in San Diego.  My second diagnosis came in April of 2006, when it was discovered to have metastasized.

mK:  Wow!  What were your symptoms?

JDO: I had pain in my left breast, otherwise I was probably in the best shape of my life.

mK: Why do you work for the Moores Cancer Center?  

JDO: I feel passionate about helping people with cancer, any type, but because of my personal experience with breast cancer, I am especially drawn to women (or men) who have recently been diagnosed with the disease.

mK: Who is your hero?

JDO:  My hero is my mom.  She is a 35-year survivor of breast cancer and an amazing caregiver.  She has nursed me through so much of my disease, always compassionate and nurturing.

mK: What motivates you?

JDO: My KIDS!

mK: Kids bring out the best in us!  When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?

JDO:  I don’t think I ever didn’t feel like myself.  I just continued training for the 3 day walk, and managed the entire walk, no blisters, no problems.

mK: Three Days of walking!  We’re sure there are a lot of emotions at those events.  What specifically makes you laugh, cry, or angry?

JDO:  I laugh at most everything, hopefully not inappropriately.  I cry at sad movies or sad stories, I get angry when the system makes it difficult for a woman to obtain the treatment she needs for breast cancer.

mKWhat would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?

JDO: Oh, I have lived a pretty full life.  Probably my stint as a sportfishing boat owner was pretty neat.  I loved being out on the ocean for days at a time…

mKWhat was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor?  How did you overcome it?

JDO:  I contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis after my mastectomy and reconstruction.  It just about killed me.  I was lucky, two out of three people who get the infection die.

mK: Whoa!  What is your guilty pleasure?

JDO:  Reading a book all day long.

mK What are your top three Holiday songs of all time?

JDO:  I love “Away in the Manger”, “Silent Night”, and “Jingle Bells” of course!

mK: What do you like to do in your spare time?

JDO:  What is spare time?

mK: HAHAHA!  What are you up to now?

JDO:  Submitting a grant to the Komen Foundation to obtain funding that will help us get breast cancer education to underrepresented minorities.

mK: Very cool!  Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?

JDO:  Don’t be afraid.  Arm yourself with information.  Get an advocate.

mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.

JDO:  I talk and walk in my sleep.  So do all three of my kids…

mK: You ever record the “conversations” to use as blackmail?  Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?

JDO:  Keep up the fight!

Jane Diamond O’Neill: Deadliest Catch reality show fisherman, avid reader, Christmas ballad fan, sleep walker, and patient research advocate!  Thanks for everything you are doing to fight these horrible diseases!  We’ll definitely keep an eye on the happenings at UCSD Moores Cancer Center!

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