Woman looks to cross the coun­try for can­cer aware­ness

Char­lotte Hall res­i­dent to par­tic­i­pate in 4k for Can­cer

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

A Char­lotte Hall res­i­dent is rais­ing aware­ness of can­cer among young adults around the coun­try by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 4K for Can­cer run with the Ul- man Can­cer Fund.

Rebecca Howard, 23, will be join­ing a team of mo­ti­vated young adults for 49 days in the Bal­ti­more run, leav­ing from San Fran­cisco’s Crissy Field on June 18 and fin­ish­ing Aug. 5 at Fed­eral Hill in Bal­ti­more, to run more than 4,000 miles across the coun­try this sum­mer.

“I want to spread aware­ness about the 72,000 young adults who are di­ag­nosed with can- cer each year and I just want to leave some­thing be­hind in those com­mu­ni­ties about can- cer and how it re­ally does af­fect ev­ery­one. I’m ex­cited to be do­ing some­thing that’s es­sen­tially big­ger than my­self. I de­cided to push my­self and challenge my­self in ways that I never have be­fore,” Howard said.

She said she has a nat­u­ral love for run­ning but is re­ally ner­vous, ex­cited and anx­ious to be­gin train­ing over forth­com­ing months. She is also seek­ing help from the lo­cal com­mu­nity to raise a to­tal of $5,000 in do­na­tions for the Ul­man Can­cer Fund.

“I found out in Oc­to­ber that I was ac­cepted,” How- ard said. “It will be a team of 30 peo­ple run­ning re­lay style from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ev­ery­day while stop­ping in each com­mu­nity. The 4K for Can­cer or­ga­niza- tion plans the route with peo­ple who wel­come us so we will be stay­ing in places like church halls and schools. You ba­si­cally be­come a fam­ily dur­ing the trip.”

“It’s a great way to con- nect with other young adults and loved ones who have ex­pe­ri­enced can­cer and do some com­mu­nity ser­vice events, share sto­ries and get sup­port,” said Maeve Koch, pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor of the Ul­man Can­cer Fund and 4K for Can­cer. “We wanted to pro­vide a unique ex­peri- ence for the participants. We raise money and raise aware­ness of young adult can­cer across the coun­try which is kind of an un- der­served pop­u­la­tion in terms of re­sources they can use when they are go­ing through a di­ag­no­sis. Rebecca be­came in­volved with us through our Can- cer to 5K pro­gram and she de­cided to go a step far­ther and do the 4K jour­ney.”

The mis­sion of the Ul- man Can­cer Fund and the 4K for Can­cer is to change lives by cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity of sup­port for young adults and their loved ones im­pacted by can­cer. Doug Ul­man was an ac­tive col­lege stu­dent who was di­ag­nosed with chon­drosar­coma, a ma- lig­nant tu­mor lo­cated on a rib in his back. He and his fam­ily be­gan the Ul­man Can­cer Fund in 2001 for young adults af­fected by can­cer. In 2011 the 4K for Can­cer and UCF of­fi­cially merged into one or­ga­niza- tion. Since the merge, the 4K has raised mil­lions of dol­lars in the fight against can­cer.

Howard said dur­ing the 4K, run­ners will have the op­por­tu­nity to visit hospi- tals work­ing with can­cer pa­tients in or­der to give out care bags and schol- ar­ships for young adults bat­tling the dis­ease. She said she is re­ally ex­cited about meet­ing these peo­ple, hear­ing their sto­ries and hope­fully pro­vid­ing them with hope as well as in­spi­ra­tion with what her team is do­ing.

She grad­u­ated from Queens Univer­sity of Char­lotte in 2015 and has worked in mar­ket­ing, plan­ning and com­mu­nity out­reach with com­pa­nies such as Madi­son House Autism Foun­da­tion and Amer­iCorps VISTA. She cur­rently works for the Mary­land De­part­ment of Leg­isla­tive Ser­vices in An­napo­lis.

Howard has a his­tory of melanoma in her fam­ily and is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the run in mem­ory of her late grand­fa­ther and in honor of her dad who have both been af­fected by the dis- ease.

“My grand­fa­ther passed away from melanoma while I was in col­lege and I never got to say good- bye. My fa­ther was also di- ag­nosed with melanoma twice and has sur­vived. I was scared that I would be di­ag­nosed with it as well be­cause it runs in my fam­ily. That is why I al- ways wanted to do some- thing re­lated to a can­cer fund and a cross coun­try trip that has mean­ing,” she said.

“My hus­band’s fa­ther passed away from mela- noma as well,” said her mother, Mary Ellen How- ard. “See­ing my fa­ther-in law go­ing through that was tough. But he fought it as best he could. It was in his lungs and brain by the time he died. My hus- band had it on his chest and back and the doc­tors removed two spots tested for melanoma. Rebecca un­der­stands the se­ri­ous- ness of the dis­ease and as a young adult she can re­late to young adults more right now who are go­ing through this.”

Mary Ellen said dur­ing the 4K for Can­cer, her daugh­ter will re­ally find out what she’s made of.

Rebecca’s brother Robert Bur­nett was in the mil­i­tary and then upon re­turn­ing home he par­tic­i­pated in many fundraiser runs with the Ul­man Can­cer Fund. He said Rebecca will be the first in the fam­ily to par­tic­i­pate in the 4K for Can­cer.

“I think by be­ing in­volved in this run its go­ing to re­ally open her eyes to the way that you can make a dif­fer­ence and bet­ter other peo­ple’s life,” Bur­nett said. “It’s go­ing to be a challenge but I think the great thing about it is hav­ing sur­vivors and peo­ple cur­rently bat­tling can­cer will re­ally put things in per­spec­tive for her. As much as her legs will be hurt­ing there is some­body right now fight­ing for their life with can­cer. It will put that hurt in per­spec­tive.”

Bur­nett said his sis­ter will build relationships that will last a life­time and learn the im­por­tance of giv­ing and sen­si­tiv­ity that so­ci­ety has lost.

Howard be­gins the 4K for Can­cer train­ing pro­gram in January and will be hold­ing sev­eral fundrais­ers in the next few months, in­clud­ing a bone mar­row donor drive, to help raise ad­di­tional funds for the 4K run by May. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to https://ul­man.z2sys­tems.com/rebecca-howard.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Char­lotte Hall res­i­dent Rebecca Howard, 23, be­gins train­ing for the Ul­man Can­cer Fund and 4K for Can­cer this sum­mer.

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