MaryEllen’s Journey – A 5-part breast cancer video series (Episode 1)


MaryEllen Sheppard knew something was wrong as soon as she felt a thickened patch of skin on her right breast.  She didn’t feel a lump, but knew the change was different enough to get it checked out.  A mammogram and subsequent biopsy caught her by surprise.

She had breast cancer.

Looking  to share her experience with other women coping with this disease, the 53-year-old mom (and new grandmother) from Tempe, Arizona, allowed a video crew from Mayo Clinic in Arizona to follow her on her journey.

MaryEllen  let the cameras roll during her medical appointments at Mayo Clinic.  Along the way she openly chronicles what it feels like to undergo chemotherapy and describes  how the medical treatments and medications affected her daily life.  She also lets viewers inside her genetic counseling session where she sought to find out if her triple negative breast cancer was inherited and the likelihood if she could ever genetically pass the risk of cancer on to her daughter and new granddaughter.

As this five-part series unfolds, MaryEllen also reveals her views on having to make herself a priority in her family, how she dealt  with losing her hair, how she overcame her fear of  a recurrence and how she takes care of herself now.

In this first episode, you’ll meet MaryEllen at her home as she recalls her reaction to her diagnosis and the fears that came with it.  

We hope you’ll follow MaryEllen’s videos  throughout October and early November on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog and we encourage you to post your comments on the series or post a message to MaryEllen after each new episode airs.

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5 Responses to “MaryEllen’s Journey – A 5-part breast cancer video series (Episode 1)”

  1. Betsey Vanbenschoten Says:

    My friend, my mentor and beautiful light in this world, God has blessed you with a gleaming voice to send forth your gift for giving as you always do in whatever situation you have placed before you. How lucky we are to all know you, grow with you and walk a path with you. Thank you for sharing and honoring us with privilege to have you in our prayers and thoughts. I just had a wonderful Mayo experience myself. You have re-enforced just how fortunate we are to have such a treasured medical facility in our Valley.
    Much love to you –

    Betsey Vanbenschoten

  2. Jill Sheppard Perkins Says:

    Maryellen is my sister in law- or I should say…”My sister, in love.” Who she is- the beautiful lady inside that beautiful body, is exactly what you see in the video. I appreciate that outstanding care that she is getting from Mayo. I know with that and our great God, Maryellen will live long and healthy. We expect nothing but that. The most shocking aspect of this situation is the realization that cancer does not discriminate. Of all the people who never should have dealt with breast cancer, it’s my sweet MaryEllen sister. THAT has opened my eyes wide. The education in just that alone, is unnerving, yet perhaps needful as we- as woman, do our part to watch over one another as sisters, friends, and even strangers. I have found myself asking ladies… have you had your mammogram yet this year? I look forward to seeing the rest of the video’s on MaryEllens journey as our family hugs her, and prays for her- even through the miles.

    Her Texas sister,


  3. Pat Hardesty Says:

    I appreciate the voice you have given about breast cancer. I was hoping for general information and not just how Mayo handled it.

    It has been almost two years, since I have gone through the diagnosis. My primary care doctor was wonderful. He want’ed to call me at home, so by the time he called me I assumed it was bad news. He had made the surgeon appointment and told me to give my husband a hug.

    There are many places to find great treatment and concerned professionals.

    • Julie Janovsky-Mason Says:

      Hi Pat,
      Thank you for watching episode one in the multi-part video series.
      In the coming episodes, there will be more detailed information about topics such as chemotherapy and genetic counseling.
      If you have any questions, please let us know.

  4. Ron Reffitt Jr Says:

    MaryElllen this is wonderful and I totally agree. Mayo is unsurpassed in the quality of people and level of care for those of us in immediate need. As a patient that had a rare form of cancer inside my heart my story is very similar with wonderful results. It’s been 22 months since my open heart surgery to remove a malignant tumor and 16 months since treatment has ended, thankfully I’m alive, cancer free and doing well.

    I wish you the best!

    Ron Reffitt Jr.

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