Julia's Hope Fund
All of that changed with one single phone call. Julia's Mom, Dawn, was home when she got the call from Montefiore Children's Hospital. The voice on the other end of the line told her that the orthopedic team needed to see Julia immediately. Her heart sank as she drove to Julia's school and signed her out of class. Julia's father, Henry, met them at the hospital.
During the appointment, their worst fears were realized. The doctors told them that the pain and weakness which started in Julia's right shoulder was not caused by tendonitis from playing softball as her local orthopedist originally believed. They said it was caused by a rare and aggressive form of cancer called osteosarcoma.
Julia was immediately admitted to the pediatric oncology floor. Over the next blur of hours, Julia underwent a barrage of tests. By the next day, the diagnosis got even worse"”the cancer had spread to both of Julia's lungs. A team of doctors was quickly put in place to oversee the next year of Julia's life. To combat the incredibly aggressive and fast growing cancer, Julia is slated to have 33 weeks of intensive chemotherapy"”two to five times each week"”that will bookend three extensive surgeries"”one to remove the cancerous bone from her arm and replace it with a prosthesis, and one on each of her lungs.
Cancer is such an incredibly cruel disease, especially when it attacks someone as young, vibrant and special as Julia. She is already battling the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy"”the hair loss, constant nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, mouth sores and susceptibility to infection. But through it all, Julia remains an incredible child. She is beautiful, kind, compassionate, intelligent and funny. She is so much more than that. She cares deeply about her family and friends and would do anything she could to help anyone in need. Julia has the potential and drive to do amazing things with her life. She already knows what she wants to be when she grows up"”a doctor.
Julia touches the heart and soul of everyone she meets. Even the nurses in the hospital fell in love with her. They were amazed at her will, her courage and tenacity. They called her "a maverick."
And even though she is battling through the most devastating, painful and frightening time in her life, Julia is determined to fight the cancer and reclaim her life. For instance, when she first found out that she couldn't return to school for nine to 12 months, she was very upset. But being Julia, she was intent on keeping up with her education. She started having home tutoring the day after she was discharged from the hospital"”and not by random teachers assigned to her case. Julia is so loved and respected by her teachers at Washingtonville High School, that each and every one of them has volunteered to tutor her at home.
The other night Julia asked her mom how she was going to get through this. Dawn told her that she would get through it the same way she's gotten through everything else in her life"”just by being herself"”and with the love and support of her family and friends.
I have known and loved Julia since before she was born. I am her aunt without the biological connection. I have been best friends with Dawn for 30 years. We have been by each other's side through the best and worst times in our lives. As you can imagine, the cancer diagnosis has been devastating. Julia has tremendous battles ahead of her"”and Dawn is determined and dedicated to help Julia by being with her every single step of the way. But that's going to take a huge financial toll on the family"”especially since Dawn is a divorced, single Mom to Julia and 13-year-old Jeremy. On top of all the medical and travel expenses, there are the everyday expenses to worry about"”including paying the mortgage on the home Julia and Jeremy have grown up in.
I passed a billboard the other day that read "The things we take for granted, someone else is praying for." I pray that one day Julia's life will be filled with going to school, having fun with her friends and looking forward to her future. I pray that one day the only remnants of cancer and this time in her life will be a few scars on her body. I pray that she will not suffer over the next year of treatment and that when it is all over, she will be healthy and strong again. I am asking you to please help Julia and her family in any way you can. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I finally have some happy news to share. Julia just finished her fifth and final round of antibody treatment. It was a long and painful process, but it's now behind her. She will continue to follow up with her team of doctors at MSKCC and figure out what comes next.
Julia, her great friend Erin and Dawn celebrated with decadent ice cream shakes from Black Tap in NYC. Julia is thrilled to be finished with treatment and is looking forward to re-starting NYU freshman life this summer.
As always, Julia continues to be an inspiration and the epitome of grace, beauty, strength and courage.
I love you, Jules.
Thank you again for keeping Julia in your thoughts and prayers.
Just wanted to give you a quick update on Julia. She continues to undergo monthly, week-long antibody treatments and is scheduled to have another later this month.
Fortunately, Julia's side effects were less severe after her last treatment so she could enjoy the holidays with her family and friends. In fact, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center gave her tickets to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Dawn, Julia and her friend, Erin loved the show and had a great time visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Julia is in good spirits and is looking forward to a happy and healthy 2017.
Wishing you and your family the very best in the new year.
I just wanted to give you an update on Julia. She recently completed the second round of antibody treatment. The side effects are brutal. So much so, that she's been briefly hospitalized after each round.
Julia’s first round of treatment coincided with her finals week of NYU’s Summer session. Up until then, Julia truly loved being a college student and living in her downtown dorm. She was getting good grades, making new friends and having fun experiencing life in NYC.
However, after completing that first grueling week of antibody treatment, Julia realized that she wouldn’t be able to completely commit to her studies while undergoing this painful treatment. So, after speaking with her very supportive and encouraging advisors at NYU, she made the courageous decision to defer college for a year. As with everything she does, Julia wants to be able to give her all to her education. She plans to begin her freshman year at NYU next Summer after finishing treatment.
Julia is determined to conquer this horrible disease and reclaim her life once again. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
As always, thank you for your love and support.
As difficult as it is to write these words, I know how much you care about Julia and want to know what's going on. The cancer is back.
The day after Dawn threw her a beautiful graduation party (Julia graduated with honors) we found out the cancer was back in her right lung. Two days later, Julia was undergoing lung surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where her surgeon removed the new growths. Two weeks after that, more surgery on her left lung.
The amazing part though, is what happened in between the first and second surgeries. (Or the fifth and sixth total surgeries, if you're keeping count.) Sandwiched in between her hospital stays, Julia started her pre-freshman summer session at NYU. She convinced her team of doctors to let her leave one day earlier than they wanted, so she could begin her college career on time. Not only is she taking all the classes required, but she moved into a NYC dorm with three roommates. She will continue to battle cancer while taking classes, studying and trying to once again regain a sense of normalcy at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
It's not going to be easy and it certainly isn't what we all had hoped and prayed for, but I know Julia. She will do this and she will do it the way she does everything else in her life -- with fierce determination, bravery and grace. Not to mention that beautiful smile and wonderful laughter. She will battle through like she did the last time, with her family and friends by her side cheering her on every single step of the way.
Once she recovers from the second surgery, Julia will begin a new round of antibody treatment to attack whatever remaining cancer cells are still in her body. And with the encouragement of her doctors at MSKCC, Julia plans on beginning her freshman year at NYU this September.
Please keep Julia and her family in your thoughts and prayers. It's a difficult time right now, but we are incredibly hopeful and positive that with the help of her doctors, the prayers and good wishes from everyone who loves her, as well as Julia's own indefatigable spirit, Julia will beat this horrible disease once again.
With much love and appreciation,
Sending my prayers and love to Julia❤️ Julia is an amazing young lady , you are a fighter Julia. You got this sweety
The support, prayers and love being sent to Julia and her family is amazing. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of Julia's life. Please continue to keep her in your prayers. A very special thank you to Julia's Aunt (Barbara Tunic) who created this page... you work tirelessly to help Julia and her family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Such a pleasure to meet Julia and her family. You will continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers!
Today is the day for you Julia...I will try my best, but not a moment will go by, that I won't be thinking about you! I got a few to shirts to wear !!!
Will be racing next weekend for Julia...God Bless you-
I have known Julia for my whole life.... My mother has been friends with Dawn for over 17 years and we both know how amazing both Julia and Dawn are!