By Brianna Ruffalo
Julie Visner, student counselor at COC, still has an undeniable passion for advising students after receiving a shocking diagnosis in 2009.
Julie has been a counselor at the college since 1985 and a staff member since 1981, starting out with program advising. Julie started her journey at Pierce College and eventually transferred to CSUN, where she achieved her M.A. in Educational Psychology and Counseling.
Originally, her plan was to major in Animal Science and Pre-Vet/Equine Science, but she switched over to Psychology after loving her student peer advisor position at Pierce. Fortunately for COC, the enjoyment of her college internships and experience as a psychology major led her to become a college counselor.
However, the last few years have required changes to her counseling schedule due to a diagnosis she would have never imagined. In 2009 after receiving blood test results, Julie was blind-sided by a diagnosis of terminal blood cancer in her blood plasma called Multiple Myeloma.
After going through many difficult treatments with steroids, chemotherapy and stem cells, Julie went from having 70% cancer in her system to 10%. During the time of the stem cell transplant, Julie was put in isolation for an entire month at the City of Hope hospital, which she described as nothing less than a “head spin.”
Slowly, she has been working her way back into doing what she loves most. For all of the students and staff members curious why she is still working in her condition, “Well, helping you guys is helping me. It gives me a sense of purpose; I’m alive, still functional and capable in the real world,” said Visner.
“My passion is seeing students get to their goal and find their passion, and I get excited when they get excited about researching degrees, majors, and careers and finding their excitement in their life. That to me is more exciting than a cruise or traveling the world. I’m doing what I want to do at this point in my life.”
I am extremely fortunate to have met Julie this year, as a friend and as an advisor. Not only has she helped me map out the rest of my time at COC and encouraged my dreams, but I have found her energy to be contagious. In every appointment I laugh constantly at her humor and leave happier than I came in.
One thing is clear, Julie is not just a counselor. She is an inspiration.
To follow Julie’s entire story and updates, you can visit her blog at http://juliesmyelomamoments.blogspot.com.
Throughout her blog, Julie has explained each of the procedures, experiences and feelings she has overcome with cancer, along with her current struggles. She fills her entries with lighthearted jokes and humor, giving her readers a glimpse of her positive personality and outlook on her diagnosis.
If you would like to participate in supporting or raising awareness for cancer, you can visit main.acsevents.org and pages.lightthenight.org.
Julie Visner has shown College of the Canyons the true definition of a fighter, and we are all rooting for her!