I met Kerrilyn, over 10 years ago, when her 6 or 7 year old daughter, Faith, stepped foot into my dance class. Over the years, I’ve watched both of her children grow with grace, poise, and a solid layer of tough skin. The longer I got to know them, he more I learned about their family legacy, and how they became the great people they are today. Within this story lies Judith McPhail, a Mother, Wife, and hard worker taken too soon by the hands of Breast Cancer

Judi was diagnosed with Breast Cancer over 21 years ago, when we knew much less about Cancer and its treatment. Judi treated her Cancer just like another thing to do in her day. Wake up, get her chemotherapy, go to work, come home, be a mother, go to sleep. The only exception was Fridays, when the week long treatments would catch up with her. She would talk about going to deal with the “Red Devil”, a cancer treatment which gets its name from the it’s tint, and ability to kill anything in it’s path. Thanks to this medicine, Judi got to see many more days with her Kerrilyn and her family. Todays Advances in this medicine that had proven to prolonge life then, is saving lives today!

After Judi passed away, Kerrilyn became a Mother of two beautiful children. When asked if she would breastfeed, she quickly replied “yes”. She said she didn’t have any real passion behind breastfeeding, but, even in the 90’s, we knew enough to know that breastfeeding would decrease her chances of getting breast cancer herself. And that was her main motivation for breastfeeding both of her children

After talking with Kerrilyn about her mother’s legacy. I gathered that Judi was a force To be reckoned with. She made hard blows in her life feel like another chip to be brushed off her shoulder. She taught her daughter to have tough skin, and not to let the worlds problems weigh her down. She was the walking proof that no disease can steal your spirit, and that no matter what, YOU get to decide your own destiny. Judi chose to live her life until the final day, like she did every other day of her life. A gift that her daughter will always hold dear to her heart.

Having known this family for the last 10 years, this interview allowed me to put a lot of the pieces together myself. Faith’s middle name is Judith (presumably after her late grandmother). Having the honor of watching her grow over the last 10 years allowed me to see just how much of Judi is in her too! The tough skin, how easily she can work through hard problems with ease,  the choices she makes to “go-for-it-all” today…. I see so much Judi in her, just like her Mother.

Kerrilyn wants to remind you all to get your mammogram tests as soon as you are eligible. Know your risk factors. Do your self checks. Early detection saves lives. It’s the truth! Early action got Kerrilyn and her family many more days with her mother. 2 decades later, early detection saved my Mother’s life! Judi helped break ground on the science that will treat future patients with Breast Cancer. In a way, I can thank her for saving my Mother…

In honor of Judi, Kerrilyn has pledged to walk 35 miles in the month of October to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. This year I chose to join her in her walk. Thank you, Judi, for bringing such great people into my community!

Click here to see how she is doing, and donate!