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Broken arm led to cancer diagnosis for this crafty grandma

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Broken arm led to cancer diagnosis for this crafty grandma

Judy Crumbaugh is a patient of IU Health Simon Cancer Center. She’s also a dedicated mother and grandmother.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

She loves helping children learn. Judy Crumbaugh once served as an educational aid for children with special needs. One of her students was so enthused about Crumbaugh’s domestic skills that she helped her work in the garden. Crumbaugh taught her student how to preserve the fresh-grown produce through canning.

Crumbaugh met the man who would become her husband at a dance when she was a senior in high school. She and Wayne married 52 years ago and made their home in the Benton County community of Templeton. The township named after “Col. William Templeton” is surrounded by farmland and Big Pine Creek. It spans about 77 acres and is home to about 75 residents. The Crumbaughs are parents to two sons and a daughter, and grandchildren to eight.

Those family members are the loves of Judy’s life. She said she’s formed some wonderful bonds with her children and grandchildren - in the garden weeding, at the sewing machine creating, and in the kitchen cooking. Her children were 4-H members and her grandchildren too.

It was when she was busy in the kitchen that Crumbaugh tripped and fell resulting in a broken arm.

“Breaking my arm was a blessing in disguise,” said Crumbaugh, 76. For some time she’d been experiencing some aches in her knee and hip. During a family hike through the woods in Georgia, she said she felt like she was struggling to keep up.

Her broken arm landed Crumbaugh in the hospital at IU Health Arnett. After some x-rays, her doctor told her he wanted to conduct more tests.

“He asked me a bunch of questions and I wondered why I needed more tests,” said Crumbaugh. In 2010 she learned she has multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. She started treatment with an oral chemotherapy and in August of 2011 had a stem cell transplant. Under the care of Dr. Sherif Farag at IU Health Simon Cancer Center, Crumbaugh said her health was pretty good until 2021. She was offered a new twice monthly infusion.

“I’ve stayed on it since it was a research study until it became approved and I’m still doing great,” said Crumbaugh.

With all of her family members living within 10 miles of her Templeton home, Crumbaugh says she spends as much time with them as she can.

Judy Crumbaugh sewing with granddaughter

“There’s always a project to help with. My granddaughter wanted to do sewing and her dad was an excellent sewer but I had more time to work with her. We put up a card table in the gazebo and that’s where she learned to sew,” said Crumbaugh. Her 4-H projects went on to win awards at the Indiana State Fair and her granddaughter has practiced her skills on other projects.

She’s taught her grandson about gardening and now joins him at a local farmer’s market where he sells his produce.

The grandchildren call her “Grandma Judy” and it’s not unusual for them to request her home cooking.

“I’ve taught all of my grandkids to cook and sometimes when they’re over they’ll all make a meal or decide at 11:00 at night that they want to make zucchini bread. It’s my greatest joy to spend time with them.”

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