Some people are so extraordinary that their memory inspires generosity even after they’re gone. That’s the case with Judy Koh, who battled breast cancer for 14 years — and whose family, friends and colleagues decided to create a research fund in her name.
Judy received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Washington in 1976, and she stayed close by during her career, working at UW Medical Center — where she became head nurse of the inpatient oncology unit — as well as Fred Hutch and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Although she retired to raise her children, Allyson and Alex, Judy cherished her friendships with colleagues and patients, staying in touch with many of them for years.
In 2003, Judy was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. With intensive chemotherapy, she went into remission for years before the cancer recurred and spread in 2013. She was treated at some of the same places where she used to work — and was even cared for by some former colleagues.
“Whenever she went into infusion for chemo, it was like a reunion,” says her husband, Wui-Jin Koh, M.D., a UW professor in radiation oncology. “Her caregivers became like family to her.”
On May 21, 2017, Judy passed away. The Judith Anne Hanada Koh Memorial Fund for Breast Cancer Research, created to honor her memory and the care she received from UW Medicine and SCCA, has already raised over $28,000.
“Judy lives on in our memories and in all the lives that she touched so profoundly,” says Dr. Koh. “If the fund inspires a student or resident to pursue a career in oncology as a researcher or a doctor, we would be happy.”