Hello! My name is Ellen Kurtz. I am 30 years old. As I beloved daughter of God, I seek to follow Jesus and love others. Playing my organ is my favorite source of inspiration, and I love many different styles of music. I love to write, so I keep a blog and plan to write a book. Learning is important to me, so I’m slowly working toward a college degree. I taught in private junior high and high schools for 5 years and worked as an accountant for 6. Vibrant colors express my personality, and I love to dress tastefully and colorfully. I love to travel and experience the world around me. I dream big dreams. If you read my bucket list, I think you’d be amused!
I also have cancer. I was diagnosed at age 24 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The cancer has come back 5 times since. I’ve had 8 different kinds of chemo, 23 days of radiation, 2 stem cell transplants, and more than enough medication to fill a drug store. I take anti-rejection medication daily so my donor’s immune system won’t destroy my body. My lungs are shot due to all the cancer, radiation, and chemo. I’m on supplemental oxygen 24/7. I’m still not in remission. I’ve experienced enough medical trauma to make a bear turn tail and run!
Cancer as a young adult presents unique challenges. Medical bills and other needs eat away at savings. Stopping work due to illness means an arrested career and losing the experience that raises pay rates. College becomes difficult due to treatment, ill health, and medical bills. Dating and marriage can also become nebulous dreams. Forget saving for retirement, buying a house, or traveling. Did you know that bankruptcy rates among young adults with cancer are 10 times the rates of seniors with cancer?
Well, I’m still here, I’m still beating the odds, and I’m still loving life! In spite of it all, life is good. I keep dreaming. I keep reaching for the stars. I keep planning my future. Perhaps that’s odd because I have no idea if I will be here next year, let alone in 10 years.
Only 6 months ago I was looking at an approximately 6-month expected life span if we couldn’t find a treatment that worked. Thank God, we did find a treatment, but I have no idea how long it will continue working or if we can find another treatment once this one stops holding the cancer at bay. Each time my cancer comes back, I have less and less treatment options. I’m alive today because new methods of fighting lymphoma advance rapidly and because God has worked miracles for me.
I love, love, love to travel. 3 years ago, a friend and I drove from coast-to-coast in an epic 5-week road trip. I took a break from chemo to go, and I loved every minute of it. The beauty we saw was staggering. The adventure and discovery of life on the road made me come alive in ways I had never before experienced.
However, there was so much I had to miss on that trip. I didn’t have the energy to hike or backpack rough trails. We stayed on the well-traveled routes with the rest of the tourists. I chafed at all I was missing. I know better than most how incredibly short life is, and I had no idea if I’d ever have a chance to do the trip again and visit the places I really wanted to go. At that point, I didn’t know if I’d be even be alive a year later.
Fast forward three years, and it feels like a miracle that I’m even still here. I still dream of travel. I want to return to the beauty and connection with God I experienced on that trip. I want to travel to those remote areas I had to miss on that trip because I didn’t have the physical ability. In the time I have left, whether that’s months or 1 year or a couple years, I’d like to travel the country in a 4×4 truck camper. I can use my limited income wisely while traveling easily. I would focus on speaking about my story and my life, writing a book, and keeping up my blog. I could combine travel with my daily life while fulfilling two dreams: travel and writing.
However, I can, in no way, afford to buy my own camper or even purchase a van or truck and convert it. Plus, I neither have the time or the funds to save up for it. So, that leaves you. I need help. Are you interested? Would you like to hear more of my story? Do you want to help make my dreams come true during whatever time I have left on earth by contributing to my funding campaign? If so, click the links below to get started.
My funding page on GoGetFunding: My Tiger Adventure