Audrey Smith is a senior at Lee University. In the summer of 2018, she will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 70-day, 4000+ mile run from San Francisco, CA to Baltimore, MD raising money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
My freshman year of high school, my mother began suffering from extreme back pain. After filing through many different doctors, it was determined she had stage four cervical cancer. It had already metastasized to most all of her lymph nodes, and she was past the point of advisable treatment. They tried a round of chemotherapy, but she was already too weak, and results were not promising. She was given three months to live. She is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known, and she made it seven months, but it was extremely difficult to watch the life drain out of her. As I sat by her side in the Hospice house the days leading up to her death, she no longer looked like my mother: the lively, encouraging, beautiful woman I had once known. But I knew she was still there, and I held onto her hand until the end, and a few minutes thereafter.
I have always been interested in the sciences, but this personal experience with cancer definitely added stark relevance to my interest. As a Biochemistry major, I have absolutely fallen in love with the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. More specifically within that realm, I am entirely intrigued by cancer biology. This past summer I participated in a cancer research internship at UNMC’s Buffet Cancer Center. After I finish my undergraduate degree, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. in cancer biology.
Why are you traveling over 4000 miles this summer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?
In hopes to follow in my mother’s footsteps, I became a runner my junior year of high school. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to run track and cross-country at Lee University, and here is where my passion for running truly blossomed. It is incredibly sad for me to realize that I only have one more year to be a part of a team. Although solo runs are great, I believe running is meant to be a shared experience. I have therefore been looking into post-collegiate running opportunities. I was on a run in Omaha when I ran into the 4K Portland Ride group. I previously did not know something like this existed. I talked with them as they ate lunch at my run’s endpoint and they explained what 4K is. About a week later, my friend let me know that the Baltimore running group was at the Buffet Cancer Center. I then scavenged the website and found out much more about UCF and the good that you all do across the country. This is exactly the type of experience I hoped to take part in once my collegiate running career comes to a close and before I return to 5 more years of school. It will be incredible to honor my mom in this way, participating in an activity we both love while raising money for young adults affected by the disease that took her life.
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!