Cancer survivor returns to annual Jodi’s Race to walk for hope, fellowship

Goldenite Corner

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/17/22

Judy Sherman wasn’t about to let cancer stop her from missing one of her favorite events of the year.

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Cancer survivor returns to annual Jodi’s Race to walk for hope, fellowship

Goldenite Corner

Posted

Judy Sherman wasn’t about to let cancer stop her from missing one of her favorite events of the year.

She went to her June 10 chemotherapy appointment, and the next day, she walked a mile with her fellow ovarian cancer survivors.

About 1,500 people participating in the 13th annual Jodi’s Race June 11 at Denver’s City Park. The event raises awareness for ovarian cancer and is the biggest fundraiser for the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, which provides emotional and financial support for cancer patients and survivors.

This year’s race is will raise about $250,000, organizers said June 15.

Sherman, who lives in Golden, was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2018 and participated in her first Jodi’s Race in June 2019. After not being able to participate in-person in 2020 and 2021, she was excited to return.

During Jodi’s Race, survivors receive Mardi Gras-style beads — one strand for every year since their diagnosis. This year, Sherman sported four.

“It’s an affirmation that I am a survivor,” Sherman said. “… (The event) continues to make me feel that there’s hope. It’s a very insidious disease.”

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is fifth in cancer deaths among women. It accounts for about 13,000 deaths annually — more than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Every year, almost 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Sherman summarized it as a relatively rare form of cancer, but a deadly one, saying, “The survival rates are improving, but it’s still really bad.”

When she was first diagnosed in October 2018, Sherman said her life was turned upside down. While other friends got her through the initial shock, she eventually found COCA, which connected her with resources, support groups and other survivors. These people and resources became her support system through her initial cancer diagnosis and two recurrences.

“I walk in (Jodi’s Race) and raise money to support COCA because they support me,” Sherman continued. “It’s a great experience to be in a support group with other women who are living with this disease. Not just existing, but living — and there is a difference.”

Persevering and thriving

Jeanene Smith, the race director and a 23-year ovarian cancer survivor, said Sherman has a very positive and resilient attitude. She’s a very good self-advocate, working hard to find the best possible outcome for herself.

Sherman said the key to her attitude is always looking forward and not looking back. If she has a bad day, she takes a nap. If she has a good day, she takes a nap. She doesn’t have the stamina she used to, but she tries to stay active.

Ultimately, she tries to stay active, and always looks forward and never backward.

“Every morning I have a choice: am I going to get up, or am I going to stay in bed?" Sherman said. "… I try to maintain a positive attitude. Ultimately, this disease will kill me, but I’m not going to die tomorrow.”

While she is a very goal-oriented person, she’s also learned to be gentle with herself. There are days when she can’t do much, “and that’s OK too,” Sherman continued.

Being involved with COCA, becoming a mentor for women who’ve just been diagnosed, and bonding with other survivors has become a critical support system for Sherman. It’s helped keep her going, she said.

Like Sherman, Smith felt that COCA, its support groups and Jodi’s Race have become critical opportunities to build fellowship and instill hope among survivors.

Moreover, Jodi’s Race has become a powerful event in raising awareness about the disease, Smith said. If people know the symptoms and risk factors, it’s possible they might catch it early.

While the next Jodi’s Race is a year away, Sherman has lots she wants to do before she gets her fifth strand of beads. And, when she does, it’ll be another victory lap and source of hope for her and her fellow survivors.

“It’s lovely to be there and see all the women with lots of beads,” Sherman continued. “(It shows) there’s life, there’s survivorship, and … there’s hope. As long as I can do things, I’m going to do them.”

For more information about ovarian cancer, including the symptoms, visit cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer.

For more information about COCA or to donate to Jodi’s Race, visit jodisrace.org.

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