Marshall ISD employee pens memoir about sobriety, cancer
Nov. 4, 2016 at 4 a.m.
Marshall ISD employee Laura Shepperd has traveled a hard road throughout the past several years and the now sober Marshall mom and wife is sharing her story in hopes it might give someone else hope.
"This book focuses on the cure. The reason I wanted to write it, and not focus on the years I spent drinking and instead focus more on me getting sober, is because this is a book about hope," Shepperd said.
"Alcoholism is a disease but you can overcome this and there's a lot of people out there who want to help you."
Shepperd said she began socially drinking at parties in college and like most bad habits, it progressed through the years.
"I had three children and I was able to stop each time with them but it got worse when they all grew up and left home," she said. "My family and friends knew I had a problem and wanted me to get better but they never pressured me. I was working and functioning but I was extremely unhappy. Drinking doesn't fix anything or make anything better."
Shepperd decided to check herself into an inpatient rehab facility, La Hacienda Treatment Center down in Hunt.
"I had my daughter drive me down there to drop me off at rehab," Shepperd said.
"Occasionally, a wave of panic would rush in, and my organs felt like separate living beings, wriggling against each other inside my shell," Shepperd writes of the drive down to the facility. "I would lean over with my head between my knees and mash my fingers against my temples really hard, and an involuntary low, breathy moan would come out of me."
Shepperd said she chose to enter that particular rehab facility on her own because she knew a friend who had gone there and because she was ready to get help.
"Rehab was a positive, great experience for me," Shepperd said. "It was not just the rehab but the people there that came together to get help. I have a different, joyful life now. I'm very happy and content."
Shepperd has now been sober since her return home from rehab in 2011.
"It took me four years to write the book," she said. "I want to give hope to others who are stuck in an addiction. This whole journey to sobriety has been a spiritual awakening for me. It was a huge growth period for me and I met so many amazing people in rehab."
Just days after publishing her book this spring, Shepperd was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I definitely think overcoming my addiction helped me deal with breast cancer," Shepperd said. "My faith is so strong. My faith grew so much in rehab. When I was diagnosed, I knew God was with me and I would be OK no matter what."
Shepperd said she is now cancer free.
"It really all is a 'God thing'," she said. "As far as I know I'm cancer free. I finished my radiation treatments in July. It was just a precaution. They got all of the cancer when they did my surgery."
Shepperd stressed the importance for women to get annual breast examinations.
"The cancer was spotted on my annual mammogram," she said. "They caught it, did surgery, and radiation and now I'm healthy and happy. I was very blessed."
Shepperd said her family was initially a little hesitant when they heard she would be writing a book about her journey to sobriety but once they realized the purpose, they were all on board.
"My family is excited for me," she said. "They're happy to have me back and they recognized the purpose of the book. It's hard at first, writing something so personal but it's a good way to process everything."
Shepperd said her memoir is relatable because it is raw and honest.
"Once I started writing it as if nobody would ever see it, it became much easier and much more honest," she said.
The paperback edition costs $10.99 and the electronic edition costs $8.99.