In 2008, Judy underwent hip surgery to correct a labral tear and noticed some of her fellow patients seemed to be recovering more quickly than she was.
She started experiencing pain on the back of her thigh and soon learned a tumor had developed. Her life changed in an instant when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Judy underwent an intense course of chemotherapy for two years and remained on crutches for the duration of her treatment. Her surgeon, Dr. Ross Wilkins, believed he could save her leg by using a donated bone in place of her own.
In the midst of chemotherapy, Dr. Wilkins removed the tumor from Judy’s leg and replaced eight inches of her femur with bone from a deceased human donor.
Because chemotherapy can interfere with bone healing, Judy ended up needing a revision surgery and received additional tissue in the repair procedure.
After completing treatment, Judy, her kids and her mother took a trip to Costa Rica.
“I dreamed about getting all the way to the water’s edge, but my crutches sank in the sand and I couldn’t get all the way down to the beach,” she said. “I still took a photo with the water in the distance, and I sent the photo to Dr. Wilkins. It was a great accomplishment for me just to be there, and I wanted to share that with the man that made it happen.”
The following year, she took another trip to the beach and was able to finally put her toes in the sand.
“I took a picture of my toes all sandy and the crystal blue water in the background,” Judy shared. “I keep that picture on display in my house so I am always reminded to be thankful for my leg, my medical team and my donor.”
Because of this life-changing experience, Judy is now an advocate for tissue donation. Her young children learned about tissue donation at an early age, having watched their mother’s recovery process.
Judy honors her donor by donating time to The Limb Preservation Foundation and Donor Alliance to share her story of healing and hope. She expressed, in her own words, what she would say to her donor if she could.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to keep my leg. Thank you for letting me put my ten toes in the sand. Thank you for the chance to play tennis and take a tap dance class. I have loved the chance to travel and run around with my children. Because of you, I am here living this life, and I can’t thank you enough.”