Judy Bode, BSN
Co-Founder and President
Convinced that there is purpose in all things, Judy has consistently sought after opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those surrounding her; therefore, the decision to co-found myHeart, yourHands came easily.
Judy is a nurse. She studied pre-nursing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI before going on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Grand Valley State University in 1982.
Upon graduation from nursing school, Judy began her nursing career in the Special Care Obstetrics Unit at Spectrum Health in her hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. She left Spectrum Health in 1984 to accept a position at St. Joseph Hospital in Ypsilanti, MI working on the Oncology Unit. Her clinical expertise also includes the nursing care of the quadriplegic at home.
Placing a high value on volunteerism, Judy has extended herself and her time to Oakdale Christian and Grand Rapids Christian High PTO, the American Cancer Society, Reach for Recovery, Gilda’s Club, and Spectrum Health’s Renucci Hospitality House. Also, of note, she served as the Director of the Calvin Christian Reformed Church Family Assistance Program from 1997-2007.
Judy, a fellow traveler along the road of childhood cancer, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease at 10 years of age in 1970, a time during which this type of cancer was thought to be incurable; however, following a 10 day hospital stay, 3 surgeries, and 6 weeks of radiation therapy to her neck and chest, she was free of Hodgkin’s disease.
After the completion of her therapy, Judy returned to live what most would consider a normal life: graduating high school, attending college, entering clinical practice as a nurse, marrying the love of her life, Dan, and giving brith to their son, Brian in 1985 and their daughter, Amanda in 1987.
Unfortunately, time would reveal that the radiation used to cure Judy’s cancer did irreparable damage to every normal cell in its pathway. Subsequent to her original diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, she was diagnosed and successfully treated for two cancers, thyroid and breast, that were the direct result of the radiation she received 20 years prior.
At age 45, she was found to have coronary artery disease requiring coronary bypass surgery also secondary to the radiation therapy. Although the surgery was successful, a subsequent inflammatory response further compromised her already damaged heart muscle and the sac surrounding her heart.
Presently, Judy lives with a heart, permanently stiffened and scarred, slowly failing due to the radiation therapy that spared her life as a child.
She struggles daily with chest pain, decreased stamina, fluid balance, and the uncertainty she and her family face as they await the possibility of heart transplantation, yet her heart is steadfast and full of hope for the future.
Judy is followed by David Taylor, MD at the Cleveland Clinic.
She has been formally listed with UNOS since March 3, 2010 [and] continues to wait at home under the watchful care of Michael Dickinson, MD of of Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Medical Cardiology at Spectrum Health.
UPDATE: Judy received a new heart on September 5, 2013 and is doing well as we march forward with this incredibly important educating and equipping campaign using Resilient: the Story of the Late Effects of Cancer, a documentary that is opening the doors of medical education, healthcare providers, and cancer survivors.
UPDATE: Inquiries can now be addressed to Judy. Judy can be reached by phone at (616) 241-4434 or via email at JudyBode4@yahoo.com.
Stephanie Zimmerman, BSN, MSN
Co-Founder and President
Stephanie’s personal experience as a child diagnosed and treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma in the late 1970’s led her to become a nurse serving the physical, psychosocial, and educational needs of children and their families along the cancer trajectory.
Having received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Furman University (’92), Stephanie went on to achieve her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University (’95). Stephanie served as a pediatric oncology/bone marrow transplant nurse from 1995 to 1999 while pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Florida (’99).
After completing her Masters degree in nursing, she served as the pediatric oncology nurse practitioner alongside Sara Chaffee, MD and Eric Larsen, MD at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH . Stephanie’s passion was, and remains, the potential late effects of cancer therapy with a particular interest in those medications associated with heart damage, pulmonary fibrosis, musculoskeletal changes, learning challenges, and infertility.
Stephanie is no stranger to the late effects of cancer treatment. In April 2008, Stephanie’s heart failed secondary to the chest radiation and chemotherapy [doxorubicin] used to cure her Ewing’s Sarcoma 3 decades prior. Stephanie was transported by air to the Cleveland Clinic on 04/19/2008 where she underwent heart transplantation on 04/21/2008.
Unable to return to clinical practice following transplant, yet unwilling to abandon her passion for the survivor population, Stephanie partnered with Judy Bode of Grand Rapids, MI, in the founding of myHeart, yourHands, Inc. [MHYH].
Stephanie currently serves in an advisory capacity with Judy serving as president of myHeart, yourHands.