During the first Alton Miles for Meso race in 2009, St. Louis resident Julie Gundlach shared her survival story with attendees. She’d been diagnosed with mesothelioma and given six to 12 months to live.
“There is nothing so devastating as to be told to put your affairs in order,” Julie, a then 38-year-old mother, told the crowd of 300 runners and walkers. “Yet, three years later, I am still here.”
A few weeks later, she ran the St. Louis Miles for Meso 5k and finished. It was a tremendous feat considering that 11 months prior, she almost died while undergoing cytoreductive surgery, which included removing part of her liver, combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy treatment. There were complications. The surgeon put her in a medically-induced coma. She spent a month in the hospital in New York and many more months recovering at home.
Yet, within a year, she ran and finished a 5k in 42 minutes.
Then, she returned the next year to the Alton race and the next and the next and the next. For the past seven Miles for Meso races, she has stood on the stage and shared her story. Inspiring attendees before their run with her courage and fighting spirit. However, Julie is also heartened by attending the race.
“Miles for Meso means that somebody has my back,” she said. “And somebody is amplifying my voice against the use of asbestos and the industry of corporate greed.”
This year, she will again return but unlike every other year, this year is a milestone. On Aug. 23, 2016, ten years will have passed since doctors told Julie to put her affairs in order.
Every year, 10,000 Americans die from asbestos-related diseases – many of them from mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure could have been prevented. Companies knew about the dangers as early as the 1930s, but used the deadly carcinogen anyway.
Miles for Meso is dedicated to amplifying the voices of people whose lives have been devastated by this disease. When you register for the 8th Annual Alton Miles for Meso 5K Race & 3K Fun Run/Walk, you are becoming part of something bigger. You’re telling mesothelioma patients like Julie and the families who’ve lost loved ones to mesothelioma, that they are not alone.
Please #joinjulie by registering for this year’s Alton Miles for Meso on Sept. 24.