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A Patient-Turned Advocate for the Pancreatic Cancer Community
Written By Julia Brabant
October 24, 2020
Judy Green Diagnosed: January 2016
Status: No Visible Signs of Cancer October 24, 2020
While its primary purpose is to generate funding that advances pancreatic cancer research, the Seena Magowitz Foundation also makes a point to share the stories of the people battling the disease and those who’ve been instrumental in the fight against it. In the rare case of California’s Judy Green, she’s proven herself both a hard-fighting patient and a tireless advocate for the cause.
It’s a cause near and dear to their hearts, as Judy received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in early 2016 following what she thought was a severe bout of the flu. Instead, Judy learned she had Stage 3 locally advanced pancreatic cancer after doctors noticed her liver enzymes were too high. Subsequent tests showed that her liver was not the issue, but rather, a mass on her pancreas, which physicians ultimately deemed inoperable.
At this point, Judy told her husband she’d need a second opinion. Her son was an employee of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York, and her oncologist in California welcomed the idea of her going there for another assessment. Once there, her doctor had a much different outlook.
“You’re going to begin the fight of your life,” he’d told her, and she soon returned to California to begin the first in a series of 49 FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy treatments with her New York doctor continuing to review her scans from afar. During the course of her treatment, Judy met another pancreatic cancer patient, Camille Moses, at the Miami Dolphins’ Cancer Challenge. A fast friendship developed between the two as they became increasingly involved with the pancreatic cancer community by serving as advocates and sources of support for patients, and Judy credits Camille with being the first person who ever made her truly feel as if she could beat the disease.
Through Camille, Judy met Seena Magowitz Foundation Founder and CEO Roger Magowitz, and through Roger, she met Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, one of the world’s most prolific pancreatic cancer researchers and the Physician-in-Chief of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN). At his urging, she underwent genetic testing to see if her children and sister were at a heightened risk of pancreatic or other cancers and felt relief when the tests revealed they were not.
Now, nearly five years later, Judy is no longer undergoing chemo thanks to stability in her scans. She still has scans every four, five or six months, but has not received any active treatment since April of 2018. However, she continues to advocate on behalf of pancreatic cancer patients, making a point to remind them to have hope when it seems there isn’t any.
“When I communicate with patients, I always end my emails with BELIEVE in all caps,” she said. She also expressed her gratitude for Roger Magowitz and explained her and her husband’s decision to donate a portion of their company’s profits to the cause.
“Roger has been a huge inspiration – I have so much respect for what he does,” she said. “This is a cancer that just doesn’t get the same amount of attention as the others, and he’s making major strides toward changing that.”
Judy continues to help in any way she can, and sharing her story is one step in the process. “When I was diagnosed, all I could think was, ‘I’m never going to meet my grandchildren,” she said.
Today, she’s the proud grandmother of a 2-and-a-half-year-old grandson and a 6-month-old granddaughter, and she credits her family with giving her the strength and hope she needed to get where she is – and the strength and hope that she now passes on to others.
“My family was a great source of support,” she said. “They were the ones making sure I always believed, and that I always had something to look forward to.”