As many know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a very important time to remember those who are battling or have been lost to the disease. It’s also a time to remind everyone of the importance of regular screenings. Early detection can save lives – just as it did for the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s very own Jackie Slosnerick.
“I do have to say that compared to others, I got off easy,” Jackie confessed.
Those who know Jackie know that she is prepared for anything. Everywhere she goes, she carries what she considers a bag of “essentials” – basically covering any possible thing someone might need – like, ever. Super glue, a thumb drive, a sewing kit, a soldering iron, a barrel of monkeys (no, seriously…) – if you need it, Jackie probably has it.
For her, it’s better to stay ahead of the problem, no matter what may come her way. She follows that same philosophy when it comes to her health, remaining vigilant to a genetic trend that she knew would one day find her.
“Due to my family history, my attitude has been not a matter of ‘if’ I would get cancer, but ‘when,’” she said.
Out of the five siblings in her family, including Jackie’s fraternal twin sister, three have had breast cancer. Two have even had multiple bouts with the disease, while an older sister passed from another form of cancer. For decades, Jackie has known the stats are against her.
“I have been very aware of making sure to get checked regularly, since I was about 27,” she went on.
During her annual exam in 2020, she was asked if she had her routine mammogram (an x-ray of the breast) yet that year. She said no, since COVID had thrown off her typical schedule. Luckily enough, she was able to go down the hall and get it done that same day in a matter of minutes.
Soon after, Jackie found out her “when” had arrived. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
But, just as she is for everything else, Jackie was prepared.
“My first thoughts were, ‘Okay, now how do we go forward?’” she said. “I didn’t feel like this was a death sentence. I knew I had done everything right.”
“Knowing what my sisters had gone through, I know how fortune I am and was,” she continued.
Her treatment began with a biopsy and lumpectomy. The tumor was 2mm, about the size of an air rifle pellet – so small that the biopsy and lumpectomy were able to serve the same purpose. She was able to progress without chemotherapy but did experience a few months of radiation, 20 minutes per day.
“It really did take longer to get undressed than it did for the treatment,” she teased.
The treatments included marks on her skin to indicate where the radiation would get “sighted in” – for Jackie, a series of blue dot tattoos that almost appeared as freckles. The dots were used to line everything up for subsequent radiation visits.
For Jackie, the experience was fairly painless, though some scar tissue has been bothersome. She admitted that dealing with the burnt skin left after radiation was probably the worst part. For that, Jackie added two new pieces to her goodie bag: ice packs in Crown Royal bags and Sun Burnt advanced Sun Recovery After Sun Gel (chilled, of course).
“They don’t really tell you the burnt skin doesn’t really show up until after you are done with radiation, so ice is really your friend,” she suggested.
She also added a neck travel pillow to her supply stash for comfort – undergoing several treatments from late May to early September 2020, when she successfully completed her therapy.
“I was very fortunate to have caught my cancer early,” she said. “I had a great group of people that took care of me.”
Jackie’s grateful for the support of several individuals who guided her along the way, including her husband, the surgeon, nurses, radiation techs and even her CMP coworkers who kept her spirits up throughout her cancer journey. One CMP staff member, Amy Cantu, would even send a picture of her tiny dachshund puppy, Wynnston, before Jackie went into each radiation treatment to take her mind off of the procedure.
“I couldn’t help but smile when I went into my treatments,” Jackie said about seeing Wynnston. “I made a point of telling everyone I work with, to tell each one of them face-to-face that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was important to me because I didn’t want anyone to be in the dark, and it wouldn’t be the elephant in the room.”
After her final treatment, Jackie was met in-person and in-puppy by Amy and Wynnston, along with CMP’s Shannon Hand and a handful of balloons – offering a compassionate congratulations to their coworker and friend.
“It was so nice,” Jackie said with a smile, thinking back on the day.
Jackie’s constant resourcefulness has made her a perfect fit as program and competition support at the CMP North office. She’s involved with many areas of the organization but can mostly be seen wearing a vest behind the firing line at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center air gun range at Camp Perry, where she often serves as a Range Safety Officer. Jackie can also be found behind the trigger on the range as an air pistol competitor.
“I was always interested in marksmanship,” she said. “As a kid, I had a bow and arrow, but I never had any real instruction until much later. I was the last in a long line of daughters, and my father didn’t want any of us to shoot.”
But, Jackie had other plans…
In 1983, she worked for a small print shop in Port Clinton after getting married. The shop printed firearm raffle tickets for a local American Legion, where the winner received a newly donated gun. Once, on a whim, she offered to buy a ticket – not thinking much of it. To her surprise, she won a shotgun of her own.
“I decided if I were to keep it, I had to learn how to use it properly,” she explained.
Luckily, she had taken an Ohio Hunters Education Course before she even owned the shotgun and also received instruction from her former boss, Ralph Burnstine. She quickly picked up on the skill – so much so that Jackie and her husband, Steve, began to go waterfowl hunting with Ralph and his dog.
Jackie fell in love with the sport and wanted more, deciding to move on to pistol shooting. She joined the nearby Oak Harbor Conservation Club where they have a Junior Air Pistol program. Having to start somewhere, Jackie jumped right into practice with the kids. After some time and a lot of frustration, she felt she was improving enough to buy her own air pistol – a Baikal IZH-46M.
“I was so thrilled!” she said.
She then started attending the Open Public Nights facilitated by the CMP each week at Camp Perry, where anyone is welcome to come fire an air rifle or air pistol. It was there that she honed her game and gained the courage to compete in real matches – her first in 2008. Since then, she has attended nearly every CMP Monthly Air Gun Match and air gun competition held at Camp Perry.
“The thing I like about marksmanship is you don’t have to be young, or big or whatever,” she said. “You are in control. You take things as far as you want to.”
In addition to being a familiar face within the air gun world, Jackie travels to CMP outdoor events around the country with her gaggle of “Dammit Dolls” – a series of polyester-stuffed stress relief dolls known for their wacky designs and quirky purpose. Jackie, who is naturally camera shy, uses the dolls to document her travels and life journeys, including her cancer treatments.
“I had my ‘Dammit Dolls’ with me every step of the way,” she said. “I even have a band aid on my breast cancer ‘Dammit Doll’ where my surgery took place.”
Though her radiation treatments affected her overall stamina and strength for a time, Jackie marked a return to competition by signing up for USA Shooting’s Winter Air Gun event at Camp Perry in December, eager to resume the sport she loves. She took to her firing point with her Walther LP400 Carbon barrel air pistol and a towel given to her by fellow air pistol shooter Amy Trombley from Michigan that says, “Just be ridiculously awesome today.” And, she was – shooting her personal best in the match.
“I was so thrilled,” she said. “I thought, ‘Okay, I’m really back now – no more excuses!”
When she’s not shooting air pistol, Jackie participates in archery during the winter months and has been known to shoot clays from time to time. With her diligent preparedness, a community of support and, of course, a bottomless satchel of supplies, Jackie’s health and competitive spirit is ready for anything.
“I don’t really have any future goals – just keep working on getting better on both fronts,” she said.
Breast Cancer Awareness:
The most commonly diagnosed cancer globally and among women in the United States, about 1 in 8 will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. As of January 2021, more than 3.8 million women in the U.S. have had a history of breast cancer, with an estimated 281,550 new invasive and 49,290 non-invasive cases expected in total in 2021. Men are also at risk, with 2,650 new cases expected.
Though genetics play a factor, with a woman’s risk doubling if she has a mother, sister or daughter with the disease, about 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women with no family history. Luckily, with regular screenings and early detection, there is hope for many. Learn more about the risk factors, management and treatment of breast cancer by visiting https://breastcancer.org.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.