Cancer survivor now helps guide others

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David Minton/DRC
Judy Jeanes, an oncology nurse navigator at Denton Regional Medical Center and a breast cancer survivor, is shown Thursday in Denton .

Why I do it

Editor’s note: When something good needs to be done, many people in Denton volunteer to do it. We caught up with all kinds of volunteers to find out more about what they do and why. Here is another installment in our occasional series about Denton’s quiet heroes.


Judy Jeanes’ work is a bit like the work of other first responders. A nurse navigator, Jeanes is there in the room when the radiologist reviews the scan and tells a patient for the first time that they have cancer.

No matter how much a patient might have braced themselves for the news, “it’s still a deer-in-the-headlights moment,” Jeanes said.

She works with the patient as they make the next round of decisions, the crucial ones that start treatment with a cancer doctor. She answers the patient’s questions, no matter how bizarre or odd.

She brings a lot of experience to the job, having trained and worked as a cancer nurse for nearly 40 years. Plus, she is a cancer survivor herself. Now 64, she was 38 years old when she learned she had breast cancer.

Jeanes has volunteered more than once to be a model for a local cancer fundraiser — this year’s “You’re Beautiful!” Benefit and Style Show is scheduled for Jan. 29 at the University of North Texas Gateway Center. She will do it again this year, in honor of her 25th anniversary of cancer-free living.

Being a survivor of breast cancer treatment, are you a little self-conscious about modeling clothes for a high-profile event?

I’m nervous for a second or two, in the same way you might be nervous for anything public. But then I’m OK. After I tell people that I’m a breast cancer survivor, they look at my chest. For those who have just been told they have cancer, it’s a relief to know a survivor. It gives them hope. I’ve had people looking at my chest for 25 years. Everybody looks at my chest. Besides, you can’t see anything. I’ve got clothes on.

Your job is about cancer. You’ve battled cancer. You volunteer for cancer events. Do you sometimes think you’ve had enough of cancer in your daily life?

Sometimes I am a little bit tired of it. Over the years, there has been a whole bunch of stuff I’ve done, including Relay for Life and Reach for Recovery [both American Cancer Society programs]. My life really has been so ingrained with cancer. I’ve thought about volunteering for other things, like Empty Bowls [a local hunger fundraiser] or Keep Denton Beautiful. But so many people have reached out to me over the years. I sure don’t want anybody to stop calling me.

So what keeps you saying “yes’” when people in the cancer world ask for your volunteer help?

Back when I learned I had cancer, I had a 16-year-old and a husband. I made a bargain with the Lord. I said “let me use this” if he would let me live. Let me say this: Be careful what you ask for, because that opened the floodgates. So many people have reached out to talk with me when they are diagnosed. I have talked with hundreds of women, and not just breast cancer patients. People know they can call me.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.


What: 13th annual “You’re Beautiful!” Benefit and Style Show for the American Cancer Society

When: noon Friday, Jan. 29

Where: Gateway Center at the University of North Texas, corner of Eagle Drive and North Texas Boulevard

Reservations: $50, contact Krystal Alvarado at 940-268-6127or e-mail For underwriting, call Sue Fickey at 940-391-4900

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