The mishap at the jewelry store where she worked made the Phoenix grandmother realize something just wasn't right.
"I hit my right breast hard against the corner of the safe and felt sore after that," Jackson, 53, said of the sensation that spread to her entire breast. She said after a few weeks she noticed the area around her nipple was red and sores had developed.
"I had to put gauze on top of the pus that was draining. It was very scary. I figured something was really wrong," said Jackson, admitting she was in denial at first that there was a problem and distracted between babysitting for her newborn grandson, Jayden, and planning for the wedding of her younger daughter, Stephanie.
What Jackson didn't know at the time was that beneath the rash was an aggressive stage IV breast cancer.
After a month of discomfort and then seeing the sores, Jackson said she made an appointment to see a physician. The doctor confirmed the sinking feeling she had that the news would not be good.
"I was told it looks like inflammatory breast cancer and quite far along," she said. There was a large mass underneath her right breast and a small lump in her left breast that was too small for her to find. "I was very upset with myself for not going for mammograms regularly and not going to the doctor sooner."
It was summer 2008. Jackson broke the news to her husband, Steve, first. Then she waited until the day after she and her daughters, Jennifer, 25, and the bride-to-be, Stephanie, 22, went wedding dress shopping to share the news with them.
"I told them the wedding was going on no matter what," said Jackson, who left her job so she could focus on her health. She said she also had the support of her many siblings. "I have seven brothers and sisters. The phone never stopped ringing."
Jackson didn't have much time to ponder her diagnosis. She was started her on her first dose of chemotherapy two days after her biopsy.
With everything happening so quickly, Jackson said she wanted a second opinion. She said her in-laws had been coming to Mayo Clinic in Arizona for years, which prompted her to schedule an appointment to see Mayo Clinic's Nina Karlin, M.D., a medical oncologist.
"It was one of the worse cases I had ever seen," Dr. Karlin said. Jackson was in stage IV of the disease and the cancer had metastasized to her liver and retroperitoneal lymph nodes.
"Inflammatory breast cancer is an angry cancer. It can spread rapidly and has a worse prognosis than other (types of) breast cancer," said Dr. Karlin, who placed Jackson on a chemotherapy and herceptin regimen from June 2008 to November 2008.
Those with inflammatory breast cancer typically don't present with a lump, Dr. Karlin said. Symptoms may include skin thickening, a rash on part or the whole breast and puckering around the nipple.
Jackson said her initial encounter with Dr. Karlin solidified her plans to put her treatment in the hands of Mayo Clinic's team of specialists.
"I really like Dr. Karlin. She told me exactly what was going on and what she wanted to do. I felt she was warm and honest. She and all the nurses made me feel like I had a fighting chance. Everyone from when you walk in and get into the office is reassuring and helpful," Jackson said.
Jackson's cancer responded well to her treatment at Mayo. The tumor, characterized as her-2/neu amplified, responded well to herceptin and chemotherapy and the metastatic lesions started melting away.
"It was unheard of," Dr. Karlin said of Jackson's astounding progress.
Dr. Karlin said having chemotherapy prior to consideration of surgery is common in cases like Jackson's, being the first line of defense against stopping the cancer from further spreading.
Jackson said she tolerated the chemotherapy well, not getting sick or losing her hair.
"This case blew me away," Dr. Karlin said. "She went from stage IV to no 'NED,' no evidence of disease."
She explained that herceptin is effective for her-2/neu amplified breast cancers and targeted therapy is the wave of the future for oncology.
Jackson said she didn't let her illness derail her day to day activities or her family's special plans.
"Having a grandson was the best blessing. I took care of him as I was planning a wedding. I never stopped doing anything," said Jackson, who danced at her daughter's wedding a month after her mastectomy.
"I still had pain, but nothing was going to stop me from being there," said Jackson. "It was a beautiful wedding."
Dr. Karlin said Jackson handled her emotions well. "She is very stoic and had a lot of faith in the system. She is a really strong lady."
Although Jackson's case is now classified as no evidence of disease, her Mayo doctors still keep a close watch on her. Jackson said she comes in for a check-up with Dr. Karlin about every three months and continues to receive her dose of herceptin every three weeks. She also continues on oral aromatase inhibitor therapy.
Jackson's medical experience also prompted her to make other changes. As part of her cancer treatment at Mayo, Jackson received counseling on diet and fitness. She eats better now and exercises regularly.
"I feel good, very, very well. My hair is growing back in and my eyebrows and eyelashes," said Jackson.
She said she hopes her experience will prompt her daughters to be vigilant about their own health.
Her message to women: "Don't be afraid to go and be checked out or afraid to hear bad news. Be positive."