Julie McClain

Age: 25
Hometown: North Caldwell, N.J.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Single

Julie McClain was sick and in the hospital when she got an email from The Hill notifying her she was nominated for the 50 Most Beautiful List.

McClain was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The prognosis is good — her cancer was caught at stage one — but she’ll be in chemotherapy through the fall.

“I barely felt like me then,” she said of the 10 days she spent at George Washington Hospital receiving treatment.

But the health scare hasn’t damped the 25-year-old’s sunny personality or optimistic outlook.

“I was never angry about it because everyone has something in their lives. I feel lucky that mine is curable and I have people in my life that are supportive,” she said.

The New Jersey native has been open about sharing her illness with family, friends and co-workers.

“I’m very open about it. It’s just a piece of who I am and, in a few years, it’ll seem like ‘Remember those four months I had cancer, that was weird,’ ” she said.

McClain is staying active but has exchanged her running for walking and yoga. And the press secretary for Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is looking forward to learning to surf.

“The senator surfs and he really encourages people to learn,” she said.

McClain became a healthy eater several years ago, when she changed her lifestyle and lost 30 pounds. Her signature dishes are a sea bass with ginger and soy and a balsamic chicken.

“I love to cook. I hate to bake,” she said.

When she’s not in the kitchen: “I like to be outside and I watch a crazy amount of television,” she said, noting she’s joined the “binge TV” trend of watching series on DVD.

But, for now, she loves her job and her work in Schatz’s office, where she feels she is part of a family.

“I feel so lucky to have been in this office when this was happening because there is this phrase in Hawaiian — ohana — which is like your family,” she said, adding that after her diagnosis “I got an email from every person in the office expressing their concerns and well wishes and saying ‘You’re part of our ohana.’ ”

— Emily Goodin

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