Her mother Naomi is best known for her musical career—she and her eldest daughter Wynonna, 56, rose to fame in the ’80s as the country music duo The Judds. But years earlier, she worked as a registered nurse at an ICU unit in a Tennessee hospital. Naomi was inspired to pursue nursing after the death of her teenage brother.
“I was 19 years old and my 17-year-old little brother died of Hodgkin’s (lymphoma) and I felt so incredibly helpless,” she said at the Texas Tech School of Nursing’s 35th Anniversary Gala in 2016, according to The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “Nobody told us what was going on. He asked me one time if he was dying and I didn’t know what to tell him. It was such an incredible trauma and tragedy to me that it was on a cellular memory that just got registered to me. I was born to do (nursing) because I had so much empathy and compassion for other people.”
She left nursing in 1984 to concentrate on her music. But years later, she had to largely put her career aside after suffering her own major medical ailment. In 1990, Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which she contracted from an infected needle during her time at work as a nurse.