We are honored to nominate Julie Spoerl for Head for the Cure’s Legacy of Love. In our situation, she is not the traditional “caregiver” that tends to be recognized for the Legacy of Love – not a family member or, before this, a close friend. That we did not have a pre-existing relationship with her before our family member’s battle with GBM makes her dedication and efforts to help us and our family member all that more admirable.
Only one of us has even met Julie in person, which was almost by coincidence less than two months ago; she lives next door to a very close friend and happened to be outside enjoying a spring evening while one of us were visiting. At that time, our close family member had only recently discovered her brain tumor; she did not yet have a diagnosis. Julie offered her help and support if the diagnosis should turn out as feared.
Two weeks later, when we learned the tumor was, in fact, GBM, we reached out to Julie. We were expecting what most would in such a situation of seeking the advice of a virtual stranger: a conversation about treatments and some recommendations for doctors; perhaps a few check-in text messages in the future. That alone would have been inordinately helpful and gracious. But that was not what we got with Julie. She has spent hours upon hours on the phone with us, discussing treatment plans, doctors, potential trials, and, generally, providing support. Instead of spending time as she chooses perhaps with family and friends, she researches potential trials for which our family member might be eligible, helps her get into to see certain doctors, and has connected us with this wonderful organization. At one point, we even said to her that we’d refrain from bothering her during her work hours. Her response: “This is more important.” This – helping a GBM patient who she had never met before and her distraught family members who Julie barely knew – was more important.
Julie has been absolutely essential – essential isn’t even a strong enough word – in helping us navigate through the labyrinthine world of GBM treatments, treatment centers, doctors, and clinical trials. Without her utterly invaluable guidance and insight, we can say without a doubt that our family member would not be seeing the doctors and receiving the treatment she is today. Words (and this submission) cannot describe how enormously grateful we all are.
The road ahead for our family member is long and arduous, no doubt; but it is off to an infinitely better start thanks to Julie.