Survivorship is as much a state of mind as it is a state of physical health – and sometimes that means living with another recurrence of cancer.
That’s were Judy Brandeberry finds herself today, though you would never guess it. Her spirit and strength are contagious.
She was first diagnosed with stage III HER2 breast cancer in January 2007. A tumor in her breast, as well as 20 lymph nodes were taken out. She then underwent 33 rounds of radiation and started taking the medication Herceptin. In July 2008, pericarditis caused by the Herceptin further threatened her health. Pericarditis is a condition where fluid builds up surrounding the heart and lungs. She spent six days in the hospital recovering.
With great relief, Judy entered remission. But two years later, in 2010, a tumor in her lung metastasized to other parts of her body. Today, she lives with lung cancer, bone cancer and congestive heart failure, and receives care at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital. Despite all odds, this survivor’s attitude is remarkable.
Judy explains, “I have a good outlook on life. I don’t question anything. God has a plan for me.”
What is Judy’s secret to survivorship? She continues moving forward and keeps a mile-long bucket list. The advice she offers to others diagnosed with cancer, “Always think of the positive side. Don’t stop. Stay busy and plan ahead.”
She also takes advantage of support programs for survivors. For example, she sought physical therapy through ProMedica’s STAR Program®, a physical rehab program designed especially for cancer patients. The program helped her regain movement in her hip after a tumor was removed. It also helps many patients manage the fatigue often caused by chemotherapy treatment.
“STAR worked for me and made me stronger,” she says.
Judy enjoys making people laugh, especially fellow patients. She has been known to arrive to chemotherapy sessions dressed up in costumes, funny hats and wigs.
“I have helped a lot of people and they have helped me. If I can help just one person, I am happy,” explains Judy.
Her survivorship journey continues as she celebrates the birth of her newest grandchild in August, a recent Amish bus trip, and next year – a Disney Cruise! She wants to see all 14 of her grandchildren graduate and doesn’t miss a chance to shop or enjoy great conversation with loved ones.
And she recently received some great news: Judy has been approved to receive a brand-new, FDA-approved, “wonder drug” chemotherapy treatment.
“I have so much to live for,” Judy says.
Are you or a loved one a cancer survivor? Learn more about ProMedica’s Cancer Survivor Program.
Receive more cancer-related stories, as well as healthy living advice and recipes by signing up for our Friends for Life newsletter.