- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Austin, TX
- School Year: Junior
- Major: Plan II, Biochemistry, French
- Email: email@example.com
About: Born and raised in Austin, Texas. Currently studying Plan II and French. Hoping to go to earn an MD/MPH after graduation. Loves raccoons, sushi, and comfortable jeans.
Why I Ride
I studied the wrinkles carving valleys through her cheeks. She shoveled sticky rice into her mouth with long wooden chopsticks. Hunched over her bowl, her fragile limbs moved quickly between the dishes strewn about the table. When she laughed, the corners of her mouth pulled up and in to reveal pink gums growing over small yellowing corn chip teeth. I could not understand her Japanese or her heavily accented and grammatically incorrect English, so I just sat and listened to her chewing. I was thirteen the first time I met my grandmother at her home on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. She had always existed as this elusive and far away figure. She left Japan shortly before World War II erupted. She spent her time in Japan as a nurse for the Imperial Army in the 1930s. While in Japan, she married my grandfather, an American Soldier. My grandfather’s strict catholic values did not agree with my father’s decision to marry and have children with a Jewish woman. He refused to meet me and it was only after his death that I was finally able to meet my grandmother. She had written me letters in Japanese and spoken of her excitement to meet me to my father. I remember fiddling with my sweaty hands as I stood in her doorway, unsure of what to expect. After that first meeting, I felt like I never knew what it was I had been missing. Everything about her mesmerized me. I wanted to sit and listen to her talk about Japan, her time as a nurse, her move to the United States, her favorite type of sushi, how she liked her tea, and how to make perfect sticky rice. I wanted to get to know her. She seemed inexplicably wise and indestructible. Several months after that first (and last) meeting, my grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer. When my grandmother passed, my connections to my father's side of the family went with her.
The first time I visited Japan was after my grandmother's death. I smiled at each old woman that I saw, wondering if they had formed deep relationships with their grandchildren. They probably had.
These days, I feel both a deep disconnect from and a strange attraction to my Japanese heritage. It's a bit disingenuous for me to say that I miss someone that I barely got to know. Instead, I believe it is more apt to say that I deeply miss the promise of having a relationship with my grandmother.
It is because this story is not unique that I feel compelled to ride in the fight against cancer.
For many, including myself, cancer is a humbling reminder of the indiscriminate nature of mortality and all of the moments that will never come to be.
Cancer pillages the bodies of those we believe to be unbreakable, those we love, and even those we will never have the chance to love. My passion for obstetrics and gynecology comes not only from a desire to repair fistulas and safely assist in complicated births, but also to provide basic gynecological screening for both cervical and ovarian cancer.
It is organizations like Texas 4000 and the constant positivity and support of my community that remind me of the resilience and strength of the human soul. I ride for family and friends, for my team, and to better understand how I can operate as a force of good during my limited time in this world. I look forward to expanding my reasons as I learn more about cancer and those affected by it.