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Ex-California congresswoman who survived Jonestown says she has cancer

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A former California congresswoman who survived being shot five times during the Jonestown massacre in Guyana announced this week that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Former Rep. Jackie Speier, who represented San Mateo County and San Francisco from 2008 to 2021, posted on the social media platform X on Thursday about her diagnosis.

“I just became one of the 300,000 women per year who are diagnosed with breast cancer,” the politician wrote. “The good news is that it was discovered early and I had a successful lumpectomy on Tuesday.”

Speier said she nearly skipped her annual mammogram due to a packed summer schedule, but then decided to go, which led to the cancer diagnosis.

“The lesson here is, please be diligent about your own screenings and don’t skip them,” she wrote.

Speier was an aide to then-Rep. Leo J. Ryan in 1978 when members of the Jonestown settlement opened fire on them as they attempted to leave Guyana for the United States following a visit there. Speier’s boss was among those killed, but she survived five gunshot wounds.

As a congresswoman, Speier was an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights and spoke in a 2011 speech on the House floor about the abortion she had.

Before serving in Congress, Speier was a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the state Legislature.





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