Running has always been a big part of Tyler Berge's life.
She ran track and cross country throughout her Enid High School career and she ran track with the Oklahoma City University track team, where she graduated this past May.
“I’ve been running every day for the past seven years,” she said.
The miles she’s run have always been for something. When she runs the 4K for Cancer this summer, she’ll instead be running for someone — her younger sister, Tatum.
Tyler, who now lives in Colorado with her family, will join a four-person team and run 4,000 miles, relay-style, from San Francisco to Boston. Every member on the team is expected to run between 10 and 15 miles per day for 49 days, starting on June 16.
Each runner has raised at least $4,500 for the Ulman Foundation, a Baltimore-based organization that provides support, services and awareness for young adults with cancer. Tyler’s raised more than half of her $10,000 goal.
It’s a trek she’s always wanted to run but she wasn’t sure she could do it due to her summer schedule. Now, it’s a journey she feels like she’s supposed to run after Tatum was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
“That kind of rocked my world,” she said.
It was May 2018 and Tyler was a junior at Oklahoma City University. Heading into the last week before finals, Tyler said she could sense something was wrong at home. Tatum had been getting a lump on her neck checked out.
“Don’t freak out,” Tyler remembered her dad saying to her. “It’s probably fine.”
But one doctor visit turned into another and before too long, tests were being done. Tyler received a phone call from her mom the Friday before finals week began. It was official. Tatum had been diagnosed with cancer.
“It was really hard to be away,” Tyler said. “Because it felt like something I should be there for.”
After graduating from Enid High School in 2015, Tyler’s family moved to Colorado. So, when Tyler got the call, she was nearly a 10-hour drive away from home. She was shellshocked to get the call.
“I never thought something like that could happen to me or either of my siblings,” Tyler said. "I don’t think it ever really left my mind.”
Throughout an entire week of finals, the news of Tatum's diagnosis never left Tyler mind. It hung through each final.
“I probably didn’t do as well as I could have,” Tyler said.
The new normal became months of chemotherapy. Tatum regularly didn’t feel good and could no longer do all the things she could before. So, Tyler and her family adapted.
“We had to find new ways to spend time together,” Tyler said. “For me, to be there as her sister, I had to kind of evolve and be ready to do whatever she needed.”
Tyler and Tatum were always close. But Tatum’s illness made them closer through difficult times.
“My whole family is a lot closer,” she said. “We make more of an effort to spend time together and seems more meaningful than it was before because you never know what tomorrow can bring.”
Tyler eventually had to return to OCU for her senior year. She left home as the family was waiting to hear if Tatum had made it to remission. Just like a year earlier, Tyler found herself at school when she got the word from home. Only this time, she was sent a video of Tatum walking through Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo., to ring the “Warrior’s Bell.”
Tyler’s emotions washed over her. Her sister’s cancer was in remission and the Berge family had to adapt to a new normal once again.
“It was kind of weird when (Tatum) stopped going (to chemotherapy),” Tyler said. “But it was a good weird.”
Tyler’s journey will take her across the country, where she will volunteer at local hospitals, be of service to cancer patients and endure a physical challenge unlike any other.
It’s a new normal, but it’s one she can embrace in honor of how Tatum embraced her cancer.
“I felt like in honor of her, I should do something that would challenge me,” Tyler said.