The summer of 2012, Jessica Runk was getting ready for her senior year of college at the University of Notre Dame when her mother, Lori, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was a shock to the whole family, but it was important to everyone that life continued as normal as it possibly could, so Jessica traveled to Indiana to begin her final year of undergraduate.
She called home every week to check on her mom and came home on breaks, sometimes taking Lori to chemotherapy while she was home.
“That was a little scary,” Jessica said. “I hadn’t done it or been that person who took her consistently. Watching her get it – it was stressful for me. I was worried if she was okay and worried what if something bad happened.
“It’s a weird heightened state of stress. You’re walking into an atmosphere where everyone has cancer and no one is having a good day. I had to really be an adult [in that moment].”
While it was hard for Jessica to see her mom going through this experience, Lori was able to come to a Notre Dame football game and attend Jessica’s graduation, which are moments Jessica treasures to this day.
At her graduation, Lori was finished with chemotherapy but not radiation, so her hair had just started to grow back.
“She hates all those pictures. But I don’t mind them at all – she was able to be there. She survived and was at my graduation.” And time with a loved one is more meaningful than anything.