Together, our community is caring for Judy Paterson

“You are my sunshine, my constant sunshine”

When Judy Paterson was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2020, she was told she might only have a few of months left to live. Nearly three years later, the retired teacher is still going strong.

She points to four pillars in her life that keep her motivated. “I’ve got my family. I have my very special friends. I have my health providers. And I have my music,” she says.

Before Christmas, Judy shared her love for music by bringing her ukulele into the chemotherapy clinic, where she receives treatment every two weeks. She serenaded the staff with special lyrics she wrote to tunes like “Yellow Bird” and “Hallelujah” about going through cancer and how much she appreciates everything Guelph General does for her. At the time, she said, “I’m just very, very happy with this Hospital,” she says. “People here work their buns off.”

A couple months later, she gave an encore performance for Valentine’s Day. Both times, she finished the concerts with a special rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” Her personalized chorus left many nurses in tears:

“You are my sunshine, my constant sunshine, 

You make me happy when skies are grey,

You are supportive and always caring,

Always there, for us, in every way.” 

For Judy, it was a way to thank the people who care for her — from the surgical professionals and the nurses in the chemotherapy clinic to the pharmacists and the folks who do her bloodwork. “I cannot say enough about the staff here,” she says. “They really make you feel special.”

But playing her ukulele is just one way Judy shows her support. Many of the Christmas presents she buys comes from the Guelph General gift shop. She regularly plays the Hospital’s 50/50 Lottery. And she gives tribute gifts in honour of special people she’s met at the hospital who have passed away.

Judy believes that when you wake up in the morning you have two choices: it can be a good day, or it can be a bad day. She chooses to make each day as good as possible — whether that’s by visiting with her grandchildren, walking down to the stream behind her house or pulling out her ukulele to strum a little ditty.

“My motivation is enjoying my family to the best that I can and just taking each day and making the very best of it.”