By Deb Silverthorn
Team Genecov-Shrell is running the race of a lifetime; Julie Shrell’s lifetime. And with such support, she is bound to cross the finish line, front and center. Diagnosed in October with Stage III Ovarian Cancer, Julie turned to her family for support, and they’ve never turned back.
A Dallas native, Julie is the daughter of Dr. Ed (of blessed memory) and Sally Genecov, and the sister of Dr. Jeff and Dr. David Genecov. For the wife of Rob Shrell and mom to Simone, Marissa, and Gavin, the full-court push for support is at home and on the road.
“Right now I’m in remission, having survived a hysterectomy and seven rounds of chemotherapy,” said Julie, who, with longtime ties to both Congregation Anshai Torah and Congregation Shearith Israel, is a University of Texas and W.T. White graduate, and former charter member of the Sally Blum BBG chapter. “We’ve had a bar mitzvah, we’re getting through our daughters’ senior year of high school, and this wasn’t going to stop us. It certainly wasn’t in my plan but, so much for the plan. For now, I feel like I’ve done everything I am supposed to do, and everything I can do.”
“Being there for each other is just what we do, it’s what our parents taught us. We’re a family. How can you quantify that?” said Dr. Jeff Genecov who is running across race and triathalon finish lines in support of his sister’s fight against cancer. Pledging to run one race a month, for 12 months, Jeff has already raised more than $14,900 of the $50,000 he has pledged to donate to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. “Julie’s mission to raise awareness and to educate, to let people know the key is to catch the cancer early, is something I support wholeheartedly. She wants to help others and we want to help her do just that.”
A Caring Bridge site (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/julieshrell/createorsignin) on which Julie files reports of her own, explains symptoms for people to be aware of and other medical inferences may very well have saved the life of a reader – exactly Julie’s hope. “I heard from someone who had read my site and it just sounded ‘too familiar,’ said Julie. “It turned out the person did have cancer, it was pancreatic, not ovarian, but nonetheless she was able to be diagnosed and seek treatment. If not for the Caring Bridge and this situation, who knows if or when it might have been caught. There’s no such thing as ‘too early,’ to find cancer, and there’s no reason not to take a list of symptoms to your doctor and insist on testing. The best case is there’s nothing wrong. You don’t want to be one of the ‘worst’ cases, and be ‘too late.’”
Jeff’s “Racing to Erase Ovarian Cancer” trail has taken him to the Grapevine 10K, a TMS Duathlon in Ft. Worth, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas 13.1 Half Marathon, the King Tut Sprint Triathlon at Stonebridge Ranch and this Sunday’s Playtri McKinney Kiwanis Sprint Triathlon. The 2011 schedule, which will total approximately 500km, still includes a Playtri Swim Races (6/4), Playtri Festival Olympic Triathlon (6/5), Disco Sprint Triathlon (7/17), Playtri Benbrook Sprint Triathlon (8/14), Austin’s AVIA Triathalon (9/25), Miami 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon (10/30), Ft. Worth’s TMS Duathlon (11/13) and a 5K or 10K run in December.
“Most of the races are local and I hope those in the Metroplex will join me or come to cheer me on, but most importantly, I hope people will donate in honor of Julie,” said Jeff. “I watched my dad fight his own medical battle, and I watch Julie have such a great attitude and such determination. When the going gets tough in my own life, they inspire me. I made a commitment to Julie and to many others who will benefit from getting the word out, so even on a race day, when I’m up early and finding it tough to get going, I go anyway!”
Jeff’s donations, and race statistics and experiences, are being logged on a blog (http://racingtoeraseovariancancer.blogspot.com) through Twitter (@jgenecov), and through his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_182185308483620) “I hope people will follow me, in person or through the various modes,” he said. “The support is huge and appreciated!”
Twenty-five years an orthodontist, with offices in Plano and Dallas, Jeff attributes more than 25 percent of his current pledges to his patients. “I sent an email to my patients, outlining my plan, and, almost overnight the response was incredible,” said Jeff. “I’m hoping to receive some corporate sponsors, whose names will be posted on my race uniform, Facebook and blog. The more we raise, the more we can spread the word. That, in turn, means a greater population who can be served, and hopefully saved.”
“Religiously, spiritually, and ethically, this is what we are supposed to do. This is family, and this is what we do,” said David, a craniofacial surgeon and the medical resource of the family. “My sister has cancer, many people do. What we needed to do was to educate ourselves, and I’ve been able to help identify the best medical care for her, and I’ve been there to translate for our family what really is going on. Julie’s unbelievable attitude has been important and she’s responded well to the treatments she’s received.”
“What Julie has done to help others, throughout her life,” said David, “has come back many times over in these months and there have been many who have been there to support her.”
“Knowing so many people are behind me keeps me pushin, and keeps me going strong,” said Julie who, a loan officer with Southwest Bank, can count the days missed from work in the last six months on one hand. “Right after I was diagnosed we had a family meeting wit, my husband, mymmo, and my brothers and their wives and it was clear I wasn’t going to go through this alone. The diagnosis was a shock and we talked about what to do an where to go. It was all a lot to take in but with everyone around me, we made it.”
“From the beginning our family and friends have been there and they’ve been involved in every way,” said Julie’s husband whose sister Etta Barry came from Minnesota to be by Julie’s side during chemotherapy and whose Father Zel, and family members Janice Lazarus, Mike Barry, Sue and Dave Leon, Saralee and Rabbi/Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox have raised the cheering banner in many ways, including through the purchase of many of the ovarian cancer awareness bracelets which Gavin sold, for his bar mitzvah project. “Every step we’ve made since the first meeting, and going forward, has included the family, and there has always been a circle of friends and family on call to be there, at home or at the hospital. The support of so many, in so many ways, has allowed us to concentrat, as a famil, on Julie and on her recovery.”
“Julie has attacked this with such strength and bravado. She’s really gone at it full force,” said her mother, Sally. “Everybody has been there for her in the right ways and, as armother, I couldn’t be more proud. It gives us all strength and, as we see her now in remission, we look forward to what is next.”
“Adversity brings people closer,” said Julie. “My parents always taught us that, in the end, all we have is each other and we have to support each other. That’s a lesson we Genecov children are passing on to our own kids.”
Lessons learne, and lived. While the road is not yet fully traveled, the prescription to Julie’s success is those who are all around her. Run on, Genecov and Shrell Family – run on!
To make a donation in Julie’s honor, visit http://racingtoeraseovariancancer.blogspot.com or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read Julie’s story, visit https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/julieshrell/createorsignin. For more information about the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, visit www.ovarian.org.
Racing to erase ovarian cancer
By Deb Silverthorn