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Karl Burns and Ashleigh Underwood


When I think about cancer I have so many points of reference. My father’s numerous painful treatments for skin cancer, my cousin’s ultimately fatal battles with breast cancer, an ex-boyfriend who was terrified of contracting it again after a rough battle with testicular cancer….Too many people. So when Karl introduced me to the VICC Ambassadors I was excited to find a team of dedicated and passionate people who all had been affected by cancer in their lives and were willing to stand up and do something about it. I always thought that being a philanthropist meant having lots of money and donating that. I have come to realize that it is a dedication to a goal that is greater than just one person. Its as much about inspiring a community of people to take a stand on something that they feel strongly about it. And that is how I feel so……LET’S END THIS!!


I grew up in Houston, Texas with my mom, Kathey. One of the many lessons in life she taught me (by example) was to always give selflessly. In addition to being the role of mom and bread-winner, she spearheaded fund-raisers on behalf of my Boy Scout troop and volunteered at a local Women’s shelter in the Houston area. She taught me to be independent, demand the best of myself and work as hard as you can for something you believe in.

While I was in college, my mom’s body started to change. She thought it was a phase of life or that she wasn’t getting enough exercise. Nobody realized it was the beginning of something so much worse. When she finally got the results of multiple tests, her doctor discovered a large, immature tumor growing near her stomach/pancreas. It had grown larger than a grapefruit. The tumor was growing so aggressively that it began impeding the normal processes of her other organs, and they quickly began to fail. In less than six weeks from the day the tumor was discovered, she was gone.

I think about her every day.

I am involved with fund-raising for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center so that we can stop this disease from taking people like my mom away from us at such a young age. With your help, we will get there.

Karl’s Mother and Grandmother