Local News

Story published: 04-03-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Judy Gwinn shares her story of faith and surviving cancer twice


By Lacy Hilliard

The person last featured in The Tomahawk’s Survivor Series was Judy Davis. If you read the previous edition, you would know that those closest to Davis refer to her as ‘a walking miracle.’ Perhaps ironically, there’s another Johnson County resident named Judy that can boast a miracle of survival of her very own.

Judy Gwinn, a resident of Neva, received devastating news on her 54th birthday; on January 22, 2004 Gwinn was told that she had colorectal cancer. There are over 130,000 cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in the United States each year; a typically asymptomatic cancer, doctors recommend that men and women begin receiving preventative yearly screenings beginning at age 50. Judy was diagnosed in stage three and her doctor knew that immediate and aggressive action would be necessary. Her doctor immediately recommended a course of 33 radiation treatments as well as a surgical procedure. Overwhelmed and in shock from the diagnosis, Judy and her husband Dave drove home from Judy’s appointment with the burden of a traumatic unknown that had just taken root in their otherwise happy lives. “I was stunned and didn’t know what to do. Dave and I cried all the way home. It was devastating,” said Judy of her cancer diagnosis. Though the news took them by surprise, the couple immediately decided to fight together against the life threatening diagnosis.

When Judy arrived home she was faced with the difficult task of bestowing her children with the troublesome news. Her sons, Keith Gwinn and Carroll Chappell, and her daughter-in-law, Teresa Chappell, reacted with sadness but also with an immediate vow of unwavering support. Her brother, Jack Warren, and her in-laws were also ready and willing to provide support in Judy’s time of need. The family made a conscious decision together to put Judy’s fate “into the hands of the Lord” and with that, they began the fight together, with faith and love as their ammunition.

The treatment schedule was set for 33 radiation treatments in seven weeks and the side effects took their toll on Judy almost immediately. “I didn’t think much about how to beat cancer (while I was going through the treatments) because I was so sick all of the time,” said Judy. She went on to say that had it not been for the support of her family throughout her treatments, she wouldn’t have made it through. During this time, Judy was forced to endure a 22-day hospital stay and was also in a post-surgical medically-induced coma for nine days at which time her doctors doubted her recovery and began to prepare her family for the worst.

It wasn’t until after the rounds of radiation that Judy made a conscious decision to fight for her life. In 2007 Judy and her family heard the words they’d all been longing to hear since the start of her battle, “You’re in remission,” Judy was told by her doctors but unbeknownst to her, she would be forced relive the nightmare of a cancer diagnosis in just a few short years prior to the news of her remission.

In October of 2012, during a routine checkup, Judy began experiencing symptoms that immediately alarmed her. After informing her doctor of her symptoms, she was referred to a specialist for an ultrasound and a biopsy. The diagnostic procedures confirmed that Judy was experiencing the symptoms of stage 1B uterine cancer. Following the diagnosis, Judy’s doctor began to form a treatment plan that would require yet another surgery and more radiation therapy, trials all too well known to Judy and her family.

For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.