By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The community became familiar with Jackie Smith throughout the past four years as program and events coordinator of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, as well as committee member of the annual Evening of Giving to benefit Roland’s House, formerly known as the Marlborough-Hudson Homeless Shelter. Now, Smith’s fellow community leaders are planning a fundraiser to help her as she continues coping with a medical scare.
After getting laid off from her job this past October, Smith acknowledges that she felt stressed. She went to the Marlborough Hospital emergency room in November with symptoms similar to a heart attack, then was transferred by ambulance to the cardiology department at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. Three days of evaluation including a computed tomography scan resulted in a different diagnosis.
“They told me I did not have a heart attack,” Smith said. “But they found a mass in my lung that was highly suspicious. They wanted me to meet with a pulmonologist.”
She met in December with a pulmonologist, who ordered a positron emission tomography (PET) scan at Shields Health Care Group. After getting a PET scan in January, Smith consulted surgeons at two hospitals.
“The pulmonologist said the PET scan showed that the mass was highly active and wanted me to meet with a surgeon,” she explained. “Everybody agreed that the mass was at a very bad spot; it was around major arteries. No one wanted to do a biopsy; they wanted to go in only once and take it out.”
Smith chose to have the mass surgically removed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She stayed there for five days, then went to Dana–Farber Cancer Institute. There, she learned that her mass was stage 1 adenocarcinomas, a type of lung cancer. Smith is grateful that the mass was detected and removed at an early stage.
“It was a godsend,” she said of her medical scare. “Because I went to the hospital thinking it was a heart attack, they found this mass at stage 1 that I wouldn’t have known was there otherwise.”
Monitoring will continue at Dana-Farber. She’s scheduled for a body and brain scan to determine whether the cancer has spread.
Smith mentioned her health concerns to Aura Gauthier during a chance meeting while shopping. Gauthier contacted Evening of Giving committee member Jean Peters, who then spoke with event chair Bob Kays. Soon, a group of committee members began meeting regularly to organize a fundraiser to help Smith.
“I love Jackie like a daughter,” Peters shared. “Jackie is such a nice person. We made a connection right away when I first met her.”
The fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, April 28, from 6 to 11 p.m., at the Marlborough Moose Family Center 1129, 67 Fitchburg St. A buffet will be prepared by Kays with desserts by committee members. Guests will be entertained with music performed by the rock-and-roll band Flashback, as well as pianist and vocalist Ed McCarron. A cash bar will be available.
Among silent auction and gift basket items are sports memorabilia, a handmade quilt, and many gift cards for eateries including Fish Restaurant & Wine Bar, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn and Wildwood Steakhouse. Ticket printing was donated by Minuteman Press.
Admission is a $25 donation per person. Tables of 10 are $250. Reservations can be made in advance by calling Aura Gauthier at 508-259-7420 or Cathi DeCiero at 508-341-7977.
“We’re making it a fun night with food and music,” Peters said. “We’re all rallying around Jackie to help her through this hard time.”