Judy Naglit - 10 Year Anniversary

June 2004 - June 2014
by Boris Jovanovic

Ten years ago we lost one of the most dedicated members of Greater Atlanta Voice Masters. Our very active Judy Naglit lost her third battle with cancer. Personally I lost a great friend, one on the first and best I made after we had moved to the States. Judy was my big supporter and she helped to me when I needed help the most. She helped me to accept myself after my laryngectomy, encouraged me to do things I believed I would not be able to do anymore and taught me to enjoy life even when I was facing something very bad such as cancer.

Judy had her laryngectomy surgery in Fall 1999 and I had mine in early 2000. I was the first new face joining the Masters after she did. Most other GAVM member had recovered from their surgeries pretty well already, and they talked quite well using voice prostheses or tracheoesophageal speech, and only the two of us communicated using the old fashioned Cooper-Rand electro larynx. It was pretty uncomfortable and I was disappointed because a very few people were understanding me. Judy understood me right away and she even told to me that I was doing great.

At the time when I had my radiation therapy my head was swollen and I was horribly tired. I asked doctors about it and they told me this was because of radiation and it will be OK soon. But even long after I finished with the radiation therapy those symptoms persisted. I talked with Judy and she, from her own experience, suggested I check my thyroid, and she was right.

About a year after my surgery I was looking for a new job, because I was not able to do what I was doing before the surgery in an industrial plant. Judy offered me to work as a maintenance man in the apartment complex she was managing at that time. Since I have never done anything like that before, I told her that I was afraid I would not be able to do it. She just looked at me and said "Of course you can do it, your job interview is scheduled for tomorrow". I started working with Judy and whenever I had a challenging problem I repeated Judy's words: "of course you can do it ..."

Judy was a "full time" GAVM member. She was visiting new laryngectomy patients, edited our newsletter Happy Talk, participated in Relay for Life and raised money for American Cancer Society. She asked me to do the same. Particularly she wanted me to go visit new patients. I told her that I needed time to prepare myself for this. One day Judy called me and told me that she has scheduled a visit at Emory Hospital but she could not do it and that I had to go to Emory right away because the patient would be discharged soon. I tried to find an excuse, but she just "shut off" any discussion with "just go and do it!" And I did it, and I was happy I did it. When I came back from Emory she told me that she was very proud of me and that also meant a lot to her. "When you are helping to others you are actually helping yourself as well. Do you feel good about you just did?" - Judy asked me. I was thinking about her words a lot and I started visiting more and more people, raised money at Relay for Life, started this website ...

I was happy to work with Judy Naglit. She was a very honest person and a friend you can always count on. She always gave you credit for things you did well, but If she didn't like something you were doing she would tell you right away as well.

When Judy's cancer was back for the third time she wrote a short letter to me, because it was very hard for her to talk about it. Cancer was the only thing in her whole life she was not able to manage. She was so proud and didn't want to show any weakness. She was aware that she was losing that battle, but she lived like everything was just fine. Even in her last days she was helping others and spreading encouragement and love. Judy refused to take chemotherapy because she knew that in that case she would not have been able to spend time with her little granddaughter Jessie. It was a hard decision, but she did it without any hesitation. She told me that she knew that chemo could not save her life and that she would rather have some quality grandmamma time than be a chemo patient.

Thank you Judy for everything you did for others, for our small Greater Atlanta Voice Masters, for me and my family. All these long ten years you have been missed, but you are also with us.