The month of October is known worldwide as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so this month we’re highlighting Junior League members who’ve faced breast cancer. This Monday, we are featuring Junior League of Charlotte member Julie Brown as part of our Member Monday series. Julie is the Education and Training Council Assistant Manager and a long time teacher. Read more about the Amarillo, Texas native below.
1) Thanks for taking time to share some personal insights with us today. Can you give us some background information about you?
I am a Texas girl! I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, and attended the same high school my parents graduated from 23 and 25 years before me. After graduating from TCU (go Frogs!), I worked for Young Life of Abilene, Texas for three years, but then was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 24. I no longer had the energy to run around with high school kids, or so I thought, and began graduate school at Texas Tech University. I graduated, moved back to my hometown, Amarillo, and taught at a Title I high school for 11 years. Jeff, my husband, and I moved to Redding, California, in 2008 to attend, and eventually work for a small, international leadership school. In 2014, we decided it was time to move back to the South. We really did not want to return to Texas, and my one condition was that I wanted to live in a city with at least two professional sports teams. Once we begin to look around, Charlotte stood out! We love it here; it is home!
2) What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
The best decision I have ever made is easy. November 23, 2002, I married Jeffrey C. Brown; he is the best man I know! Is that perfect Ephesians 5 man Paul talks about, because Jeff daily lays down his life to take care of me (if you don’t know, I’m a quadriplegic), take me where ever I need to go, and help me fulfill my dreams.
I can’t think of a specific worst decision, but I know that I have chosen to be right over relationships which has damaged connections with people I love dearly. Not worth it.
3) What woman inspires you and why?
There are three:
1.My friend Tammy von Horn from Redding, California. She thinks out-of-the-box, serves those around her well, and chooses her family before all else. Years ago, she saw a need for micro-businesses for women in the Philippines. She partnered with these women to sell their clothing here in the United States. She made no profit. She chose to sew everything back into the Filipino women and their communities. She also has monthly dinners to encourage women in her community. I wish I could describe it, but I can’t, so I won’t. Just know, that these women walk away empowered to change the world.
2.My friend Angela Carter from Lubbock, Texas. She is the reason I am an English teacher today. She was there the day I was diagnosed with MS, was always real, but encouraging. She gave me permission to be angry and cry, but then to put on my big girl panties, and get on with life. Today, she is a writer encouraging women and men who teach to remember why they teach.
3. My friend Naomi Ketcher from London, England, now from Juniper, Florida. Several years ago she and her husband saw a need for crowdfunding that did not charge a fee for the fundraiser. Out of that need, they formed and now run youcaring.com. Although it is not the largest crowd fund in the nation, I know that it is run with great integrity. JJ Watt and Tim Duncan have both chosen to use it for their hurricane relief.
4) From start to finish, what would your ideal day be like?
I would wake up and take a 3 to 5 mile run, come home, make Jeff pancakes, and serve him in bed. Then, we would go to a Panthers football game, tell the people all around us how amazing they are, then to a Hornets basketball game, and again tell the people all around us how amazing they are. Both teams would win, and everyone would leave encouraged and happy.
5) What keeps you up at night?
People I care about hurting. This may start with Jeff, my family, my kids at school, or friends, but it includes the city of Charlotte. As an educator, I am constantly processing how we improve upward mobility through education, knowing that many of those students live in food deserts, and therefore do not have the nutrition for their brains to function properly, knowing that their parents are in survival mode, and therefore do not usually at the time and energy to sit with their children and help with homework, and knowing that many of these children are often the ones targeted by human trafficking. My brain is constantly processing how I can help stop our beautiful city from hurting.
6) If you could tell your 23-year-old self one thing what would it be?
1. Stop worrying about what other people think!
2. Live intentionally!
3. Not knowing my own vision at the time, I would tell my 23-year-old self to serve someone else’s vision.
Sorry, I have lived too long to tell myself just one thing.
7) One thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I am an unrepentant college football addict! Do not call, text, nor email me on Saturday afternoons in the fall. I am busy!
8) How has the Junior League helped you develop your potential, taught you something unique, and/or given you an opportunity that you never would have had otherwise?
The JLC gives me the honor and opportunity to encourage and empower other passionate women to become the leaders and world changers they were created to be. It’s that simple. It truly is an incredible organization of powerful women on a powerful nation to change our part of the world.
9) How did you find out you had Breast Cancer?
It was before a Junior League of Charlotte transfer activity. My right breast felt funny. I had Jeff check. As he pressed on the lump, I nearly passed out. Six weeks later, after two doctor’s appointments, two ultrasounds, a mammogram, and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.
10) What would you tell women who have recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer?
First of all, don’t give in to fear! Look at it as a bump in the road. Next, let people help you. If they want to bring you meals, let them. If they want to clean your house, let them. If they just want to come and sit with you, let them. Let people love you. You will need it.