Women Who Inspire: Ana Duran

Ana Duran says embracing new challenges, startup mindset comes from overcoming cancer at St. Jude.

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  •  2 min

Ana Duran

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Ana Duran isn’t afraid of taking risks. 

“I’ve always had a fire in me to launch my own business,” Ana said. 

So, that’s exactly what she did. 

In 2018, she and her boyfriend combined his love of biking with her love of Memphis, the city where she’d gotten cancer treatment as a child at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

“We consistently received 5-star ratings and were starting to grow,” Ana said, even as she worked a full-time job as a product manager.

Ana Duran

They called their business Curious Bike Tours. But the thing about curiosity is that it sometimes leads you to new places. In 2020, the pandemic shut down the city, putting the brakes on their fledgling bike tour business. The couple set out for Washington, a state they’d always wanted to explore. 

Today, Ana works as a senior product manager at a customer support tech startup. 

“The life of a customer support agent can be such a thankless job sometimes, but we leverage software to make that better,” Ana said. 

The job is one of several startup businesses of which she’s been a part. 

“I’m willing to take risks and face challenges head on,” Ana said. “I think that some of that probably stems from St. Jude.” 

She said that receiving cancer treatment at a young age and living to tell the tale is a source of pride and gratitude. 

At the age of 10, Ana was referred to St. Jude after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in her hometown of Bogotá, Colombia. Even though the word “death” loomed in her mind, the doctors at St. Jude reassured her. The survival rate for ALL at St. Jude has risen from just 4 percent when St. Jude opened in 1962 to 94 percent today.  

Her chemotherapy treatment spanned two years and nine months. Ana felt she had to grow up quickly. However, she cherishes positive memories from that time, especially the friendship she developed with two young patients who shared her language and culture.

Ana Duran

“We attended the same school, engaged in various activities and explored the city together. It was beautiful,” Ana said.  

Ana graduated in 2013 from Smith College, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in French studies and psychology. In 2016, she received a master’s degree in information and communication technology business management from Télécom Ecole de Management in Paris.

She returns to St. Jude every few years as part of the St. Jude LIFE program, a research study that brings former cancer patients back to campus for regular health screenings. 

“I love going back,” Ana said. “When I was a patient, I always felt safe at St. Jude. And when I return, I have that feeling that everything will be okay, and they will take care of me.” 

And that boyfriend who shared her sense of adventure? He’s her husband now. They have two rescue dogs and enjoy biking, paddleboarding and hiking. 

Ana Duran's advice to women facing a challenging time.

“I don’t take having a second chance at life for granted because I know I have the opportunity to do something greater, and that drives me.”  

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