At the Stefanie’s Champions awards luncheon this year, Judy Tuckerman of New Albany, Ohio, received the 2014 Champion of Hope award. Now in its third year, this award honors those who selflessly give their time, energy and commitment to help the cancer community while furthering the mission of the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Judy was recognized for her community activism and for her longtime support and advocacy for cancer patients, the Spielman Fund and the OSUCCC – James. When accepting the award before an audience of 700, she offered words of wisdom and love.

I have been so touched and honored to receive this magnificent Champion of Hope award. Seventeen years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the moment I was given the frightening news, I did not have hope. I was not strong. And I did not have a positive attitude. I was completely shocked and uncertain if I would live.

There are many people with me on this stage today. You cannot see them, but I promise you they are here. For I am surrounded by the love of all those who gave me hope and strength to get through all that was before me when I received that diagnosis. My incredible children and all nine of my perfect grandchildren, eight of whom were yet to be born, have kept me smiling throughout these 17 years. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, the journey continues. Sharing and showing their love for me has been of immeasurable importance. I doubt that they realize what it has meant to me, so this is a perfect time for me to tell them!

My fabulous husband, Steve, literally held my hand when no one was watching but he knew how much I needed it to give me hope and support. His warm hand has never wavered. Along with my wonderful family, I have a dear friend by the name of Abigail. She and my loving husband sat with me through every chemo treatment and every doctor’s appointment with concern, hope and love that I could continuously see in their eyes. They have given me great strength for 17 years through tears and laughter. And the gentle man who saved my life is Dr. William Farrar. With his continued kindness and magnificent care, he gives hope to me and thousands of others. I am so lucky to have an army of friends who have always been there for me through thick and thin.

One of the true blessings in my life was my relationship with Stefanie Spielman. I was old enough to be her mother, but our friendship roles were reversed. For 11 years she was not only my special friend and confidant, but my teacher. Stef taught me to how to reach out to cancer patients to give them hope and a kind hand. All of our emails, phone calls and hugs gave both of us hope that we could pass on to others. I carry Stef with me every day of my life. Now you can see all of these incredible people whose shoulders I stand on and who stand beside me today. Without them, I could not stand on my own.

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