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Runner on trail of inspiration

Three-time cancer survivor works to educate women about breast cancer
By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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A local cancer survivor is striving to educate others while relishing life. Three-time breast cancer survivor Judy Pickett, 48, of Cameron Park now works to educate and raise funds for women facing breast cancer. “I was rather young with my first diagnosis, so I want to educate and inform young women about breast cancer and mammograms,” Pickett said. “Also, I try to inspire women to get through it.” Pickett was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 1997 at the age of 33. She had a reoccurrence in 1999 and a third reoccurrence in 2001. Now, she has been cancer free for 10 years. “Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence, but it is a very challenging time,” she said. “With new medications and technology, people are living longer lives with cancer. Today there are more survivors than ever before because of early detection.” In the past 14 years, she ran in 140 breast cancer races throughout the country with more than 200,000 survivors and 2 million participants. “I’ve always been a runner, it was always my passion,” Pickett said. “I was trying to find an answer of why I got breast cancer at such a young age, and during that journey, I discovered that I could make a difference in the fight to help others through my passion of running.” She said her motivation is simply to continue the fight against breast cancer. “I run for those who have lost the race against breast cancer, for those who are currently running and those who don’t even know they will have a race to run,” Pickett said. Pickett works as a physical education teacher at Rolling Hills Middle School in El Dorado Hills and coaches the cross country team and track. Since 1999, Pickett has also been involved with the El Dorado Community Foundation in Placerville to provide scholarships to students who have had cancer in their family. She also has a fund at the foundation to provide free mammograms in conjunction with Marshall Medical Center for residents who are uninsured or underinsured. “Judy has the pink ribbon fund at the foundation to support women as they face struggles and obstacles with breast cancer,” said William Roby, executive director El Dorado Community Foundation. He said he has worked with Pickett since 2007 and has been nothing but impressed. “She is always radiant, energetic and full of enthusiasm. She works with a passion,” Roby said. “She really works toward the goal of helping women with both the treatment and prevention aspect of breast cancer.” In 2010 the foundation granted $640,000 back into the community with the 124 funds within the El Dorado Community Foundation, and two of them are Pickett’s funds. “It is always wonderful to have a person supporting you to tell you that you can beat this, and that’s what Judy does,” Roby said. Pickett said she only hopes to inspire and educate others through her work. “I just want people to take charge of their health, be an advocate and always keep hope,” Pickett said. For more information, visit eldoradocf.org.