James Burden is a junior at the University of Texas Austin. In the summer of 2018, he will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 49-day, 4000+ mile run from San Francisco to New York City, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
My first connection with the cancer community comes from when my dad started his struggle against colon cancer, which included multiple surgeries and several months of damaging chemotherapy. However, since I was only in 2nd grade, I did not quite understand the gravity of the situation. The simple fact that my dad was sick was all I knew, but I had no doubt he would overcome his cancer because of how strong my dad acted around me. Reflecting on that time now, 13 years later, I can only imagine how difficult it was to work through chemotherapy and cancer itself while continuing to act as a strong father figure for an eight-year-old son. Thankfully, my father recovered from his cancer. However, cancer claimed a life from my family when I was a teenager – my grandfather died of lung cancer due to years of smoking. Additionally, cancer affected me and my entire school when a close friend of mine developed a malignant tumor as an 8th grader. Witnessing her bravery and peace of mind, along with how my school surrounded her with encouragement and support, still inspire me. Today, I am beyond excited for the chance to actively come alongside the cancer community in a new way through the 4K!
Why are you traveling over 4000 miles this summer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?
When I first heard of the 4K for Cancer run, I knew I had to go for it. For me, this opportunity is like a fantasy whisked into reality due to both its purpose and goal. As a confessed running addict for the past 8 years, the prospect of running across the country and seeing the world in a new way with a team still feels surreal. Likewise, having teammates and friends to push each other and hold each other accountable is perhaps one of the greatest and most priceless pleasures in life, especially while relentlessly pursuing a common purpose such as supporting young adults in their fights against cancer. Ultimately though, the foundation of why I want to run the 4K lies in the connections I will make on this journey. Connecting brings meaning to our interactions with others, and connecting emotionally and physically with my teammates and with the communities we visit will be what defines the 4K for me. Thus, I want to share stories and hear the stories of people who have fought or experienced cancer, and I want to feel inspired to actively come alongside those bravely battling for their lives so that one day, no one will have to wage this war against cancer again. I hope that the sum of all the connections I forge on a daily basis will make the 4K an unforgettable, impactful experience for me that I can use to encourage others affected by cancer in the future.
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!