In the spring of 2000 Judi Gordon believed herself to be healthy. She was living a full life with her husband and two grown children. Judi had recently returned to the field of social work after many years in business and was energized by her position as the Administrator of a Geriatric Mental Health Clinic.
Around this time, Judi noticed that "something felt different," but only in a minor way. Fortunately, Judi had a physician who not only examined her immediately, but also listened attentively as she described her symptoms. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer came as a total shock. It was a rare type, Malignant Mixed Mesodermal Tumor, also known as carcinosarcoma of the ovary. The prognosis was poor and there was no standard treatment.
Judi received very aggressive treatment, undergoing surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Today, Judi remains cancer free. She has seen both her children marry and, along with working part-time, babysits for her two grandchildren. Judi reflects that she has seen first-hand that most women with this disease have not been as lucky as she has been. She believes that as a survivor in good health she must be a voice for those women she has met in the last ten years who have died or who are fighting for their lives. By educating and empowering herself as an advocate for those with ovarian cancer, Judi is helping on both the personal and the community levels.
When her treatment ended, Judi began volunteering at SHARE: Self Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer. She has volunteered on the ovarian hotline and facilitated a support group for women with ovarian cancer. In 2008, Judi was one of the speakers from SHARE at a plenary session at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' Annual meeting bringing the patient's perspective on diagnosis, treatment, recurrence, hope, and end of life.
She is also actively involved with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), attending all their advocacy conferences since 2002. Judi has participated in OCNA's "Survivors Teaching Students Program," speaking at medical schools in the New York City metropolitan area since the program began in 2002. While participating in OCNA's leadership training in 2003 and 2004, she became interested in participating as a consumer with the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP).
As a consumer reviewer, Judi will participate in OCRP Programmatic Review and Vision Setting meetings. She hopes to be an advocate for other women whose lives have been touched by this disease and to remind those in the scientific community who are involved in research of the impact their work has on so many of us.