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Alexis Barbour

As a cancer survivor, daughter of a cancer survivor, mentor to other women with cancer and director of cancer services at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Trinity Hospital, Alexis Barbour knows a lot about the disease. She is now dedicated to increasing awareness, support and funds to help local cancer programs through volunteering and fundraising. This year Alexis is running her 4th Chicago Marathon-and is asking her friends, family and coworkers for their help in raising $1,500 for Trinity Hospital's cancer services and  new infusion center through Advocate's Inspired to Run program.

"I wish I had someone who went through a similar experience to talk to when I was diagnosed. I want to make sure that other women have that support." says Alexis, who mentors young women with cervical cancer. "I am running because I am a survivor, and I want to fund programs that can help others."

Five years ago, Alexis was diagnosed with cervical cancer. "They call it the silent killer because there are no signs," she explains. "I was and am an active, healthy young woman-it can happen to anyone. That is why I always encourage everyone to get annual exams, and I support cancer programs that include outreach and education."

But that was not her first experience with cancer. Her mom, who is a nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center and previously worked at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, was diagnosed with breast cancer while Alexis was in college. Alexis spent the summer taking care of her mother.

"When I completed my first marathon and saw my mom at the finish line, I started crying," Alexis remembers. "A few years ago, I did not know if we would ever have that moment. You never know what cards you are going to be dealt."
Alexis is looking forward to another finish-line moment with her mom and celebrating five years of being cancer free this fall.

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Paul Kunas

Paul Kunas, an IT Security Manager with Exelon, started running six years ago-when his wife was pregnant with their second child-as a way to get in shape. But he put his running on hold when he found out their newborn son had a heart defect. Brendan's two main heart vessels were transposed and he would need open heart surgery. The surgery, performed at Advocate Children's Hospital - Oak Lawn by Dr. Ilbawi, was a success, and Brendan is now a happy, healthy 5-year-old.

"Going through such a traumatic experience really changed the way my wife and I lived our lives," says Paul, who stopped travelling for work to be closer to his family. "We were pretty blessed that Brendan made such a great recovery, and we wanted to give back."

An active supporter of Hearts for Hope, a volunteer organization that raises money for Advocate Children's Hospital - Oak Lawn, Paul wanted to do more to show his gratitude for the amazing care his family received from at the hospital.

"One of my goals is to run a marathon before I turn 40", says Paul, who joined the Inspired to Run team and is looking forward to having his wife and kids-Hayden, Brendan, and Reagan-cheer him on. "I want to set an example for my kids and I want a sense of purpose. What better way than to run the Chicago Marathon while raising money for pediatric cardiology at Advocate Children's Hospital - Oak Lawn."

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