By Zoë Christopher, Program Officer & Operations Manager
Though it’s rare, there are people in this world whose fearless hearts are so wide open and accessible that a brilliant light seems to protect their vulnerability, and they’re able to share absolutely everything they have to offer. It’s not intentional or done with effort—they just can’t help it—it’s their inherent generosity of spirit. These are the people who effortlessly bring us together in our shared humanity, the people who take us all in, regardless of surface differences. Most of us want to be in the presence of that light. Julie Morgan was one of those rare beings. Her generosity of spirit was immense, and it was natural for her to spark that light in others.
She came to volunteer with Breast Cancer Action in 2012, having been diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in 2011 at the age of 37. She was so interested in our work, and our staff fell in love with her humor, her wicked smarts, and her kindness. We knew she was a keeper! Within a year, she joined our Board of Directors where her expertise as a nurse, and as someone having experienced breast cancer firsthand, were invaluable and deeply appreciated.
What we didn’t know or expect was that she was a master at coordinating events! She enlisted friends to purchase tickets, perform, and bid on auction items for our annual Acting Out for the Health of It variety show fundraisers, overseeing the entire 2015 event and closing it out while nine months pregnant! She belonged to Bay Area Young Survivors and when they contributed a reading for one of our events, Julie brought her beautiful Danika, barely one-year-old, to the podium with her!
Julie was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2017, but she arrived at our annual Food for Thought fundraiser dinner with her crew, filling several tables in 2019, and she was an honored speaker for our 30th anniversary event in 2020 – all while undergoing treatment. She openly shared her experiences with her community of loving, devoted friends, her large family, and all of us at BCAction. She let us all shoulder a little bit of the burden of this disease and again, that was her generosity.
She was fierce in her desire to make every day count, to make memories to nurture her little girl as she grows up with her papa. She not only expanded our education from a patient’s perspective; she provided insight from a nurse’s perspective. We felt honored that she would let us all hold her close through the rough days, and celebrate with her through the victories along the way. And she did it all with awe-inspiring grace and class, to say nothing of her over-the-top humor that would prompt her to don a cat suit for her CAT scans!
One of our brightest lights left us on November 29. Though Julie did all she could to prepare us, we weren’t ready. But our grief over this tremendous loss, and our rage about the persistence of this disease, inspires our activism. Julie understood the connection between involuntary exposures to environmental toxins and breast cancer. She understood how little the medical-industrial complex has to show for all the money raised in the name of breast cancer “awareness.” She would not want us to accept corporations and regulatory agencies shifting the blame and evading responsibility, like the recent excuse from the American Chemistry Council for continuing to manufacture plastics: they claimed that non-toxic, biodegradable containers would be too expensive for consumers!? And she understood our determination to dismantle the fossil fuel industry that drives the climate crisis, exacerbating the breast cancer crisis.
Julie’s spark will continue to burn bright in all of us lucky enough to have been touched by her. For the rest of our lives, we will continue to fight for a world not threatened by breast cancer, a world in which Danika and all children can look forward to a future they all deserve.