Santa Monican Julie Weiss, who recently achieved her goal of competing in 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, has been named Woman of the Year for the 28th Senate District.
State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Santa Monica) made the announcement in celebration of National Women’s History Month.
“As long as there are the likes of Julie Weiss in our midst, women who lead through hope and prove anything is possible, there is a true purpose for a Woman of the Year award,” Lieu said. “By recognizing them, we give face to the unacknowledged they fight for.”
Weiss qualified for Boston in December 2010, a month after her father, Maurice Weiss, died from pancreatic cancer.
The loss was devastating, and caused her to look more deeply into the mysterious illness that had taken the vivacious man who went through the world each day with a pocket trumpet and the humor to use it.
She didn’t like what she found.
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancreatic cancer is the 10th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, but is the fourth leading cause of cancer death.
It’s the only cancer that has a five-year survival rate in the single digits, which means fewer than 10 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are expected to live another five years. Many, like Weiss’ father, die within months of diagnosis.
Almost every weekend for a year, the full-time accountant would leave the office after work on Friday, say goodbye to her children and face the grueling scenario of the next few days. It would entail a flight or lengthy drive to the next marathon location, a brief few hours to become acclimated to the new environment, and then a wake-up call hours before Sunday’s dawn to bare often freezing temperatures and a 26.2-mile run.
“My marathon schedule was nothing compared to what people with pancreatic cancer face every day,” Weiss said. “I was motivated to keep going and turn my efforts into something much bigger than myself. As the process unfolded, I found I could push through barriers and limitations I never thought possible.”
Weiss finished her goal at the Los Angeles Marathon in March. In all, she ran 1,362.4 miles. She also raised nearly $200,000 for the Manhattan Beach-based Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Learn more at her website, www.marathongoddess.com.
Lieu plans to honor Weiss Sunday, May 19 following the PurpleStride Los Angeles 5K run and walk at Exposition Park in Los Angeles.