What would you do if you were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer? How would you accept that gut-wrenching information? Take a couple minutes and think about it. Would you live every day to the best of your ability? Would you remain positive knowing death looms over your shoulder? Most people would like to continue to live an upbeat life, but who really knows how they would react unless they are faced with that horrific news.
Jill Costello had to face that question and she chose to live life to its fullest. The 21-year old was diagnosed with stage 4 small cell lung cancer on June 6, 2009. This diagnosis was especially tragic because Jill was a perfectly healthy, non-smoker. She passed away just a year later on June 20, 2010.
Jill is best known for her role as varsity coxswain on the California Golden Bears crew team, for her enthusiastic personality, her fight to live and her compassion for others. Instead of giving up on life, Jill did the exact opposite: she continued to participate with her crew team, while undergoing chemotherapy. During the 2010 season, Jill led the Bears to the Pac-10 Championships and in the last weeks of her life she walked across the stage at graduation (with a 4.0 GPA). She also spearheaded several fundraisers for lung cancer research and was an advocate on finding a cure that would save lives.
It could have been easy for Jill to feel sorry for herself, for her to give up before her final days but instead, she chose to be positive, she chose to be strong and make a difference. She believed she could be the miracle to beat stage 4 lung cancer.
Jill's strong spirit has influenced those around her to live out her legacy, to help others and to continue the search for a cure for cancer. Jill's lifelong friend Kelcey Harrison decided to do just that. She wanted to make an impact on others and to raise money and awareness about the disease.
Kelcey set out a goal to run from New York to her hometown of San Francisco and accomplished that feat on Jill's birthday, December 1, 2012. She logged 30 miles a day, for 4 months straight: 3,500-miles overall. The Great Lung Run raised more than $150,000 for Jill's Legacy, a charity Jill worked with closely before her death. Kelcey wanted to make a personal contribution to the fight for lung cancer and in accomplishing her tenuous 3,500 mile run across the country, she honored her best friend Jill's tremendous fight against cancer.
This is the story about Kelcey Harrison honoring the life of her best friend Jill Costello.
Michelle Bowker is an associate producer for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area