Julie B., last year's YASCer, Is Running from San Fran to Baltimore

You might have heard of people who ride their bicycles across the United States. But who runs from coast to coast? Well, for one, Julie B., one of last year’s YASC Community Ministers.

“The 4K for Cancer” is a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer. Since 2001, groups of college students have undertaken journeys across America with the goal of offering hope, inspiration and support to cancer communities along the way.

Julie has been picked to join a group of others who will run across the country this summer. She will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 49 day, 4,000+ mile run from San Francisco to Baltimore.

Though you might be scratching your head and asking how anyone could do that (I know I am, and I’ve thought about riding across the U.S. on my bike…), Julie shares with us the “why” behind her wanting to do this run:

“I am an alumna of the University of Kentucky and a graduate student in physical therapy at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia.

Last year I lived at Old First Reformed United Church of Christ in Philadelphia, and served as a Community Minister and a Case Manager for Bethesda Project’s Church Shelter Program.

My connection to the cancer community is my family. My mom really. When I was 16 years old, while we were on Forth of July family vacation at a lake in rural Kentucky, my mother was experiencing unrelenting pain in her abdomen. Being very pain tolerant, and maybe a little stubborn, she tried to wait the pain out; hoping it would go away.

In the early hours of the morning she finally gave in and allowed my father to take her to the local hospital emergency room. There they decided that whatever was wrong with her was too sever for the small local hospital to handle. She was then life-flighted to a hospital in Lexington KY, two hours away by car from where we were staying.

Meanwhile, my older brother and I were at the cabin wondering where our parents were because they left while we were still sleeping, and we had no cell service or phone at the house. After a while, my dad came rushing in telling us to gather our things and head to the hospital in Lexington.

Only when we arrived at the hospital did we find out that our mother had nearly bled to death and was now in surgery. Once the surgery was over, the doctor came out and told us that she had had an ovarian tumor the size of a basketball that had twisted and caused massive internal bleeding. It had been removed, and she was in stable condition.

After that incident, she had another small surgery, and several oncologist visits, but everything was on the up and up. No chemo, no radiation: it was all going to be great. My mom was a cancer survivor!

However, we were not yet aware of the very strong correlation between ovarian cancer and breast cancer. The summer before my senior year of high school we got the awful news that cancer was back in our lives. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. And this time it wasn’t just a surgery that was going to take care of it. My amazing mother had to have a mastectomy, chemo, and radiation all while remaining very positive, keeping her sense of humor, and working very hard to make sure I had as normal of a senior year as possible. I know that it really took a toll on her body, but she didn’t let it slow her down. I remember her coming straight from a radiation session to meet me at the hair salon where I was getting ready for prom. Now, over five years later my mom is cancer free and in great health.

I am doing this run first and foremost in honor of my mom. She is the most amazing, resilient, strong, and inspiring person I know. She has taught me that you have to face life’s challenges head on and no matter what happens, keep fighting.

I am also running for those how weren’t so lucky and lost their loved ones in their battle with cancer. I want to lift up and celebrate the lives lost to cancer.

Lastly, I run for a cure… so that one day there won’t be any more lives cut short and families left with an empty place at the table.”

Julie is currently collecting donations for her cross country (literally!) run. If you want more information on her run, check out her Facebook page or you can get her contact info. from the church office.