2013 February


A dedication for 3 remarkable women in a beautiful city- New Orleans #49

Dear Friends, I am running today in honor of 3 beautiful women: Melissa Miller , Becky Benz and Granny Whitson who just passed this week. All who have been taken from us much too soon without a fighting chance. I share with you their beautiful pictures, they are my “why” : For Melissa:
Melissa Miller

Melissa Mille

Miller49     Melissa was was a therapist, interior designer and garden designer who once owned a vintage clothing and jewelry store in West Los Angeles. She studied yoga and took very good care of herself. She was in her early mid 50’s when she died. She beat cancer once, then it returned after nearly 5 years. This photo was taken six months before she died. The day before she lost her five year battle with pancreatic cancer, she spent the entire day planting new plants in her home garden. Melissa woke up the next morning feeling very sick and passed later that day. Melissa, I am planting a garden for you today. A garden of hope, love and inspiration. This one is for you dear Melissa.xo For Becky:
Becky Benz

Becky Benz

Rebecca “Becky” Benz passed away on February 9, 2006 at 51 years young, after a six month battle with pancreatic cancer. She had a great laugh and when she smiled her entire face smiled! Becky was a hard-worker and had a stubborn steak a mile-long. Her family and friends were very important to her and she always took pride in the work she did. She was the kind of person that always thought to send people cards to let them know she was thinking about them. She loved her “Grandbabies” and sent them cards on each holiday. Celebrating her life are her children: Sarah (Jake), Matthew and Amy (Doug), as well as her “grandbabies”: Kane, Dalton, Bailey, Talon and one on the way, and Me 🙂 Every year since her passing, Becky’s family has held a memorial walk/run in her hometown of Mt. Pleasant, IA, with the proceeds going to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Thank you to the family of Becky for being a light in this world of pc. Just like Becky’s smile lit up her whole face, you are lighting up the world by creating hope. xoxo Becky and family, this one is for you. xo For Granny Whitson:
Granny Whitson

Granny Whitson

My dear friend Roberta Luna’s, who is an 11 year pancreatic SURVIVOR, whom I ran WITH a few marathons ago. Sadly, her mother passed away just this week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2005. She had been fighting for awhile. Roberta says she is with her dad & God now with no more pain. Roberta, your mother was a fighter and it is with that strength and love that I will run marathon #49 in her memory and what an honor it is.
It is going to be a beautiful run, there will be rain to help the garden of hope grow for Melissa, there will be smiles for Becky to light up those who are in need and strength & love for Granny so that we can continue to show how tough we are and that we can one day find a cure for this terrible disease. I am running through a city that once was devastated beyond belief. New Orleans has come together, they have rebuilt and they have endured, so can we. We can end this, if we continue to raise hope, awareness and money for research. We can expect miracles, believe in them and achieve them. We got this. -Love Julie. xo

#48 for Helen Valcarcel Stevens ♥

Marathon #48 was also dedicated to a very special woman, Helen Valcarcel Stevens who was just 48 when she passed. 🙁  

Helen 🙂

Helen lived only 3 months after her diagnosis. Helen’s brother Jim contacted me after he heard a radio interview after the PF Changs Rocknroll Arizona marathon and when I read his email I knew that #48 was for Helen.
She had one child, Charles, and then right after she passed away her first grandchild was born. At last she got to see the scan of his mothers belly before she passed.
Her son Charles and two  grandchildren Jake and Zack the older. So cute :)

Her son Charles and two
grandchildren Jake and Zack the older. So cute 🙂

Helen was a kind hearted person that loved her child dearly and had a great relationship with him. She was a single mother, and knew the hard issues of life . Jim says in a way I remind him of his sister Helen (honored) . Helen had strong convictions about things in life and was very smart. She was one of four kids they always thought Helen was the smart one of the lot. She was humble and would have never fessed up to being so smart. Non only was Helen Jim’s only sister but his dearest friend, they spoke every day. Jim goes on to say to me that in a world that sometimes can be rather cold and dark, I am a ray of sunshine. Thank you Jim 🙂 I am honored to hear those words, as sunshine and hope is my message through out this journey, that warms my heart. I know this blog does not do your sister justice, there is so much more to be said here for the amazing woman that she was. I thought about her yesterday while I was running, her beauty, her intellect, and her young age. She did not deserve this, nor did my father, Dino, Steve and all those affected. They deserved better, and that is my mission. To raise hope, awareness and put an end to this terrible disease that has taken the lives of so many. Jim just lost his brother in law last night from skin cancer. Jim I am so sorry, all cancers suck! There is no other way to say it. I am sorry for your loss. In honor of your sister, your brother and law and so many others, I will my part to put an end to this madness. We wish you and the family, all survivors and those currently fighting a healthy and happy future. We all deserve better. We got this! Julie. xo      

Today is a good day! #48 for Dino Murphy xo

I woke up this morning and instantly thought of the 3 people I was running for today. Dino Murphy being one of them. I went to look at an email his sister Nancy sent me and these words stood out: “Today is a good day”, and you know what? It was. Dino was full of life. Even on his worst days, you could call and ask how he was doing. He’d say “Today is a good day”. I love that. That became their family mantra and they have bracelets that say that with his name. Dino told his sister he didn’t want to be a poster child for cancer but she knew that she would fight for him and people would know who he was. Dino was a Lt Col in the Army. He had a wife and three kids. He was diagnosed at 44 years old on Dec 10, 2009 and passed a little less than a year later at 45 yrs old on Nov 26, 2010. Dino’s sister Nancy thanked me for giving him life this weekend. Nancy, thank you for letting me, it is an honor. Dino is buried at Ft Sam Houston Cemetery just down the road in San Antonio. Today when I was running I kept seeing soldiers cheering me on and I thought of Dino. I high fived the soldiers in Dino’s honor and when the marathon got tough I said out loud ‘Today is a good day”and I didn’t care if people thought I was crazy. Crazy in a good way. Dino’s sister Nancy and I have been in contact almost this whole journey trying to figure out a race for me to run in Dino’s honor and today was the perfect day. I had so much support out there from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and knew I was meant to run for Dino today.
Pancan water station, bigtime support. eyes closed, I am running in my sleep :)

Pancan water station, bigtime support. eyes closed, I am running in my sleep 🙂

  Nancy, it was an honor to run in Dino’s memory today. I felt him smiling down on me. Today was beautiful and a true gift to run for your brother. Dino 2 Sending all my best wishes to Dino’s family and all of those affected by pancreatic cancer. I will keep on fighting to help put an end to this terrible disease that has taken the lives of too many beautiful people like Dino, long after my 52 marathons. We will put an end to it. We got this! With Love and deep grattitude, Julie xo

Go Team Hanzlik!!

I ran for one of my Hero’s today: for Steve Hanzlik fighting pancreatic cancer. Steve, I hope you read this and know that today was a LOVE FEST. Seriously, I have never felt so much love and support in a marathon. I had friends by my side, I had you and Heather on my mind all day. Then at mile 23 I see this:
I couldn't believe my eyes :D

I couldn’t believe my eyes 😀

When I was running today, I was not having such an easy time, but this sign and Lesley’s beautiful smile was a sight for sore eyes. I thought about Steve and his fight. I kept on going, having faith and keeping the hope alive. That is what we do, we are Teamhope and Team Hanzlik. I was meant to run for Steve Hanzlik today, I got a facebook note from his sister Heather and felt an instant urge to do what I could to help. Please got to this beautiful website she created and do what you can to help. Here is the message from Heather on the home page of http://www.team-hanzlik.com/:
Steve Hanzlik

Steve Hanzlik

  Steve is my eldest brother – he is also a son, a husband, a father, a friend! He was born in Austin, Texas (a Longhorn fan to the core!) 17 August 1964. After traveling the globe with our family as a ‘military brat’ he married Dodie Jean Faunce, 10 December 1983. He joined the Army on 28 December 1983 and spent 4 years in Germany as a member of our Armed Forces. Steve and Dodie had their first son, Drew, on 6 June 1990 and their second son, Austin, on 11 December 1992. When our father died,11 November 1993, he stepped up as patriarch of our family. He has always shown up for anyone who needed anything, whether that be family, friends or unknown friends. Steve was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer on 7 November 2012. He is currently under the care of the best doctors in the Pancreatic Cancer field at John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. His cancer has progressed VERY rapidly. Steve has always prided himself on his ability to provide for his family and continues to do so to the best of his ability. Although he does have medical insurance that will help cover some of the treatments, he is going to need assistance in order to defray additional medical costs. I was honored to run for Steve today, please do what you can to help. Prayers, donations, love, hope it all matters. I pushed through today, never giving up, not for one second. Keeping the hope alive, that is what I do. Now I hope I can do that for Steve. And Steve, since you were born here and know the motto of “Keep Austin Weird” Here is something to make you smile. Keep smiling. You are in my prayers and now in the prayers of everyone reading this blog. Let the healing begin. Have an inspired recovery, we got this. xo-Julie
Keep Austin Weird :D

Keep Austin Weird 😀


Marathon #48- For Dino, Steve and Helen- This ones for you. We got this. xo

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 8.25.51 PM Marathons are so symbolic of life. Lao Tzu said The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and here I am about to finish 1,257 miles. We have come a long way and it has been worth every step. The next 26.2 miles I am about to run here in Austin, Texas all have symbolism. For Dino, a brave soul who is buried here in Austin. For Steve fighting for his life, who was born here and Helen who passed away at the young age of 48. As I run marathon #48 I dedicate my run to these brave souls and all those affected from pancreatic cancer:

Helen Valcarcel Stevens

Dino Murphy

Dino Murphy

Steve Hanzlik

Steve Hanzlik- Keep fighting. You got this! Go Team Hanzlik!

Run by my side;
live in my heartbeat;
give strength to my steps
As the cold surrounds me,
as the wind pushes me,
I know you surround me.
As the sun warms me,
as the rain cleanses me,
I know you are touching me,
challenging me, loving me.
And so I give you this run.
Thank you for matching my stride.
I will post each dedication separately tomorrow after the race, I just want you all to know, that my heart goes out to every one of you who are in someway affected from this terrible disease. Although I may be tired, I know this is nothing, I mean nothing compared to the fight these brave souls and so many others have to endure . It is my life’s mission, not to beat the time on the clock, but beat pancreatic cancer and that is my only competitor out there tomorrow, and we intend to win. With love and deep gratitude. Dino, Steve and Helen, this one is for you. We got this. xoxo -Julie  

A little piece of Heaven- Marathon #47(pt 2-Miles 9-17) For Nain Gonzales

Courtneylee wrote to me a few marathons ago. She is PanCAN’s Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Rhode Island affiliate. She volunteers in memory of Nain Gonzales who was diagnosed on June 30th 2011 and lost his battle to pancreatic cancer exactly 5 months later at the age of 42, just 46 days before his first and only child was born. She carried his daughter, Amara, for him and his wife because his wife lost her uterus to cervical cancer 10 years prior. She went into the journey hoping to make them both parents, start their family and help their dreams come true. Although all that was accomplished, Amara will never know her father. Pancreatic cancer robbed her from one of the greatest relationships in the world – a father/daughter one. For the Gonzales family and for all families affected by pancreatic cancer, she, like me and so many of us will not stop volunteering and hoping to make a difference. As you can imagine it has been a roller coaster of emotions for them. But they are so thankful to have Amara, a special piece of Nain. Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 9.55.32 PM   Nain was the type of person that everyone loved as soon as you meet him. He had the greatest smile, he was kind, cherished his wife and family, had fantastic morals and always helped everyone he could. At 42 years old, he has so much to still live for, but in the short time he was here, the accomplishments he achieved will live on in everyone who knew him or learns about him. Amara will definitely know how amazing her daddy was. Volunteering with PanCAN and realizing Courtneylee was not in this alone mad her feel better – it will not bring back our loved ones, she says, but she feel like she is doing something to help others, even if just one person. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you Courtneylee you are beautiful. As I run this marathon I will imagine Nain’s beautiful spirit running with me, helping me up those mountains. It’s like I am on the wings of angels. Courtneylee, I send you all my best wishes and if you ever want to come run a marathon with me, just let me know. For Nain, for Amara for Kate, for you and all those affected, this ones for you. We got this! xo -Julie For more information please read their article that was featured in the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2012/11/25/lasting-surrogacy-bond/ImLDykJbKfUVp81Sh7E6jI/story.html

A little piece of Heaven- Marathon #47: for Dwayne Jones (Miles 1-8)

  This journey has been filled with so many moments or coincidences, or signs from the universe that I am on the right track. Even the room key at my hotel today, look at this:
It's a SIGN

It’s a SIGN 🙂

While I was running marathon #44 in Arizona, I met Natalie. First I met her at the expo, then we saw each other around mile 6. We have something in common, unfortunately it is that both of our fathers passed away from pancreatic cancer. We were talking about our fathers and she mentioned that her father was only 47 when he passed. Then the sign came, marathon #47 is for Natalie’s father Dwayne Jones. Both of us immediately had chills covering our entire bodies. It was meant to be. So here I am about to tackle a marathon with 4,800 feet of elevation gain, I have no idea where I am (somewhere in San Francisco), but I do know what I’m doing, I am fighting the good fight against pancreatic cancer and today I run for 3 very special people. Dwayne Jones,the first part of my marathon is for you:Dwayne   Jones47
Dwayne passed away on September 15, 2007 at the age of 47. He leaves behind his daughter Natalie, her sister and 5 young grandchildren. He was able to meet his beautiful 5th grandchild just two months before he died. As children Natalie and her sister remember him as one of their own. He was always full of energy and wanted to “play.” He continued the tradition with the grandchildren as he loved to spoil them with anything from trips to the amusement park to picking them up for a sleepover at Grandpa’s house. He was always their biggest cheerleader and they will never forget the way he called them “sweetie” or “babe”. He was supportive no matter what!
Pancreatic Cancer took their Dad in just 5 short months. It was very frustrating for the family. It is so sad but true many of the doctors look for everything under the sun except pancreatic cancer. Only to find it too late, but we have hope. Like Dwayne did. Despite the physical and emotional pain he was enduring, he tried to always remain positive and was more concerned about the people around him than he was himself! That’s the kind of man he was. He is missed and loved every day. When I run up the mountain , I know I won’t be alone. I will imagine Dwane’s positive spirit by my side, guiding me, helping me and smiling the whole way. With love an honor, Dwayne this one is for you. We got this xo-Julie
Dwayne and his girls.  So cute :)

Dwayne and his girls. So cute 🙂

So much love

So much love

True Love

True Love

Whipple was successful last week and now I get to go home today. Two days after surgery I was up and walking and I didn’t stop. The team call me their star patient ;>
I am overjoyed and feel like shouting it out at the top of the mountain where I will be running this weekend.

Marathon #46: 3 Hearts for 3 Loves ♥ ♥ ♥

I run today in honor of Team Hope. On my team today we have 3 very special people in this dedication, well actually 4, at the 11th hour I just got another request. So in honor of these people and the thousands of others who are affected daily with pc, this one is for you. Today is a little extra special as I will have my beautiful friend, Roberta Luna, a pancreatic cancer SURVIVOR run across the finish line with me. Like me Roberta lost her father to pc, but not only that, her uncle and her grandmother. At the time she did not understand the full impact this disease would have, until now. Below is just a small part of Roberta’s amazing story I found online. What an inspriation she is. For Roberta and anyone, losing three members of her family to pancreatic cancer was mind blowing. How could this be? What about her sons? What could this mean to them? She had no answers; only unanswerable questions. Then the unthinkable, Roberta developed vague symptoms herself, and she knew. The doctors told her she was lucky: the tumor was small and it was caught early and If she started treatment immediately she would have a better chance than most. She started chemotherapy immediately, and also underwent radiation for a short period of time. Because of her early diagnosis, the support of her family and those closest to her, and the grace of God, she is still here today to tell her story and run across the finish line with me. But the disease still plays a prominent role in her life: her mom was diagnosed in 2005. Together, we continue to fight. Roberta joined the Orange County Affiliate and has the unique position to be on both sides of the fence, as both a caretaker and a survivor. Through her experiences, she now bring hope to those who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, survivors, as well as the precious caretakers. She wants to make a difference so that one day, no one ever has to hear the words go home and put your house in order again.-Roberta Luna Today as we run across the finish line together this will be symbolic of ending pancreatic cancer once and for all. Love you girl. xox




                For Noel and Kerry: You can just feel the love radiating from this picture?: Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 5.37.54 PM Kerry’s husband Noel was diagnosed April 2011 at 54 years of age with Pancreatic Cancer. I quote the following from Kerry’s story about her beautiful husband Noel: They had booked a family holiday to California, taking the kids to Disney and renew their wedding vows for their 10th wedding anniversary on a beach in Ventura CA. Not far from Huntington Beach where I am running today. Look at these beautiful children: Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 5.36.11 PM The doctors had given Noel a life expectancy of 6 months. They were not offered any other form of support or information. Noel’s had two daughters from a previous marriage. Upon the news Noel & Kerry stood outside the hospital just clinging to each other and crying. How could it be? How could she be losing the love of her life? There wasn’t a damn thing either of them or anyone else could do. Her two kids were losing their daddy and his older 3 theirs too, life can be so cruel. They had tried in vain to get travel insurance for Noel so they could bring their trip to the USA forward but it wasn’t to be. July 2nd they took their children to Euro Disney for what would be the last family holiday they would ever have. They decided that renewing our wedding vows was so important even more so now that they planned their wedding renewal August 18th exactly 10 years to the day they originally took our vows to each other. Noel was so sick he fought so hard. Every day he asked about how many days until our renewal. August 17th, Noel was released from hospital 24 hours before they walked down the aisle and pledged their love all over again, till death do us part. There weren’t too many dry eyes in the church that day!
Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 8.37.49 PM
One of Noels daughters announced she was pregnant. Noel was so thrilled but also so sad he knew he wouldn’t be around to see the birth of his first grandchild. Kerry knew Noel didn’t have much longer. How do you say goodbye to someone that is you’re everything? How can you even think about life without them? She had to tell her children that the angels were coming for daddy, he was tired. Seeing her babies climb on to the bed, kissing their daddy telling them how much they loved him tore her to pieces an image that she will never forget. She knew, it was time and she had to let her soul mate go. But she knew she would see him again, and that he will be waiting for her.
Noel was diagnosed Good Friday 2011 and Good Friday 2012 Harry Alan Noel Donnell came into the world looking so much like his granddad. A special time for sure but with so many emotions attached to it. After Noel passed, Kerrry threw herself into raising awareness & fundraising as much as she possibly could. At their renewal there were donations made in lieu of gifts which PCUK received £1200. In total £10,261.13 has been raised which is amazing. families in support of pancreatic cancer. Kerry I am so sorry for your loss of your soulmate. I do just want to say that I am so happy that the time you shared together was so beautiful, so full of love and so much light. That is the love we all dream of, but never to have to go through the pain that you did, so I will do all I can to put an end to it. Sending you big hugs as I imagine Noels spirit running with me today. All my best and Happy birthday to you. Hope it was wonderul. xo Julie For Greg Willard Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 6.25.34 PM   Since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 2012, Greg Willard has valiantly fought the disease with the support of his wife of 22 years, Laurie, and their children Bryce, Shelby and Weston, as well as many other family members and friends. He has also received tremendous support from his colleagues in the National Basketball Association (NBA), where he has worked as a highly regarded referee for 24 NBA seasons. Greg is a true role model. I met him at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network gala in October, where he was being honored. He said to me “I’ll see you at the finish line!” Today Greg just may be out there volunteering. He and his family resides in Huntington Beach. That would be so awesome to see Greg out there today. Yet another symbol of upon finishing this marathon we are going to kick pancreatic cancer in the butt and finish it once and for all! Love to you and your family Greg. Keep fighting and never ever give up hope. xo-Julie One more, to make it 4 ♥♥♥♥: At the 11th hour last night I found an email from someone who contacted me after my write up in the Miami Herald last weekend. Mitch, A runner reaching out to me and thanking me,who has been impacted by this horrible cancer. He says, “I am not near 52 marathons in 52 weeks but I am on my own journey in running being pushed by thoughts of my dad Please keep him in mind during one of your strides in the future and please keep up the inspirations you give to everyone.” Dr. Robert Mitchell you are in my heart today, and I will imagine you as we run together to end this awful disease. And then there were 4 and thousands more. We are in this together, putting and end to pancreatic cancer one marathon at a time. We got this ♥♥♥♥