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Judith was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 16, 1967. She had a typical Canadian childhood in Ottawa, where her father Maier worked for the public service and her mother Peggy was a teacher. In 1981, her life took a turn in a different direction. While she was on summer vacation on Vancouver Island, she became ill with a fever and abdominal pain. She was first diagnosed with appendicitis, but then she began to develop paralysis, beginning in her feet and hands and progressing up her legs and arms.