Judy Wevers Bode ’82 needs a new heart. The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are clear about that, and her name is on a transplant list. She’s confident in God’s care and keeping and ready for the surgery.
But she does have some unfinished business that fills her days of waiting: Spreading the news about how childhood cancer treatments can weaken the patient’s heart in later years.
Through the Cleveland Clinic, Bode was introduced to Stephanie Zimmerman. There the two women discovered that they were both survivors of childhood cancer—Bode of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Zimmerman of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Bode survived two more bouts of cancer, a direct result of the first radiation treatment. Both women studied nursing and had positions in the field of oncology.
“It soon became evident in our many long-distance calls that we were introduced to each other for a reason,” wrote Bode.
That reason is what’s behind the educational organization my Heart, your Hands, Inc. (MHYH), founded by the two women. MHYH educates the families and the medical community of childhood cancer survivors about the rates of later heart disease.
The MHYH site states that “accurate knowledge of one’s cancer [treatment] history is essential to the assessment of individual risk [of] late effects [and] in the seeking out of appropriate and necessary healthcare across one’s lifetime.”
Bode and Zimmerman are not alarmists out to unduly worry parents and patients; rather, they see life after cancer as full of joy and leading to an attitude of gratitude. Yet, they are adamant that more education about the late effects of childhood cancer treatment is sorely needed.
The duo is working with professional producers on a documentary film series that they hope will be of benefit to thousands of families.
“My story of sorrow mingled with joy is made possible only through prayer and God’s grace which surrounds my days,” Bode wrote.