Style Icon: Judy Fitzpatrick


Burberry Brit jacket, Merona t-shirt, Eileen Fisher pants. Never without jewelry, Judy wears a Liquid Metal by Sergio Gutierrez gold mesh bracelet, VSA Designs (aka Virgins, Saints & Angles) San Benito earrings that were a gift from a friend, and a green beaded bracelet that was a gift from her son, stacked with her Rolex watch.

Burberry Brit jacket, Merona t-shirt, Eileen Fisher pants. Never without jewelry, Judy wears a Liquid Metal by Sergio Gutierrez gold mesh bracelet, VSA Designs, San Benito earrings that were a gift from a friend, and a green beaded bracelet that was a gift from her son, stacked with her Rolex watch.

Cancer Survivor

Written and styled by Tracy James 

Photographed by Chuck St. John

 

“God above me, God below me, God within me,” reads the engraved silver bracelet on Judy Fitzpatrick’s wrist. The simple cuff was a gift of support from her college roommate when, just three years ago, Fitzpatrick underwent treatments in a claustrophobic hyperbaric chamber for 40 consecutive days due to residual complications from her fourth bout with cancer. You read that correctly—fourth bout with cancer.

Now cancer free for 12 years, it is hard to believe that the 67-year-old petite brunette who doesn’t let moss grow under her feet has endured such affliction. Today Fitzpatrick can be found attending the sporting events of her four grandchildren, spending time at the beach (her happy place), attending Alabama football games, gardening at her beloved home in the Abingdon area of Mountain Brook, or working on a project in her sewing room there (dubbed “The Magic Room” because her husband swears he doesn’t remember the discussion of its construction, and one day it just appeared). However, at the young age of 31, with a 2-year-old and 6-year-old at home, Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, she would be in remission for 16 years, only to be diagnosed with breast cancer on the other side at 47. Beating that, she would battle cancer again at age 54 and 55, this time in the form of ovarian cancer.

Many people don’t realize, or just don’t talk about, the fact that cancer and all of its trappings—weight fluctuation, reconstructive surgery, and losing one’s hair—can present style challenges for a woman. When doctors told Fitzpatrick her hair would start falling out in two weeks, she went straight to the salon to have her head shaved. “I wasn’t one who wanted to wake up every morning and mourn a new clump on my pillow,” she explains. Instead, she found the experience “freeing,” and loved the sensation of rubbing her hand along her smooth, bald head. Not wanting to appear sick in front of her young children, Fitzpatrick opted for wigs as opposed to turbans, which also allowed her to feel more normal. Due to scarring from surgeries, higher necklines still work best, “and a tankini has never been in my swimsuit wardrobe,”she says with a grin.

“Clothes are perishable items, so I try not to worry about them too much or take them too seriously,” she says. That said, she is not implying that she thinks clothes are disposable. Growing up, she was taught to take care of her things. Her classic style is a product of that, as opposed to “one season and done” as she calls it; many items in her closet have withstood the test of time. Fitzpatrick notes that some retailers carry cheaply made merchandise geared toward college-aged girls who do see their wardrobes as disposable and treat it as such. She rightly recognizes that those kinds of clothes should be left to girls of that age.

Fitzpatrick finds quality, age-appropriate clothing to fit her traditional to eclectic tastes at Nordstrom (including Nordstrom Rack), Gus Mayer, Village Sportswear, Town & Country, the Sundance catalog, and Von Maur, which she first discovered in Louisville, Kentucky, while there for their annual trip to the Derby. Joking that she could open an Eileen Fisher outlet in her closet, Fitzpatrick admits that over the years she has found those brands that best fit both her shape and lifestyle and has stuck with them. In a world of women constantly second-guessing their styles, it is refreshing to come across someone settled and secure in this area. After all, confidence is always stylish.

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