Monica Henderson is a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh. 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 New York, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
Every family, every person has experiences and special bonds that hold them together. Sometimes, they are moments that bring tears of happiness or tears of despair. Compared to most people my age, cancer has touched me in a overwhelming amount of ways. This six-letter word has affected 4 of us. Yes, I say us, for I am a survivor.
At the age of 2, a tumor was found growing on my cheekbone, and just like that, me and my family's world was centered around Rhabdomyosarcoma. After two years of radiation, chemotherapy, and procedures, I was declared N.E.D. and have been in remission ever since.
However, my family's battle against cancer wasn’t over quite yet, and I’m not sure it will be anytime soon. You see, in 2012 my mom’s oldest sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. That year was rough, for it felt like we were starting over, trying to overcome a disease that brings so much worry. Thankfully, she was declared N.E.D. a year later.
It’s almost cruel how we did not even have a year to breathe again until another person close to my heart was diagnosed: my mom. My rock, my superhero, my best friend had the same cancer her sister had. I felt helpless and angry as to why cancer had to keep targeting our family. After a double-mastectomy, my mother was miraculously cleared of the illness as well. Cancer lost again.
Since then, I have grown as a person and realized the importance to advocate for a cure for children and adults. I kind of forgot about the impact of cancer, until it creeped back into our lives one more time. This March,, my mom’s younger sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Genetic testing has revealed that a gene mutation has put my mom’s side of the family at risk for a disease that affects 200,000 people each year- something that 3 sisters, aunts, mothers, and wives had battled under the age of 40. Because of their young age, my cousins, sister, and I are to get tested in our early twenties. My aunt is still fighting.
But I have hope. Because they are strong. We are strong. And if cancer wants to keep fighting, so will I.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?
I feel as if this organization found me because as soon as I saw it on my notifications, my heart felt full. A responsibility was placed in my hands. Through running, I find my inner self and raise money for different causes. But this opportunity is a goal that will stick with me for a lifetime. Every day, every second, I want to step in and take the battle of these children and young adults, relieving the shameful guilt I feel for surviving while they are still fighting. A cure is needed and everyday is too late. What a great way to express my passion for cancer advocacy than to literally touch the borders of the country with my story and push myself to keep going, just as I did when I was younger. Being a runner gives me the opportunity to give back and support a cause that deserves more attention. I am a survivor and my battle, my mission will not suffice until a cure is found. Let me use my hobby of running and ambition to change the world. I want to leave a footprint on this Earth.
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!
|Marty Wyatt||11/22/2017||$50.00||Nate Hemerly||11/09/2017||$100.00||William Krugh||11/08/2017||$25.00||Good Luck!!!||Hilary Ginter||11/06/2017||$200.00||Monica, what an amazing journey that you are embarking on for such a worthy cause. I used to work with your mom and I too have a mom and grandmother affected by breast cancer, so thanks for helping to fight this disease for all of us.||Erika Kitzmiller||11/05/2017||$100.00||So proud of you. Let us know when you get to NYC--we'll come cheer you on :)||Holly Strayer||11/05/2017||$50.00||You continue to amaze me, Monica. Bless you and your beautiful spirit. This is such an amazing experience. Love you.||Molly Lutton||11/05/2017||$100.00||What an amazing journey this is sure to be!! You are awesome Monica!||Connie Dewey||11/05/2017||$100.00||Dear Monica, Your strength, courage and passion for helping others is inspiring. Prayers for your health and safety.||Rosy/Matt Munoz/Hopkins||11/05/2017||$75.00||You are an Amazing young woman !! Thank you for bringing awareness !!!||Amy Colli||11/05/2017||$50.00||So proud of your hard work, Monica! Miss you!!||Yvette Brown||11/05/2017||$200.00||Dearest Monica, What a inspiration and joy you bring to this world. Your family is so very proud of you and all of your accomplishments. So am I. What amazing stories you will have to tell in your lifetime. Yvette Brown||Cornelia Brown||11/05/2017||$100.00||Good Luck on such a spectacular endeavor. It will be a journey you will remember for a life time. Love You! Cornelia Brown||Sabrina Oliva||11/05/2017||$100.00||Enjoy this amazing journey! What a great way to raise money and bring awareness to those who cannot fight right now. Best of luck!||Gee Tl||11/05/2017||$30.00||When Holly Strayer talks, I listen. Holly is a cancer survivor and wonderful person. Garry Laing||Patty Dolaway||11/05/2017||$100.00||Monica, Your note when I had cancer was so touching! Your were 7 y/o and it meant the world to me! It still does! You wrote "If you fill bad becase you had cancer. Don't fill bad becase I had cancer too and also lost my hair too. So don't fill bad or sad. I still think you look more buteafall than a flower. Love, Monica." You have a giving heart! I am happy to be able to help you! I'll be praying for you on your journey.||Anonymous Friend||11/05/2017||$10.00||Cynthia Chuang||11/05/2017||$50.00||You are an inspiration, Monica!||Lisa Leichert||11/04/2017||$200.00||Rosemarie Benenati||11/04/2017||$500.00||For my granddaughters, my daughters, my friends, and the Sciortino sisters.||Megan Stoughton||11/04/2017||$25.00||Monica, you are so incredible! Rooting for you!||Lauren Lapinski||11/04/2017||$20.00||You are amazing! I wanna be at one point to see you run! Love you!||Joanne DINardo||11/04/2017||$100.00||Best of luck Onthis journey Monica!!||Monica Henderson||10/30/2017||$100.00|