Laurel Denney is a senior at Bemidji State University. 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 has impacted not only my family, but it has impacted so many people around me. In the fall of 2015, my mom’s doctor discovered a cancerous tumor during her annual mammogram. Thankfully the tumor was significantly smaller than most, but it was also very aggressive. Had the radiologist not discovered the tumor when he did, and my mom had gone another year without knowing it was there until her next annual mammogram, it would have been a much different situation. One I am thankful did not happen every single day. My mom underwent surgery two days before I left for Spain for a semester abroad, and thankfully the doctors were able to remove the entirety of the cancer. My mother underwent radiation for the following month, and was then declared to be in full remission. There are no words for how grateful I am that doctors were able to detect my mother’s cancer so early, and perform a cancer miracle. I know many other people and families are not as lucky as mine.
As I previously stated, breast cancer is common on my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer during her early fifties, and had a mastectomy for one of her breasts. Not only has breast cancer impacted my family, but peritoneal cancer took the life of my great Aunt Myrtle when I was only nine years old. I was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1994, and my family moved to Coon Rapids, Minnesota in the fall of 1995, where my parents had accepted new positions with the Star Tribune Newspaper. We returned to Colorado every year after that until I was 10 years old to visit my Great uncle Tony, and my great Aunt Myrtle. My Uncle Tony and Aunt Myrtle were my third set of grandparents, and the grandparents with whom I had the closest relationship with at the time. I remember every year going back to Colorado and sprinting to the door to give my aunt Myrtle the largest hug in the entire world. I always used to tell her that I had been saving it for her ever since we left Colorado the last time we had visited. Her nickname to my sister and I was ‘MeeMee’, and to this day I miss her just as much as I did when I found out I would never be able to save another hug for her again. I will never forget writing her a note on the day of her funeral to lay in her coffin telling her how much I loved her, and how one day I will be able to give her years and years’ worth of hugs. She fought a long, hard, four-year battle with peritoneal cancer before it took her life. No nine year old child should ever have to feel the pain of losing a loved one to something so awful.
Unfortunately, these are not the only encounters I have faced with cancer. This next encounter is not particularly my own, but one of my closest friends. Her mom was diagnosed with lung cancer during the fall of 2015, around the same time my mother was diagnosed. Her mom has undergone both chemotherapy and radiation, with her tumor thankfully not getting any larger, but it is also not getting any smaller. Her mom is one of the toughest people I know, along with one of the most genuine. Everyday she fights, is a day closer to remission. I am hoping for the day where she can say she kicked cancer right in the BUTT.
These are only a few of the stories near and dear to my heart on how cancer has not only impacted my life, but other loved ones around me. I would love nothing more than to be able to participate in the 4K for cancer run across the country to help raise awareness and funds for this awful disease.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?
I want to be a runner with 4K to not only help raise awareness and funds for young adult cancer, but for this terrible disease as a whole. There are too many lives taken each year from cancer, and I want to run to be able to honor not only my loved ones, but for so many other people. There are many different ways people honor and think of their loved ones effected by this disease, and this is how I would love to continue to honor mine. Another reason I want to be a runner with 4K is to run and be a part of a community who wants to do the same thing. Everyone running across the country with 4K has experienced the same thing more or less, and they know what it’s like to face such an awful thing. Running with a team through 4K will allow me to experience so many emotions and become stronger with so many other people who feel the same way. This run would allow me to grow alongside so many other people, and to show the nation that we believe in the fight for cancer. Running with 4K allows individuals to show survivors we believe in their fight, and it shows how we are pushing and fighting right alongside those who are currently effected by cancer. I want to be a runner with 4K to do my best to make a difference, and show everyone effected by cancer that we are all fighting this fight together.
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!
|Sandy Thomsen||01/22/2018||$100.00||Good luck this summer, Laurel! Paul and I look forward to hearing all about it!||Cory Page||01/21/2018||$10.00||Good luck to all the runner participating!||Leonard Emmen||01/21/2018||$200.00||Have a good run||Molly Asplin||01/18/2018||$100.00||Thank you for running for a great cause, Laurel!||Angie Kovarik||01/08/2018||$100.00||Way to go! So proud of you!||Peter Koeleman||01/07/2018||$100.00||Emily Thomsen||01/05/2018||$100.00||See you in Boston!||Allyson Plessner||12/29/2017||$30.00||Love you girly!! Go KILL IT ❤️||Halbana Tarmizi||12/28/2017||$100.00||All the best...||Young Seob Son||12/25/2017||$100.00||Hope you have wonderful memories!||Rachael Sarette||12/15/2017||$20.00||You are an inspiration and I'm glad to have you in my life <3 <3 <3||Sarah Gaub||12/14/2017||$50.00||SO INSPIRED BY YOU! <3||Kari Wood||12/13/2017||$100.00||So proud of you Girl!! :)||Al Nistler||12/13/2017||$20.00||Good luck!||Paxton Williams||12/11/2017||$20.00||PROUD OF YOU BBY!!!!||Laurel Denney||12/08/2017||$100.00|