Meet Breast Cancer Survivor and Creator: Jessica Shephard

Jessica Shephard’s instagram is decorated with photos of her kids, recipes, family events, and travels. But every now and then, her photos show glimpses into her personal history as well: mammograms and doctor appointments to check that her cancer remains in remission. Diagnosed at 31 with breast cancer, Jessica initially used her social media to update friends and family on her cancer battle, but in the process connected with other survivors to form a community of encouragement. She shares with us about being a breast cancer survivor and creator.

Q: What led you to become a creator?

It happened organically. Like many, I started with simply posting about everyday events and moments. Eventually, I started getting requests for product reviews and campaign invitations. Once companies started seeing the value in “micro-influencers”, I joined platforms such as Social Native.

Q; What is your favorite part of the content creation process?

I love brainstorming and coming up with concepts & different ideas for content. I also love the satisfaction of seeing the finished product and interacting with my audience for the campaign/post.

Q: Tell us about how you involve your husband and kids in your content creation.

I love bouncing off ideas with my oldest daughter. She tells me what she thinks and doesn’t hold back, lol. I truly value and appreciate her opinion. I love when I can create content with my kids and family. My youngest really has fun trying out the products and “helping Mommy with her video”. I haven’t involved my husband in a campaign yet, but I would love to! He’s also been a great partner when coming up with ideas.

Q: What drew you to working as a creator with Social Native specifically? 

I love that they were one of the first to welcome micro-influencers such as myself. They are prompt with responding to emails and have been truly helpful when I have questions. 

Q: What was your favorite campaign that you have worked on with Social Native and why?

It would definitely be the Mondelez campaign. (Although looking at the post you wouldn’t think much of it) My Mom, daughter and I were making fun desserts using Oreos and Ritz. It was such a natural and normal activity that we always do. Especially my daughter, who since she was a toddler, has always loved to be in the kitchen with Mom baking goodies.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered or had to overcome in your journey of being a Creator?

Worrying about what people think, especially in the beginning! If I’m being 100% honest, it’s still something that I struggle with sometimes. 

Q: Has there been a moment in your career as a creator when you felt you made an impact?

I’d like to think so. I think anytime we weave our struggles and vulnerabilities into our content, it’s an opportunity to touch at least one person. 

Q: Obviously any fight against cancer is highly intense and personal. What’s your take on the Pros and Cons of sharing this journey on social media?

It started as a way to update friends and family because the text messages were just too much to keep up with. It was emotionally draining. Personally, there were more positives to sharing my journey. It was INCREDIBLY wonderful to connect with other survivors when I was first diagnosed. I was only 31 with a husband and 4 year old daughter. At the time I felt alone, but sharing my journey on social media was instrumental in finding other survivors my age. Since then I have made some life-long friendships, but I’ve also grieved for the many young lives that succumbed to breast cancer. 

I also want to add, there are times when a break from social and talking about cancer was needed. 

Q: How did you make the decision to share your own cancer history with your followers? What response have you seen from your followers? 

I know that sharing my journey will help other newly diagnosed women. As a survivor-creator, I want to be that hope on the other side of this long and exhausting journey. My goal is for them to know that there’s another young Mom with kids, a career, and Husband who is going through the exact same thing. The response is always encouraging and I honestly can’t think of one instance where there was a negative response.

Q: What’s one thing you would like everyone to learn and become aware of during Breast Cancer Awareness month?

Do your research on which organizations you chose to donate to.  Consider donating to smaller nonprofits who directly help those diagnosed with breast cancer. Many non-profits directly cover expenses for reconstruction surgery, temporary housing, medical bills and even wigs. 

Q: How can sponsors, followers, and other creators show support in the online-sphere to someone going through a cancer battle? 

I love what Social Native is doing. Giving us a platform to share and educate others does more than just wearing pink on the football field. I also think it’s SO  important to raise awareness for other non-profits who directly help those going through cancer. 

 “I want to be that hope on the other side of this long and exhausting journey. I want them to know that there’s another young Mom with kids, a career, and Husband who is going through the exact same thing.” – @rebelsoulmom

Jessica recommends the following non-profits for supporting breast cancer warriors and their families:

Little Pink Houses of Hope (provide retreats, & vacations to families & those going through treatments who can’t otherwise afford it)

AiRS Foundation, My Hope Chest (provide grants so woman can have breast reconstruction without the cost burden)

Family Reach (provides emergency financial relief to cancer patients)

The SamFund (provides grants to young adult cancer survivors)

Living Beyond Breast Cancer (provides information, resources and community)

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