BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that help the body repair damaged cells and DNA. Sometimes, mutations occur that prevent genes from doing their job – making these cells more likely to divide and change, which can lead to cancer. Mutations in these genes can be passed down from either parent. Having a BRCA1 mutation can lead to a greatly increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
“Finding out I had a BRCA mutation made sense and gave me the tools to take a proactive approach to the cancer that had been following our family. I went with surveillance only for a couple of years and then finally decided on surgery for my ovarian cancer risk while maintaining vigorous screening for breast cancer.”
Since having her ovaries removed, life for Sheppard has been a total whirlwind and she says she finally feels at peace. Her daughter is now 4-years-old. Recently, Sheppard’s gotten the opportunity to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Bring Your Brave campaign to educate woman on the value of learning and better understanding their risk for breast and ovarian cancer at a young age.
“Hopefully by speaking out, I’m contributing to the Angelina Jolie effect and most importantly I’m watching my child grow up to be a confident adult who won’t lose her mother to ovarian cancer.”
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My Story: “My Child Won’t Lose Her Mother To Ovarian Cancer” was originally published on blackdoctor.org