What a shock! A young adult – living life – planning – the future – looking forward to new experiences – and then everything stops. CANCER!
It is almost too much to take. This absolutely can’t be! It must be a mistake. But it starts to sink in. I have CANCER. What does it all mean?
I’m Doug Ulman, 3-time cancer survivor. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with my first malignancy – chondrosarcoma. Within a year of my first cancer diagnosis, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma twice.
At the time of diagnosis I was a college sophmore. I played varsity soccer, studied hard, and lived with all the zest and excitement normally granted a 19 year-old. And then a routine x-ray revealed something suspicious. I thought nothing of it. But further tests showed a cancerous tumor growing in my back. I still remember the doctor telling me that I had cancer.
For me, cancer used to mean death. I used to think if someone had cancer there was no hope. But I now know better. There are new treatments for cancer, and many breakthroughs on the horizon. Cures are being developed in labs. People are surviving at record rates. There is hope! This can be dealt with.
Since my diagnosis and surgeries, I founded the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Our mission is enhance lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults, their families and friends, who are affected by cancer. It was a little over 10 years ago that several family members, friends, and neighbors sat around my parents’ dining room table and dreamed up an idea for an organization to help young adults with cancer. I remember the dialogue as if it were yesterday. We knew that we wanted to help others but we didn’t know what to do. We knew that there was a need but we didn’t have any real data. We knew that no one else was addressing these needs, but we did not know what all of the needs were. It was a lively discussion, filled with passion, creativity, and a burning desire to give back.
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF) has accomplished a lot since that initial conversation, including providing crucial support to thousands of young adults with cancer. This support has been accomplished by providing scholarships for those who cannot afford higher education due to their cancer experiences. By educating young adults and mobilizing them to be involved in the UCF’s programs, the Fund has helped numerous young adults learn to navigate the healthcare system. Much has been accomplished; yet there is still so much to do.
I am so proud of what this organization has accomplished since inception. The UCF is at a very exciting point in its history. Unlike the conversation around the dining room table dreaming up ideas, we now have some useful data. Young adult cancer survivors are an underserved population whose survival rates have not increased significantly in the last three decades.
It is up to The Ulman Cancer Fund to spend the next 10 years continuing to address these needs.
Thank you for your support of this most worthy mission. Without you, our hopes and dreams would not be realized.