Student gives back to cancer research that saved her life

Freshman elementary education major Julia Janes’ life was changed when she was diagnosed with cancer in high school.

“I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at 16,” Janes said. “I spent the nine months after that in treatment.”

Now cancer-free, Janes has dedicated herself to the cause and recently began a campus chapter of CureSearch, a national non-profit foundation that funds and supports children’s cancer research. Bradley’s chapter is the first college chapter for the organization.

“I started the group [on campus this October] because I wanted to help CureSearch,” she said. “It really helped me when I was sick. The research cured me 100 percent, so I wanted to get it out of Chicago and into Peoria.”

Freshman learning behavioral specialist Christine Dunne said she thinks CureSearch is a great way to help find a cure for cancer.

“As a child, I had Retinoblastoma twice,” she said. “[It’s] cancer in the eye, and both my eyes were affected. When I found out Julia was starting this club, I was very excited. I think it is a great idea to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Since I was affected as a child, I have first hand experience when it comes to childhood cancer and I know how important it is to find a cure.”

Freshman health science major and Vice President of Bradley’s CureSearch chapter Lexie Brasen said she became involved with CureSearch when Janes was diagnosed with cancer.

“Julia and I are actually cousins [and] we grew up in a very tight-knit family, so it was extremely difficult for [us] when she was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “[Participating in a CureSearch walk] in Julia’s honor was an incredible experience. It inspired me to be involved with CureSearch to inspire other families to keep fighting, to have hope for their children and to believe that one day a cure will be found. I’m hopeful that our college chapter of CureSearch will grow and that next fall we can attend the CureSearch walk in Chicago as our own team.”

Janes said she has been participating in CureSearch walks in Chicago for three years, and she would like to coordinate a Bradley team for the walk along with Brasen, in addition to other fundraising events.

“I’m hoping we can make a team for the [CureSearch] walk in Chicago every year,” she said. “We’re also looking for a big event to hold on campus during the spring semester.  Recently we finished the Halloween candy grams on campus. I think it went pretty well for a first fundraiser, especially since we’re still getting our name out. One hundred percent of profits went to CureSearch.”

Dunne said she hopes CureSearch will help educate about the different kinds of childhood cancer.

“My goal for this school year is to help spread word about the different types of childhood cancers,” she said. “It would also be great to raise a lot of money so that we can help support the groups that are searching to find a cure.”

Brasen said she hopes Bradley’s CureSearch will inspire students to support the cause.

“I hope that the CureSearch group at Bradley can inspire others [to work together] when it comes to finding the cure for cancer and supporting families who have children who are fighting it,” she said.

CureSearch raises funds to support research conducted at more than 175 hospitals across the nation. Each of these hospitals participate in clinical trials that are conducted by the Children’s Oncology Group, which treats 90 percent of children in the US with cancer, according to the organization’s website.

For anyone facing a serious disease like cancer, Janes said it’s important to stay positive.

“Keep your head up and think positively,” she said. “That’s what got me through it. Don’t throw yourself a pity party, and keep thinking positively.”

Anyone interested in joining Bradley’s chapter of CureSearch should attend the group’s next meeting on Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in Bradley Hall room 142.

“Anyone can join,” Janes said. “We’re looking for any new members right now. We want to make this as big as we can.”