Alana Okun 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?
Cancer is a club that initiates millions of Americans annually, without even counting the millions more family members that get to feel its wrath. It’s a club that nobody wants to be a part of. Unfortunately, my family has had our membership renewed many times.
My grandma, Sandy, first got breast cancer when she was 61 years old. She went through chemo and radiation, and miraculously, came out relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, in 2004, 20 years later, it happened again, but this time it was uterine cancer. After she survived that, my family finally thought they saw the last of it. Until only five years passed, and just like that, in 2009, the breast cancer was back again.
Due to her early detections, incredible medical staff and some miracle working, my grandma has survived her third cancer and is thriving. When I asked if she had any remarks to add, she mentioned that it’s taught her to stay vigilant, keep track of her health, and let her body be her best friend.
Although my family may not be a part of the cancer community anymore, we have memories- some heart-wrenching, and some heart-warming, that remind us of the potency of this disease. However, the experience of watching my beloved grandma fall ill to this monstrous disease, instilled my passion to do my part in the hopes of creating a cancer-free future.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?
I am embarking on this crazy mission because this program represents everything I am passionate about. 4K for Cancer is a community of young people, using their spirit and their determination to help make a difference.
It also combines two of my most prominent interests- running and medicine. In the least cliche sense, running has saved me countless times. Since middle school, through my sophomore year of college, I have been involved in competitive running. When I did poorly on that one chemistry test sophomore year, what did I do? I went for a run. When I was feeling angry, or stressed, or bothered, what did I do, every single time? I went for a run. Running also “saved” me in college. I walked onto my cross country team after transferring to a new school after freshman year, and instead of facing a lonely and confusing sophomore year in a new place, I faced it with new friends and teammates, but the same incredible sport. This trip exemplifies that same concept that I have always thought about towards running. Running has the power to change, to alleviate and even, to heal.
By running with 4K, I could use my passion to not only help myself, but spread that power of healing and positivity to others. Whether that be through fundraising, volunteering, or simply encouraging my peers, I believe I have the power to use my favorite sport, to truly help those around me, and that is why I am a 4K participant.
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!
|Lyra Biancamano||12/13/2017||$5.00||Heather Haase||12/13/2017||$25.00||You go girl! This is amazing!||Katherine Reese||12/12/2017||$5.00||Jenna Ryan||12/11/2017||$3.00||Helen Eliya||12/10/2017||$10.00||Jenn Burns||12/10/2017||$25.00||GO LAOSH GO||Ellen Cohen||12/06/2017||$50.00||Go Alana go!!||Jim Burns||12/06/2017||$100.00||Go loosh!||Gabrielle Okun||12/06/2017||$50.00||Congrats sister! You're going to do an amazing job, so proud of you!!!||Adel Boyarsky||12/06/2017||$20.00||proud||Luisa Martins||12/06/2017||$20.00||RUN ALANA RUN!||Michael Haefner||12/06/2017||$50.00||Rebecca Weinberg||12/05/2017||$10.00||Judy Okun||12/05/2017||$100.00||Yahoo!!!||Jonathan Weinberg||12/05/2017||$100.00||Alana Okun||12/04/2017||$100.00|