Vaishali Ravikumar is a junior at The College of New Jersey. In the summer of 2018, she will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 49-day, 4000+ mile run from San Francisco to Boston, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
As a student of science, cancer had been taught to me strictly as the “abnormal growth of cells", a language of methodical pathways: Ras, Rb, Myc, and onward. I had the good fortune of only witnessing its presence in a ten- centimeter petri dish or in an engineered mouse model. It wasn’t until I spent a day in the clinic at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with a bright eyed, 12 year old boy sustaining chemotherapy for neuroblastoma that I felt the overwhelming weight of mortality. To him, life and death were not abstract concepts, but palpable realities. His mature, hopeful outlook on such a future stays with me still. Since then, every cancer patient I have had the pleasure of meeting in the clinic has left a unique mark on my life and amplified the finite nature of the ability of science, a frustrating gap that I now hope to fill with service— a personal way for me to empower the well being of young patients’ whose courage inspires me to keep relearning and reinventing, to maintain faith in treatment and philanthropy in spite of cancer’s unpredictable movements.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?
Running had always come easily to me. There was magic to the sweaty hugs after each race, the gasping of pure air, to hear the silence that accompanies the beat of a stride. When an accident left my right tibia glowing on a bone scan, running— my source of euphoria was instantly taken away. The months following were textbook cases of “you don’t know what you have till it’s gone” as I sulked in the inability to forgive my legs for giving in and myself for giving up. But the sport eventually came back to me when I needed it most— it renewed my sense of control; it has taught me about the limits of our biology, the limits set by our bones, our genetics, and our environment. To be human is to want to freely author our lives, but to be human also means to be limited. Cancer is peculiar because it is an illness of unquenchable, self- propelled growth that leaves its carriers stunted by their own bodies, but not necessarily their minds. To me, the 4K run symbolizes cooperatively pushing past our mental limits with a sport that acknowledges our physical limits in honor of young people who are learning to live beyond the constraints of their cancer. Each mile is a symbol of the persistence of the illness, but also of the inexhaustible persistence of the fight against it.
It is exciting to share this experience with other runners with mutual values and through the journey, gain a deeper understanding of their stories as well. The structure of the 4K Run itself fosters a cooperative environment in which not only are members supporting each other, but various community organizations are also supporting runners and the overall cause. The Pre- Trip journey— involving a bone marrow transplant drive and scholarship application review— and the On- Trip events, like visiting cancer centers where the collected bone marrow could have actually been donated and physically delivering the UCF scholarships, creates a holistic, start to finish experience that I find incredibly fulfilling.
2018 marks the 17th year of the 4K for Cancer sending young adults on journeys across the country in an effort to inspire hope and unite communities in the fight against cancer. The 4K for Cancer is a program of The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF). Interested in joining the fight? Apply to be a rider or runner a at www.4kforcancer.org!
Over 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year. Young adults (ages 15-39) face a variety of unique challenges with a cancer diagnosis including fertility preservation, social isolation, lack of insurance, delayed diagnosis, and more.
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, impacted by cancer. With your support, the Ulman Cancer Fund is able to provide free support services and resources for the young adult cancer community including:
Cancer to 5K - a 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to physical activity.
Patient Navigation - a free program (onsite at cancer centers and remotely through our office) that ensures no young adult ever faces cancer alone. We provide one-on-one support & resources to young adults and their families to help them manage the cancer experience and long-term cancer survival.
Scholarships - a financial assistance program to help young adults continue their education after being affected by cancer through their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one.
UCF House - This year UCF broke ground on a “home away from home” to provide free housing for young adult cancer patients, and their caregivers, in East Baltimore.
Your donation will help make these programs and our mission possible!
|Harsh Alluri||01/22/2018||$10.00||Vāḻttukkaḷ! Nalla atirṣṭam||Sean Haimowitz||01/22/2018||$18.00||RUN RUN RUN RUN||Jess Liu||01/22/2018||$15.00||Kate Neary||01/22/2018||$5.00||Run Far!||Anonymous Friend||01/02/2018||$20.00||Good luck on your endeavor||Nicole Natale||12/30/2017||$5.00||broke but ily||Jasmine Mahajan||12/30/2017||$10.00||You're amazing cutie biggie love you so much!||Kevin Shymanski||12/29/2017||$100.00||Vishal Ravikumar||12/29/2017||$5.00||Akka, Good Luck.||Ravikumar Family||12/29/2017||$500.00||Pattu, Proud of you da, Best of Luck.||Rita Wang||12/29/2017||$10.00||Jessica Hwang||12/28/2017||$10.00||Garrison Family||12/27/2017||$200.00||Good luck Vaishali! YGG!!!||Samantha Balducci||12/26/2017||$5.00||You go spesh!||Mridula Karthikeyan||12/26/2017||$15.00||YOURE AMAZING so proud of u bb||Darshak Vekaria||12/26/2017||$11.00||Good luck, Vai!! This is so awesome! #RunVaiRun||Kristen Ambrosino||12/26/2017||$25.00||GO YOU!||Megana Murugesh||12/26/2017||$15.00||U go girl !! Also Cali ;)||Lindsay Brandt||12/26/2017||$15.00||U fit fam!||Karen Eng||12/25/2017||$20.00||This is SO awesome! Good luck Vai!! :)||Sarthak Mohanty||12/25/2017||$9.00||giving in bits||Sudeep Peddireddy||12/25/2017||$10.00||I want a good, clean fight. No groin shots.||Yash Shah||12/24/2017||$15.00||Run Forrest Run!!!||Jenna Ryan||12/24/2017||$2.00||You Go GIRL!!||Helen Eliya||12/24/2017||$10.00||UR THE BEST||Kelly Dalton||12/24/2017||$10.00||RUN VAI RUN||Preeyal Patel||12/24/2017||$10.00||Reading about your mission totally made my day :-)||Allie Dananberg||12/24/2017||$15.00||Run Run Run!||Meeki Lad||12/24/2017||$50.00||You better not trip||Lindsay Thomas||12/24/2017||$69.00||Claire Drotman||12/23/2017||$20.00||Shrey Patel||12/23/2017||$10.69||have fun!||Sarthak Mohanty||12/23/2017||$20.00||"Me and Jenny were like peas and carrots!" Proud of you!||Sana Ajani||12/23/2017||$20.00||This is AMAZING Vai! :)||Mia Dohrmann||12/23/2017||$5.00||Yay! :)||Alana Okun||12/22/2017||$10.00||running away from our problems :)))||Sai Reddy||12/22/2017||$10.00||Merin Kalapurakal||12/22/2017||$15.00||You go QURL!||Vaishali Ravikumar||12/21/2017||$100.00|