Woman hopes to inspire others with tale of cancer battle


“Sister to Sister” by Jillene Simms

When I first read “Sister to Sister,” the first word that came to mind was courageous, and I felt her agony as I continued to read. Simms said she wanted to write this book to share her experience regarding her battle with breast cancer. Her hope was to help other women who were struggling with similar circumstances. It envelops us into the strenuous effort she put forward and the compassion we feel while reading each page.

Simms found the breast cancer by self-examination. After seeing a physician, it was decided a breast biopsy was in order. Cancer was the diagnosis. She was scheduled for a lumpectomy. During an examination, she was told there was more cancer, and another lumpectomy was performed.

Chemotherapy treatments were scheduled, and as the treatments continued, Simms said her faith in the Lord gave her sustained strength. About a month after the cancer treatments were completed, her husband, John, became ill and was put into a medically induced coma to save his life. No one prepared her for the panic that set in when she realized she was basically alone to care for her loved one. Prayers from family and friends gave her support, and soon John’s strength started to return and Simms was cancer free.

Simms leads monthly support group meetings for the public at HealthSouth in Henderson on the fourth Thursday of every month at 1:30 p.m. The sessions are geared to give emotional and practical support to the caregivers.

“I advise the caregivers to observe as much as they can from the nursing staff as they care for their loved one in the hospital, because most likely they will need to do the same thing when their family member goes home. When the support group meeting is over, someone always comes up and thanks me and tells me how much I helped them,” she said.

“I am sharing my story to help others realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and someone who will walk the tunnel with them. They are not alone. I take being a trusted volunteer very seriously. I put all my effort into my volunteer position and enjoy it very much.”

Simms grew up in Escondido, California. It’s where she went to school and met her future husband, John. They were married after high school and have been together for 52 years. They have two grown sons and two granddaughters.

In 2004, they moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina, but because of the weather they felt they needed a dryer climate and moved to Southern Nevada. Simms is very active with her church in Boulder City and writes its newsletter.

She also enjoys making jewelry using real and man-made stones. She creates the style to accommodate the materials she finds. She found that making the jewelry helped her to relax. It was a key part of her recovery.

Simms said she strives to make special pieces that capture people’s attention and that they can afford to buy. Her favorite piece to make is a crocheted bracelet that has beads in every stitch.

Creative arts have been part of her life for as long as she can remember. In 1970, when her sons were small, she taught children’s groups and had fun writing stories to tell them using a flannel storyboard. In the 1980s, she learned to paint ceramics. She did several large pieces and won a ribbon in a Los Angeles show for an item that took about six months to complete.

Her book can be purchased at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Her email address is sister-2sister@hotmail.com.