Western Springs woman takes on Hancock in memory of mom
Julie Mulhern with her children. Mulhern will participate in the Hustle up the Hancock to help raise funds for the Respiratory Health Association.
How to help
To support Julie Mulhern in her fundraising efforts, visit www.lungchicago.org/juliemulhern.
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:04AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — When Pat Ruth, 77, passed away on July 3, 2012 from the lung cancer that had spread to her brain, her daughter, Western Springs resident Julie Mulhern, went in search of a way to prevent her death from being in vain. Mulhern will honor her mom’s memory, build awareness of lung cancer and raise funds for research Feb. 24 by climbing 94 floors during the Respiratory Health Association’s Hustle Up the Hancock fundraiser.
Q. How did your mother’s diagnosis come about?
A. She first hospitalized with pneumonia in 2009. While she was in the hospital, she underwent a series of tests, and that’s when they discovered she had stage 3 lung cancer.
Q. You’ve described your mother’s diagnosis as a shock. Why was that?
A. She grew up in the ’40s and ’50s, and she’d smoked. But coming from such a large family, we never experienced cancer before. We were shocked it happened in our family. She was the glue that held the family together, and it was like, “No, not her.”
Q. How did you help your mother through the treatment?
A. I have three sisters and two brothers, and we just supported her in any way we could. Whoever could take her to her doctor’s and chemotherapy appointments did so. We would sit with her and laugh with her. It was never a gloom and doom thing. We just kept an optimistic view.
Q. What is it about this experience with your mother that led you to Hustle Up the Hancock?
A. I always thought it would be a cool thing to do, even before I knew it had anything to do with respiratory health. I thought it would be good for my personal health. Then one day after she died, I Googled it and saw that it helped raise money for lung cancer research. I was then like, “That’s it; I’m going to do this.” I almost feel like she almost brought me to do it.
Q. What have you learned through your experience with your mother about your own health?
A. I just think we grew up in a different generation. Like I would never think of smoking, and she did. I just want to be more aware of my health, and in her era, nothing was ever a concern. We’re so much more educated than they were. One thing I did learn from her is that whatever came her way, she would do whatever she had to do and deal with it. If I were diagnosed with something like this tomorrow, I would do what she did. She never once had the attitude like “Poor me.” She said, “I could sit here and say, ‘why me?’ but I sit here and say, ‘Why not me?’ It can happen to me just like to anyone else.”