I grew up in Dallas, about 4 blocks away from White Rock Lake. In many ways, I had the perfect childhood. Every week during the summers my dad and I would ride our bikes around the lake and then come home and dive into the pool fully clothed. I was the nerdy tomboy who played in the mud and, much to the dismay of my mom, brought frogs and garter snakes into the house. I was blessed with the two greatest parents I could ever ask for. Besides the chuckles of disbelief when I first told them that I wanted to ride a bike to Alaska, they have been nothing but supportive. I have an amazing sister, Rachel, who I have missed since the day I left for Austin. I grew up loving the Aggies but now I bleed burnt orange. I am a freshman at UT and have completely fallen in love with Austin. In high school I worked a lot with the disabled students and volunteered at a camp for disabled teens. They played a huge part in helping me choose my major: language speech pathology (speech therapy).
I dont know of anyone who hasn't been affected by cancer at some point in their life. I've known girls whose mothers beat breast cancer, and girls whose mothers did not. Cancer has affected me in countless ways: a classmate, a friend, my grandmother. Cancer has been affecting me since even before I was born. My maternal grandfather died of pancreatic cancer only a few months before I was born. My first real experience with cancer, and easily the experience that has affected me the most, was with my paternal grandfather. He was a soldier in WWII and smoked a pack a day for years. When he found out that cigarettes could cause cancer he quit cold turkey but it was too late. He developed lung cancer when I was still too young to remember. He would have huge surgeries and go into remission and a few years later the cancer would come back. He fought that cancer for years and never gave up. When he died, the majority of both of his lungs had been surgically removed in an attempt to stop the cancer. He was easily the most kind, talented, strong, and persevering man I know. I miss him more than words can express. I want to ride in his memory. I want to ride because he cannot.