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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Coming Full Circle: Kristen’s Story

kristen-young.jpgWhen Kristen Young joined the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation as Executive Director in 2022, she was inspired by their dedication to advancing breakthrough gastrointestinal cancer research at the Lurie Cancer Center. Just two months later, Kristen was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer at the age of 37. 

Having come full circle from raising funds for cancer research to her own leading-edge treatment at Lurie Cancer, the mother of two young children feels privileged to use her personal experience to help others. “Looking back, I know taking on this role with the Foundation was meant to be.”

Kristen’s Story

“I had noticed symptoms in February 2022, but I had given birth to my second daughter only a few months earlier and then the entire family got COVID,” recalled Kristen. “With so much going on in our lives at the time, I just assumed my body was out of whack.”

When she received her unexpected diagnosis, Kristen—who had no family history of colon cancer—turned to Lurie Cancer Center, where a multidisciplinary team, led by medical oncologist Mary Mulcahy, MD, and surgeon Mohammad Abbass, MD, mapped out her individualized treatment plan. “Dr. Mulcahy shared that because of recent progress in cancer research, chemotherapy is much more personalized today. They prescribe what is needed based on what they know works to achieve the best outcomes,” she continued. “That really resonated with me. Curing cancer doesn’t necessarily happen in leaps and bounds. Small improvements can make a huge impact on the lives of people and families going through cancer treatment.”

Working for the Eisenberg Foundation, Kristen feels privileged to use her personal experience to help others. “I don’t want others, especially young people, to be blindsided,” said Kristen, who hopes to weave health education into the foundation’s programming. “Don’t let symptoms go unnoticed. Have regular checkups. Make sure you know your family’s cancer history.”

Kristen values every dollar raised for GI cancer research so that Northwestern investigators can make new discoveries. “Each and every movement forward makes a difference,” she said. “Just by facilitating this support, I hope to help improve the care for others like me who benefited from advances in cancer treatment.”

We are excited to celebrate with Kristen and the other “Faces of Cancer” who will be honored at our 31st Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration Walk & 5K on Sunday, June 2. Register now to join us in Chicago’s Grant Park!

Read more: “Professional Role Becomes Personal for Eisenberg Foundation Director.”