Member Story – Julie Cramer

It’s hard for me to believe that I have not read the piece that my dad, Mark Becker, wrote for the LRG newsletter until just now. I’ve known of it for a long time, but for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I am a seasoned writer. I am an English teacher and I have a M.Ed., so I have done my share of writing and reading papers, but this task has been especially difficult for me. I think the reason that I’ve had a difficult time writing my “story” is the same as the reason I couldn’t bring myself to read my dad’s story until this moment. Living through it once has been hard enough.

I understand that might be selfish. I know that I am not the one who has endured chemotherapy and then discovered that the anguish associated with treatment was meaningless since chemo can’t truly treat his illness. I am not the one who has had more surgeries than I care to count, more days in the hospital than on vacation and more hours that I just try to survive than days that I am truly living. As much as I can, I do understand that I have no idea how hard it must be to be my dad.

But it is also hard to sit on the sidelines and watch the man that is your hero in so many ways fight so hard for what too many take advantage of—life. Since I was 16, I have been watching. I watched the night the EMTs carried him down the stairs on the stretcher and my mom asked me, “Are you staying or coming?” The police officer said, “Everything will be okay,” and the door closed and I was alone. I watched when he woke up in ICU and wasn’t quite sure who I was. I have watched countless more painful events. Most of them, I have watched alone, from the sidelines. Right now, after about 12 years of this, I’m sick of watching. I want to do.

The GIST Benefit Ball that I am planning really began as therapy for me. I thought I would throw myself into something positive and try to make something good come out of this struggle. I thought it would be a great way to spread awareness of this rare cancer and get people with the disease together for some fun. My hope is to raise $10,000 for cancer research this year, maybe even more next year. I will be donating this year’s funds to Fox Chase Cancer Center. In the future, I will be donating to other hospitals.