think this is the only picture taken of us during my treatment…it lives on my husband’s desk to this day. At this point, we had just found out I was in remission…we knew I was going to make it.”
When things get tough, Judy Parnitzke knows exactly what to do – she takes it to the dock. “In our family, every worry, every argument ends up here at our dock. Problems are diminished when there are three miles of water around you,” she explains.
It was no different nine years ago when Judy learned she had cervical cancer. “Every conversation we had about the diagnosis, the treatment, the fear, all of it – we fought it right here where I’m standing today. When you’re out here, everything seems possible.”
Determined to fight the fight her own way, Judy put her trust in God, her gynecologic oncologist, Stephen Buckley, and Ackerman Cancer Center’s own Scot Ackerman. Unlike many in her position, she didn’t feel the need to research her diagnosis or flood her mind with information. “Each of us is unique and I’m a natural helper-bee. Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I trust the professionals in my life, from plumber to doctors. I’m not skeptical, you have to earn my distrust.” Now in remission, she knows she was right to follow her instincts and her doctors’ recommendations.
However, Judy’s data scientist, management consultant husband, Jim, wasn’t so content to just go with the flow. Away on a business trip when Judy received the diagnosis, Jim returned home immediately, armed with a thick file of research documents.
“God love him. This smart, professional man who thrives on knowledge would call and text my doctors daily with questions. I couldn’t squelch his concern, only they could, and that’s just what they did. The wonderful people at Ackerman Cancer Center brought Jim back for everything and really made him part of the team. That is what helped me the most.”
It was Jim and her son, Ryan, who served as Judy’s 24-hour caregivers throughout treatment, along with lots of moral support from her daughter Lauran, who was away at school at the time. And that service did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by Judy. “The caregivers are the ones who really fight the battle. If their loved one survives, they rejoice – but with scars. If not, they wonder what more they could have done.”
These days, Judy does what she can to help others facing similar health challenges. A lifelong seamstress, she now dedicates her time to designing hospital gowns and making quilts for Alzheimer’s patients, which she gives away.
“Instead of celebrating my final treatment or remission, I celebrate the day I was diagnosed, because it changed my life for the best. I walked out that day with rose-colored glasses. My priorities became black and white and I don’t even see the unimportant things anymore.”
To learn more about treatment options at Ackerman Cancer Center, please click here to contact our Patient Coordinator, or call (904) 880-5522.