WASHINGOTN (WUSA9) -- Over the last few weeks we've been sharing stories about women dealing with the difficult decision of trying to save themselves from cancer before the disease attacks their bodies.
Jackie Sheppard shared her story of how so many young women in her family lost their lives to cancer and what surprised her most about why it was happening.
"My name is Jackie Sheppard and I'm a clinical pharmacist," she told us.
She then shared, "My great grandmother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 18. Followed by my grandma who died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42."
Sheppard added, "I have two paternal aunts one died of ovarian cancer after two bouts of breast cancer and my other aunt is a survivor but she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38."
"With the BRCA 1 mutation and my family history, I have an 87% risk of developing breast cancer in my lifetime," Sheppard told us. "I also have a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer in my lifetime. For me personally, those numbers are too high."
According to Sheppard, "For breast cancer, we can still find cancers at stage zero and stage one. For ovarian cancer, we're still only finding cancers at stage two, stage three, stage four. They're already metastasizing."
She told us, "A lot of people tend to have breast cancer in their family. We tend to have an ovarian cancer risk in our family."
Sheppard said she has decided to take action. "For my increased risk of ovarian cancer, because the outcomes are not very good for ovarian cancer, and screenings are not very good for ovarian cancer, I decided to have a total hysterectomy," sharedSheppard.
She says before the hysterectomy in November 2014,"I would like to run the Marine Corps Marathon before I go under major surgery."
"For my 87% risk of breast cancer, I decided just to watch and wait. To do increased screening, to get MRIs and mammograms every six months, and we're just going to watch and see and we'll go from there," said Sheppard.
But she says, "I wasn't sure where the gene for breast cancer came from... there is absolutely no cancer on my mother's side of the family."
Sheppard wants other people to take note of what she is doing, "I want people who are watching this to know to be proactive in your health, to look at both sides of your family, to understand what's going on at the doctor's, to ask questions, and if something feels wrong, to ask questions about it."
"When you look back at my family, we die of ovarian cancer and we die at a very young age and we die of ovarian cancer... I want to see my child grow," said Sheppard.
"She's onlytwo and I plan to be here for her and umm, if the easiest way to do this is to get rid of my ovaries then, well, they're going," Sheppard told us.
Jackie Sheppard's father was also tested, since the BRCA gene mutation can be on the paternal side. The results were positive. He too is a carrier of the gene mutation and passed it to his daughter.
This week we're giving away two tickets to a special benefit screening of "Decoding Annie Parker." It's about the researcher who discovered the gene mutation. All you have to do is go to the WUSA 9 facebook page and click on the "Decoding Annie Parker Tix" tab. A winner will be chosen next Monday.