Judy with Dr, Vincent Tuohy at the Cleveland Clinic
Judy's journey began on December 29, 2008 with a phone call from the hospital advising her of an "area of concern" on her mammogram. In the months that followed, she would undergo two biopsies, a double mastectomy and "immediate" reconstruction. She was naive but soon found out that "immediate" meant the process would begin immediately but would actually consume a year of her life.
During that long year, Judy kept a journal and dedicated herself to researching diet and lifestyle changes that other survivors had adopted to prevent recurrence. This journal would later become her book, A Teachers Journey, What Breast Cancer Taught Me.
Her research on prevention led her to an amazing research effort at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic under the direction of Dr. Vincent Tuohy. Dr. Tuohy had developed a preventive vaccine that had proven 100% effective in preventing breast cancer in mice. So why wasn't this available to women? She would soon discover that a lack of funding was the sole obstacle to clinical trials. At that time, research funds were readily available for treatment, but not for prevention.
Finding funding for this vaccine became Judy's mission. She would fundraise, write letters, become extremely active on social media, and even lobby Congress. Finally after more than twenty years of research, in September of 2017 Dr. Tuohy was awarded a six million dollar grant by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Grant Program to conduct phase one clinical trials for his vaccine. The trial is in progress and is now being tested on the most lethal form of breast cancer, triple negative. Judy now serves as a consumer advocate on the vaccine trial. Following the lobby efforts that Judy chaired, Dr. Tuohy also recently received a grant for further development of his ovarian cancer vaccine through the newly funded, NCI's Prevent Program.
Judy is also a consumer advocate for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Grant Program, NIH/NCI and a Komen Advocate in Science. She graduated from Providence College with a BS in Chemistry, and served as a science, math and computer teacher both in England and Rhode Island until her retirement in 2007. In 2015, she was selected by Ford Motor Company as a “Warrior in Pink”. Judy is also a dedicated wife, mother and grandmother and her grandchildren are her greatest joy. Her dream is to imagine a world without breast and ovarian cancers. She believes this is the greatest legacy she can leave her children.