Judy with Dr, Vincent Tuohy at the Cleveland Clinic
I am honored to serve as Research Advocate and Editor in Chief of my dear friend's foundation, the Toni Turchi Foundation
In 2016 I was selected by Ford and still serve today
Warrior in Pink
My journey began on December 29, 2008 with a phone call from the hospital advising me that I had "flunked" my mammogram. In the months that followed, I would undergo two biopsies, a double mastectomy and "immediate" reconstruction. I was naive but soon found out that "immediate" meant the process would begin immediately but would actually consume a year of my life. I refer to 2009 as my Annus Horribilis..thank you Queen Elizabeth for this term.
During that long year, I keep a journal and dedicated myself to researching diet and lifestyle changes that other survivors had adopted to prevent recurrence. This journal would later become my book, A Teachers Journey, What Breast Cancer Taught Me.
My research would lead me to an amazing research effort at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. VIncent K. Tuohy had developed a preventive breast cancer vaccine that had proven 100% effective in mice. So why wasn't this available to women? I would soon discover that Dr. Tuohy could not get the funds needed to begin clinical trials. Research funds were readily available for treatment but not for prevention. Convincing the establishment that prevention was possible had not been an easy task.
Discovering that prevention could be possible after the horrific year I had just endured, made me furious. I knew I had to do something. I called Dr. Tuohy's office and became an active advocate for Dr. Tuohy's research. Finally after more than ten years of research, in September of 2017 Dr. Tuohy was awarded a six million dollar grant to conduct phase one clinical trials of the vaccine. It will start by being tested on the most lethal form of breast cancer, triple negative. I am now serving as a consumer advocate on the vaccine trial which is to begin in mid 2019.
I also have the honor to serve as a consumer advocate for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Grant Program. I enjoy being an active blogger on social media and connecting with fellow survivors living with NED (No Evidence Of Disease). As the majority of research funds presently available for women’s cancers are still earmarked for treatment, I am now dedicated to obtaining support from Congress for a “Women’s Health Initiative for Prevention of Disease”. Such a program would allocate specific funds to support research for the prevention of women’s cancers.
My background is that I graduated from Providence College with a BS in Chemistry, and served as a science, math and computer teacher until my retirement in 2008. In 2015, I was selected by Ford Motor Company as a “Warrior in Pink”. I have also joined my dear friend , Toni Turchi in the re-launch of her foundation which provides financial assistance to our sisters fighting breast cancer. I serve as the research advocate and editor in chief for her website.