Type of Sarcoma: Osteosarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: February, 2007
Julian Baultrippe was born Oct. 30, 1987, St. Paul, Minn. – the year the Twins won their first World Series. Baseball, however, did not become Julian’s favorite sport. He preferred football and basketball instead, and played throughout his formative years in community leagues and also at Harding High School.
At Harding, Julian excelled at both athletics and academics, and was well liked and admired by teachers as well as his peers. Cool on the court or in the classroom, Julian had a way of putting everyone at ease with his charm, charisma, and that megawatt smile. He held several jobs during high school including stints at Perkins, Cub Foods, 3M, Sherwin Williams, and the Minnesota State Fair. He graduated from Harding High School with a 3.9 GPA, which helped him earn two scholarships and acceptance to the University of Minnesota.
Undecided in his major and with a broad range of interests including music, sports, travel, food, fashion, and movies, Julian had visions of stardom and the associated celebrity that comes with it as a model, actor, and/or sports analyst for ESPN. If all else failed he would surely have his own show on the Food Network. He had big dreams of a successful future but then he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma during his freshman year of college.
So what happens to a dream deferred – a dream ravaged and destroyed by a relentless cancer and the ensuing treatment? In Julian’s case, despite the diagnosis and months of intensive chemotherapy, he had hope. When the chemo did not destroy the tumor in his right arm and he had to choose between saving his arm and saving his life, he chose life; and even with one arm he continued to live an independent life as much as he was able to.
When he had down days I would push him, encourage him to dream, to do everything and anything he wanted to do. But more than anything he wanted to be symmetrical. He told me once that he wished he could regenerate his body like a reptile. He was serious. He spent several months researching the most advanced prosthetic arms and even considered becoming a spokesperson for a biotechnical firm one day. He had dreams.
Yet even after losing his arm and resuming chemo and trying several clinical trial drugs, he kept hoping, expecting to beat cancer at its ruthless game. When the disease spread to other organs and many strategies were employed to save and sustain a decent quality of life, and when the pain became constant and relentless and radiation therapy helped minimally to slow the growth of the tumors and ease some of the pain – even then he did not complain. He was and will always be remembered as a gentle warrior with a peaceful spirit. Never giving up, and never wanting to let his family down. He kept fighting to the bitter end in a battle that lasted less than three years.
So what happens to a dream deferred? I envision that through death Julian has been transformed, miraculously made whole again, and is better than ever. I envision that he has a sweet job, you know the kind of position that is created especially for you with you in mind. Yes, I see my son, the handsome, articulate, fun-loving gentle warrior on the other side of life, battling forces and defending those he has been charged to protect – those he left behind as well as those currently fighting their personal battles with Osteosarcoma.
To make some sense of this tragedy, I had to tell myself that God needed an angel. He needed someone with the temperament and strength to go the distance. I tell myself that every day, but it still doesn’t make any sense that a disease so aggressive would seemingly come from nowhere, resist every treatment protocol, and take my son out of the game of life when he had so much to live for. It makes no sense, but it is what it is.
So what happens to a dream deferred? Those who love the dreamer will pick up where the dream left off. We will remember the good times during the short time he was with us as well as his valiant struggle to beat cancer. We will live life to the fullest and, like Julian, we won’t complain about our struggles. We will wage war on Sarcoma by joining the fight to increase awareness and funding for better diagnoses, better treatment options, and ultimately a cure for this disease. We will remember to live and press on to make a difference. This is how we will keep Julian’s dreams alive.