Years ago, after Sheehan had won a case,
a juror told her he found it disrespectful and
distracting that she rolled her eyes when a
plaintiff’s witness was testifying. “I wasn’t
even aware I was doing it,” she says. “It was
a lesson I pass on to young attorneys. We
might think the testimony is ridiculous, but
we’re not the jurors. When you’re in a trial—
from the moment you park your car, you’re
in the cafeteria, or—the jurors are watching
you. You need to treat everything with
respect and dignity.”
IN THE FALL OF 2005, SHEEHAN WAS
diagnosed with breast cancer. “Like all
Virgo women, I studiously went for my
mammogram checkup,” she says. She
underwent surgery and four months of
chemo in 2006.
“Losing my hair was the easy part,” she
says. “It was weirder losing my eyebrows.”
She suffered from “chemo brain.” She
would lie in bed dully staring at TV, couldn’t
remember things, and couldn’t understand
material she read. She was 48 years old.
“I wondered if I was ever going to get
my cognition and organization skills back,”
By September of that year, she had
enough hair—she describes it as “a
Demi Moore crew cut”—that she felt
comfortable appearing in public without
a hat. “I knew I had to get back in the
saddle,” she says. She started with
an easy case. “Virgo makes lists and
prepares,” she says. “I doubly and triply
After the trial, which she won, she and
her husband went on a trip to Hawaii. Flying
back to Sacramento, she had a strange
feeling. When she reached the airport, she
decided to continue on to Virginia, where
she spent five days with her father, who had
developed cancer the same year as she did.
Soon afterward, he died.
“I believe in gut instinct, or whatever you
call it, and treasure those last five days I
had with him,” she says.
Though Sheehan works hard, she
tries to spend as much time as possible
traveling with her husband and skiing
with her stepson and her granddaughters.
She also counsels other women who are
battling breast cancer.