Meet Sheila McGlown

Sheila McGlown is a mother, wife and 25-year veteran of the United States Air Force.

While at work in the fall of 2009, Sheila sneezed and experienced a burning sensation near her breast. She went to her military doctor who, after performing a breast exam, ordered a mammogram. In December, after a mammogram and subsequent ultrasound, Sheila was diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer (mBC) at the age of 43. De novo mBC means the breast cancer is metastatic at initial diagnosis. In the U.S., approximately six percent of women are diagnosed with de novo mBC.

For Sheila, the fight against breast cancer goes beyond her personal battle with the disease: her mother passed away from mBC in 2004 and Sheila now says, "My life is never about me anymore, it's all about who I can help." Since her diagnosis, Sheila has retired from the military and has become active within the breast cancer community. One of the main goals of her advocacy work is to raise awareness of the disease and make sure others know that mBC can affect anyone, regardless of their race or age.

In 2013, Sheila joined Living Beyond Breast Cancer's Youth Advocate Volunteer outreach program. This program provides resources and training to help young women use their personal experience living with breast cancer to make a difference in their communities by raising awareness, educating about the disease and advocating for support. Sheila was recognized by Living Beyond Breast Cancer with their 2017 Hear My Voice Award for the advocacy work she has done supporting people living with mBC.

Sheila says she never thought she would find love with mBC but was happily surprised when she met her husband after she was diagnosed. The two have been married since 2016. In addition to her husband, Sheila has a strong support network that helps her through her mBC journey, including her best friends, sisters, aunts and the many people she has met through her advocacy work – including Story Half Told Founding Member, Beth Fairchild.

Photographed by Esther Havens

Sheila McGlown is a mother, wife and 25-year veteran of the United States Air Force.

While at work in the fall of 2009, Sheila sneezed and experienced a burning sensation near her breast. She went to her military doctor who, after performing a breast exam, ordered a mammogram. In December, after a mammogram and subsequent ultrasound, Sheila was diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer (mBC) at the age of 43.

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Sheila shares her journey living with mBC.

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Having a good relationship with your team of doctors makes such a big impact on how you deal with your mBC diagnosis.

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Sheila stands proud as she reflects on her 25 years of service in the United States Air Force.

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After an mBC diagnosis, each birthday celebrated with family is always a blessing.

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On some days it's hard to smile, let alone laugh. That's why moments like these with people you love are to be cherished forever.

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Sheila maintains open and honest conversations with her daughter, Janaia. Janaia knows her risk of developing breast cancer – but is armed with the power of knowledge thanks to her mother.

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The idea of having fun and letting loose after an mBC diagnosis can seem laughable to some. But, it's actually very important, now more than ever.

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Honoring her late mother, Sheila keeps her hair cut short with the help of her godbrother and barber, Darrick.

mBC Fact: Not all people living with cancer lose their hair!

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Sheila reflects on her decision to elect for breast reconstruction after her mastectomy, the experience she had with her doctor and the impact it had on her life.

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Small activities, like walks in the park with a friend, are therapeutic and essential. Even on the hard days, Sheila always tries to remain active.

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Sheila kicks off an incredible family reunion weekend with a family dance off. Family is an essential pillar for support.

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Sheila finds comfort and solace from the love and support of her pastor, Kendall Granger, and first lady, Wyvetta.

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Sometimes the smallest things, like a pretty black dress and a little bit of makeup, can help you feel more beautiful – even though you already are!

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The realities of mBC aren't filled with pink ribbons and a good prognosis. Women and men living with mBC will go through treatment for the remainder of their lives.

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Sheila tries not to let the little things get her down. She pushes herself through the hard times and counts her blessings.