- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Waco, Texas
- School Year: Junior
- Major: International Relations & Global Studies
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi y’all, my name is Lauren Nix! I was born and raised in Waco, Texas. Growing up, I was lucky enough to be raised by two wonderful parent units alongside countless siblings. My family is nothing less ordinary than a “Brady Bunch”, and I am the youngest. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from taking camping trips and vacations to Colorado and Florida with my family. They are the ones responsible for my spirit for adventure and providing me with constant support.
I am a third-year International Relations and Global Studies major here at the University of Texas- hook ’em! I am minoring in Latin American Studies and will be studying abroad in Costa Rica after the ride. On campus, I am a member of the Sigma Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Delta and serve as a peer mentor for the Foundation Scholars Program.
When I am not studying at coffee shops, I love spending time outdoors, reading books, playing with dogs, cooking, painting, and eating Teo. I'm a big fan of adult coloring books and coffee. Oh, and did I mention coffee? I love both sunshine and rainy-days and am looking forward to experiencing both alongside my teammates all 4,500+ miles to Alaska.
Why I Ride
Everyone has heard of cancer, but not everyone has been unfortunate enough to experience it first-hand. Growing up, I was one of those people. I had heard of cancer and knew it persisted to takes lives everyday, but I did not fully understand what all it entailed. I knew it made my Uncle Scott bald, my grandmother Mun thin, and sucked a little more life out of my Aunt Judy each of the few times I saw her, but I had no idea what all it involved. All of this changed during my sophomore year of high school when my stepdad was diagnosed with stage four terminal prostate cancer and passed away three years later.
I ride for my stepdad. On the Easter Sunday of 2013, my world was shattered. I will never forget my mom sitting down with me at the kitchen table with fear in her voice and eyes full of worry to tell me he had been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. The news left me speechless. He was a parachute rigger in the U.S. army, ran eleven marathons, sea kayaked for sport, climbed the second tallest mountain in the U.S.- I could not accept that my hero, the one who raised me, was dying. From that day on, our household instantly changed. We changed our eating habits, took our dogs on walks every night, and ate at the dinner table again as a family. For the first time, I saw my stepdad struggle. By my senior year of high school, it seemed as if the inevitable procedures, hospital trips, experimental drug treatments, and chemo appointments were endless. But, he never stopped fighting. Growing up, he was always my positive outreach- the one to challenge me to push myself, exceed beyond my full potential, and reach for my goals. I now wanted to serve as his positive influence and return all that he did for me. However, this was the biggest challenge of all. Through a friend, I heard about Texas 4000. It resonated so much with my story that I decided to apply and was accepted in November 2015 in hopes that my stepdad would be waiting for me in Alaska. It was Christmas break of my sophomore year of college when this changed. I was walking home from my last final when my mom called me. She did not want to worry me, but she wanted to forewarn me that my stepdad's health was rapidly declining. His oncologist relayed the death sentence we all foresaw coming. When I arrived home, I discovered he was not able to walk and was having a difficult time simply moving around. After a few collapses on the ground, the stairs in my home became a threat. This led to an ER visit and eventually hospice. Just a couple days after being put on hospice, he passed away on January 11, 2016. It was a few days before my first Texas 4000 team meeting and about a week before I had to return to UT for the start of a new semester.
Cancer may have taken his body right from his very eyes, but it did not take his spirit and the lasting impact he left on others. He touched so many hearts and lives, especially mine. Despite everything that accompanied his three-year battle with prostate cancer, these obstacles did not falter the strength of his own heart and hope he gave others. His ability to find the strength to endure in spite of these overwhelming obstacles made him a hero. Above all, he continued to love and support others until his last breath. Looking back, I can now say I am thankful for all of the lunch breaks I used in high school to eat meals with him; for all of the weekend trips home I made in college to visit him; for all of the chemo treatments I sat with him through; for all of those FaceTime dates and movie trivia shenanigans; for all of the small family gatherings and our last Christmas we spent together just weeks ago; for all of those last laughs and listening to his favorite Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, and Beach Boys records; for being able to comfort him at his bedside as he left the world. These moments gave me minutes, hours, and days with him that I will embrace forever. Cancer stole my hero from me along with all of our future plans. I ride for his courage, love, and legacy. I ride to honor Rick.
I ride for my mom. She embodied such patience and tolerance throughout my stepdad's battle with cancer. She managed to go to nearly every appointment with him while managing their private business. Despite the obstacles undergone these past two months, my mom still proves to exemplify true strength, compassion, and loyalty.
I ride for my wonderful grandmother, Mun, a lung and breast cancer survivor. I ride for my Uncle Scott, a bladder cancer survivor. I ride in memory of my Aunt Judy, who battled lung cancer.
I ride for all of the people that have to live with the unbearable pain of losing their loved one to cancer. I ride for everyone that trembles when they hear the word cancer. I ride for the people that are unfamiliar with cancer to raise awareness, hope, and unity. I ride to promote general education and early detection because knowledge could save another life. I ride for the numerous doctors, researchers, and caregivers that dedicate their lives to end this disease. I ride so I can help people on some of the worst days of their life. Most of all, I ride in search of a cure because cancer sucks.