Real People

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[Judi] There's nothing you can control in your life in terms of circumstances, absolutely nothing.

There's nothing to say; there's nothing you can do. You can't change it.

But you can always control how you respond to them.

[ocean waves breaking]

[gentle piano music] I've had 26 tumors taken out of me. When I first was diagnosed, I was very depressed about it.

I truly believed that if I had a year, I was lucky.

Because my cancer is stage four, thyroid cancer. And what I thought that meant was, I was on the way out.

I've since learned it doesn't mean that. It just means it's incurable. It just means we have to keep finding different ways to fight it and treat it and try to hold it back.

[crowd singing] Happy birthday to you.

[Judi] I think it's important to do things for the first time no matter how old you are.

I'm 68 and I'm still doing things for the first time.

[Judi] I am so passionately involved with beauty and art. Kinda late in life to start oil painting at 67, but it's turned out really well.

I also write spoken word and poetry.

I believe in my mask, this made up me. And I think I directed my first film. You go, not you.

You just keep bowing. And so...Let's try that again.

[Female Friend] Oh, I met Judi when I was 16, I want to say, and she was my drama teacher.

She's a friend and a mentor, and she's just an amazing human being.

[Judi] Cut. That was very good, Tammy. I liked it.

[Male Friend] She's like this sprite that kind of bounces around the world making things better, you know?

[Judi] I am so happy to see you.

[Director] Behind the scenes hug.

[Judi] I love you. Thank you. I love you!

[Friend] I love that, that she's just been kind of living with this thing, and it's not great, but it's also not stopping her from doing her thing.

[Judi] Now, I am an artist in residence for a professional dance company out of Denver. It's the joy of my life. It's my true passion.

We're getting darn close, we're only eight weeks away, I think.

[Director] Between then and now, do you just put it out of your head?

[Judi] I do, actually.

[Director] 'Cause what are you gonna do, right?

[Judi] That's exactly what I do, yeah. I live my life. It's real. The pain is real. The challenges are real. The fear is real.

You do have to find a new normal. I laugh with my doctors.

My husband and I have found a way to be honest with each other.

He was verklempt. I mean, he was about to lose his best friend here.

We had no idea what was going to happen and at a certain point I had to say, "Buddy, I gotta be able to cry when I feel like I need to cry. I gotta be able to face this, 'cause I don't have the energy to pretend so that you don't hurt." 

We actually open tonight. I'm in some ways overwhelmed with the joy of this, and in other ways, it just seems to me that this is just one more step in the story of what I get to do with my life.

When you've been diagnosed with stage four cancer, you have this laser-like focus on the moment that you're living in-on the potential for joy and beauty and love.

And in some ways, it's a blessing.

[cheering]

I feel like I've been given a gift.

It's the best time of my life, and I know what my priorities are. And living every day with no regrets is one of them.

We're gonna gather up all of the positive energy, and we're going to bring it to us, and we're going to release it with a yes!

[Crowd] Yes!

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Judi's story: Choosing joy

When Judi walks into a room, laughter and smiles are sure to follow.

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