“Today, I received the diagnosis: breast cancer. I never thought I’d be 1 of the 8 women in this category, but here we are…”

Gillian Mack of Windham, Maine, Breast Cancer Patient

Thus begins Gillian Mack’s story on February 2, 2024, in her first-ever blog post. She was only 39 years old and there was no history of breast cancer in her family. She had recently felt a lump in her breast, however, so she met with her PCP who advised her to get a mammogram.

“I was hoping and praying this was all a big fire drill, and things would go back to normal,” said Gillian, who is a working mom, raising two young children with her husband, Jimmy. But after a second round of imaging and a biopsy, the results were conclusive: invasive ductal carcinoma. It was a curve ball no one expected.

Gillian was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which is rare, particularly for someone under age 40. She quickly sought treatment from Dr. Eleni Nackos at New England Cancer Specialists (NECS), who came highly recommended to her by current and former NECS patients.

“I saw Dr. Nackos, who is just the best,” said Gillian. And it didn’t take long for Dr. Nacko’s treatment plan to show encouraging results. After just a few rounds of chemo, Gillian noticed the lump was gone. She recalls, “Dr. Nackos confirmed she didn’t feel a lump either, which means it’s gone or at the very least broken up, a clear sign that the treatment is doing its job!”

To keep friends and family up-to-date on her cancer journey, Gillian started a blog called “Pink Has Always Been My Favorite Color.” She felt it would be easier to tell her story in one place, rather than try to fill people in individually. She also wanted a forum to give other cancer patients hope. “Even reaching just one person through my story and giving them a sense of hope makes this whole thing a little more bearable,” she said.

Gillian Mack with her cancer fight socks

Gillian at NECS receiving chemo in her fight socks.

Gilliam Mack

Gillian with Slugger, the Portland Sea Dogs mascot after throwing the first pitch at the Portland Sea Dogs game.

While Gillian is thankful for the expediency and expertise of the entire staff at NECS, she is also grateful for the warm, personal relationships that have developed along the way. This spring, Gillian was invited to throw the first pitch at the Sea Dog’s game in Portland. Not only did Gillian’s family attend, but Dr. Nackos was there to fully support her, and even took a video of Gillian’s pitch for her blog.

“I walked onto the field with my family and my oncologist, got an introduction, and then threw a pitch straight down the pike,” said Gillian. “I nailed it!”

Gillian says she is glad that she chose NECS over the other option she was given. “They really have amazing employees,” said Gillian. “Dr. Nackos, the nurses, and everyone there always make me feel right at home. Kindness just spills out of them."

Even though there are ups and down along the cancer journey, Gillian embraces positivity. She categorizes herself as a go-getter and she works out almost every day to keep her mental health stable. It’s not always easy but she chooses to look on the bright side. “I am definitely not the same person I was a few months ago. I am stronger and more resilient. I am more grateful for my life and health. I am cherishing every moment I have with my family and friends.”

While Gillian continues treatment, her eyes are on the future, and she looks forward to a family trip to Orlando in October. And to those who are faced with a similar cancer diagnosis, she has words of encouragement: “This is a bump in the road, not a death sentence.”

You can read about Gillian’s cancer journey through her blog.

Learn more about prevention and detection of breast cancer.


Share Your Story

At New England Cancer Specialists, we know that each of our patients has a unique cancer journey, with unique challenges and stories. We believe that sharing these stories can inspire and support others, no matter what their diagnosis or where they are in the process.

If you would like to share the story of your cancer journey with us and other patients, please click the link below to learn more.

Submit Your Story

We use cookies and other tools to enhance your experience on our website and to analyze our web traffic. For more information about these cookies and the data collected, please refer to our Privacy Policy.

Close button