Judy Norstrom, one of the sisters in the woodworking partnership Lakeshore Crafts, is the picture of health today. In addition to her woodworking, she has a beautiful garden at her home that she just keeps expanding.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. It was caught early, but what was supposed to be a fairly straightforward treatment turned into much more.
“My cancer was found in my yearly mammogram,” Judy said. “It was caught very early.”
After going for the mammogram, she got the dreaded phone call that all eventual breast cancer patients get that the doctor needed to talk to her. A needle biopsy – also common to breast cancer patients – followed.
“It was no fun at all,” Judy said of the needle biopsy.
Judy’s initial prognosis was about as good as you could expect having just been told you have breast cancer.
“The spot was so small, they said they would do a lumpectomy and that would be it,” she said.
But after the lumpectomy, she got the news that the cancer was more involved than doctors originally thought.
“We said, ‘Wait a minute,’” said Judy’s sister Mary Brewer, who was her support system at the time. They were living in California then and had not yet moved back to Guntersville.
Judy told the doctors “We just went from the best case scenario to the worst case.” The doctors informed her pretty quick that hers was not a worst case scenario, that she was not going to die from it.
But it did require more surgery.
She ended up getting a double mastectomy. Expanders were put into place for a future breast reconstruction. But that’s where her story took another turn.
She got an infection. Battling it turned out to be something else, with more surgeries due to the infection.
She was diagnosed in March of 2010 and dealt with the complications and issues until October of 2011. During that time, she and her husband split up and she moved in with Mary.
“Mary was my support system,” Judy said.
Then in 2011, Mary’s husband got central nervous system cancer. Judy returned the kindness and became Mary’s support system then.
After Mary’s husband passed, the sisters moved back to Guntersville to be close to their other sister, City Clerk Betty Jones. They also started their woodworking business which has been very popular.
Judy, Mary and Betty are far more than sisters. The women are best friends too.