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Jacqueline Sheppard

Every family has a health story and in Jacqueline Sheppard’s family cancer is a running theme. For the 38-year-old Maryland mother it’s hard for her to say when exactly her own cancer story begins because of this. “I didn’t just wake up one day and feel a lump,” Sheppard tells BlackDoctor.org. “For my family, breast and ovarian cancer have always been there – A boogeyman in the night just ready to jump out and get you.”

Like a boogeyman, Sheppard didn’t think cancer would ever be a reality for her, even though it was for other women in her family. “After you lose your grandmother and two paternal aunts to both breast and ovarian cancer, you start to wonder: “Who is next?” But I was young and confused about my risk. I was under 50, am not of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and have no MATERNAL history of breast cancer.  So I thought I was off the hook.  I was pretty sure that was not how DNA worked but I was going to roll with it…”

Until she couldn’t anymore. Here, she describes the moment at age 35 that led to what she calls her “awakening”:

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