Julie Jackson: A Survivor Running For Those Who Can’t

By all accounts, Julie Jackson was the picture of a young, healthy woman.

Julie spent her high school years in the pool as a competitive swimmer. When she began her architecture studies at Penn, she turned to running. “The pool wasn’t as convenient to get to,” Julie says. “I decided running would be a good replacement.”

Julie trained for and completed the 2011 Broad Street Run during her freshmen year of college. “Running is not something that has ever come easily to me, but I felt so strong crossing the finish line that day.”

Julie, like many Ivy League students, began to experience anxiety. She turned to yoga to manage her feelings. The success she experienced with yoga lead her to complete a Yoga Teacher Training at Hotbox Yoga West Philly. She’s now a teacher at Yoga Habit in Fairmount.

This coping mechanism would end up being much more important than Julie realized at the time.

About two years ago, Julie noticed a bump on the back of her thigh. She, like most otherwise healthy women, ignored it for a while. She continued teaching and practicing. “I unconsciously made adjustments to accommodate the growing lump, but didn’t really think much of it,” Julie says.

One day, Julie couldn’t reach her toes. “This is not a normal issue for a yogi.” It was then she sought out the advice of her primary care physician.

Still otherwise healthy and convinced it wasn’t a big deal, Julie was shocked when her doctor referred her to an orthopedic oncologist at Jefferson. “To be honest, I didn’t really know that type of medicine was a thing!” Julie says.

The diagnosis came back quickly: Julie had a soft tissue sarcoma. Her treatment plan was five weeks of radiation before having surgery to remove the tumor.

Since the surgery, her reports have come back the same: “No evidence of disease.”

Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, yoga was a constant source of comfort for Julie.

“In yoga, we emphasize being present and patient,” Julie says. “Those concepts are so important to someone going through cancer treatment. You can’t think about your past experiences and you can’t worry about what could be coming down the road.” Yoga allowed her to be cognizant and appreciative of where she was in her journey, but also gave her the focus to realize she was working toward the next step in the process.

Julie practiced when she was able throughout her treatment and would encourage others going through treatment to do the same, with the blessing of their physician.

Now that she is well into her recovery, Julie is rediscovering the challenges and joys of running. She will be joining Legacy of Hope for Philly Runs Free at the Love Run on March 29.

“Running was much more in my comfort zone than yoga, initially,” Julie says. “Since then, the relationship has flipped.” Julie completed the 2019 Broad Street Run but felt as though she struggled a bit to get to the finish line.

“I’m not going to feel the same as I did before my surgery, and that’s OK. Training requires some self-compassion,” Julie says. She is back in physical therapy and training hard to get her body prepared to cover the 13.1 miles.

Her motivation? First-hand knowledge of what the assistance of Legacy of Hope means to cancer patients and their families.

“Most people have physical reactions to periods of extreme stress, like a cancer diagnosis. Now imagine being immunocompromised, anxious about losing your life and worried about how you are going to feed your family. How is anyone supposed to heal under those conditions?” Julie says. “Legacy of Hope’s support allows people to focus solely on their health by ensuring their most basic needs are met. And even more than that, it reminds people that there is hope and there are people who are rooting for them, and that can make all the difference.”

Catch Julie at Yoga Habit in Fairmount every Tuesday at 7:30PM and join her for Love Run 2020 by signing up for Philly Runs Free. Not a runner? Donate to the cause here!

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Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Michael Rowe

Awards:

Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014

Bio:

With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.