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Mass. Marine Trying To Get Home For Cancer Treatment

12/6 Follow up: Donor comes forward

BOSTON (CBS) -- So many times has Jessica Shepherd helped others, says her mother: as a flight crew chief for Marine helicopters in Iraq and more recently at Costal Carolina Community College where she's been helping veterans get through school and into jobs.

WBZ-TV's Ron Sanders reports.

Now, Jessica has a rare and aggressive form of esophageal cancer; tumors have fractured her spine and she needs a private flight to Boston for treatment because she could not stand the vibration of a helicopter or a regular commercial flight.

But her mother says insurance won't cover it and their family can't afford the flight which could cost nearly $20,000.

Jessica Shepherd and family
Jessica Shelherd with her husband Marine Staff Sgt. Brandon Shepherd and son Keegan (credit: Shepherd family)

"She'd be furious that I'm asking for help for her. She would never ask for help for herself. She's one of those doers. She goes out and gets it done. But she's in a hospital bed now," said Diana Buckley, whose daughter is in a Jacksonville, North Carolina hospital as her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Brandon Shepherd who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is taking care of their four-month-son Keegan.

"She's my baby. She's my baby," said Buckley choking back tears. Jessica's mother said her daughter, a Lexington High School and Northeastern University graduate, enlisted in the Marines before telling her parents and served from 2003 until 2008, rescuing Hurricane Katrina victims as well as deploying to Iraq.

Her best friend Lauren Floro is reaching out for help to get her treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. "It's just heartbreaking that money is an issue in it," said Floro.

Diana Buckley said she thinks about the many times her daughter helped Marine helicopters safely get in and out of danger and darkness and now she hopes someone will do the same for Jessica.

"She's always been patriotic, loving, loyal to her friends and family and you would expect only the best to come her way," said Buckley in her Londonderry, New Hampshire home.

The family was in the process of setting up a web site and a fund for people who want to help. Until then, relatives said anyone who wanted to help could send an e-mail to or call 617-942-1560.


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