- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2015
- Hometown: San Antonio, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Human Biology/Pre-Optometry
- Email: [email protected]
Hello! My name is Monica Carrizal, and I was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. I was blessed with the most hard working, loving, determined, and self-sacrificing mother, the most genuine older sister, a very driven younger brother, and a beautiful baby niece. These four people are the most important people to me in my life, and I do not know what I would do without them. My mom is definitely the rock of the family; she served in the US Air Force for 14 years and still has that military work ethic. My sister Mercedes is the one who will always support you and have your back no matter what. My brother Matthew tends to be the quiet one but will speak his mind when necessary. Then there is baby Sophia, daughter of my sister and whom we have been blessed with as the newest member of our family; she is the silliest and smartest baby I know, and I cannot wait to see the beautiful lady she will become. Compared to my brother and sister, I happen to be the odd one and have been so from the Day 1 because I tend to gear towards more independent paths from the rest of my family and beat to my own drum. I am the one that will make my family laugh uncontrollably through my reenactments of movie dialogue and random bursts of energetic dancing. I feel no shame around them because they accept me for who I am and all of my silliness. Growing up has always been a financial roller coaster, but that did not stop me and my family from making the most of what we had. Even though financial stability was difficult to keep, I was lucky enough to have a mom who did the best she could to give me and my siblings everything she could. Because of my mom, I was able to find excitement in my life through my hobbies. Throughout my life, I used cheerleading and other sports as an outlet for stress. I love to perform in front of crowds and feel the adrenaline rush that comes with it when perfecting the performance that required an intense amount of hours practicing. The confidence, determination, and optimism I gained from my hobbies would not have been possible without my mom.
I am currently a Senior majoring in Human Biology and hope to become an Optometrist one day. I have always wanted to be a doctor for as long as I could remember, and Optometry definitely stole my heart the day I was finally able to see the leaves on the trees rather than a green blur. There is more to Optometry than just correcting vision. They allow people to read, drive, enjoy the world's beauty, feel beautiful, and give people an entire different view of the world. Optometrists have personally allowed me to enjoy all of the privileges that come with corrected vision, and I would love to do that for other people as well.
"When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe, then you will be successful."
Why I Ride
I ride to bring hope and strength to those struggling with cancer or any illness by sharing my story to let them know it is going to be okay. Most people relate to the medical and emotional toll cancer can generate, but one of the main hardships my family had to endure was the financial burden. I never shared by story with cancer until Texas 4000 and my teammates were brought into my life, and they gave me the strength to open up my heart and soul whole-heartedly. Most of my life, my mom had been the only supporter of me, my brother, and my sister. All of the responsibility of raising and taking care of 3 kids was all on her. My mom had always been a strong woman though and always did whatever she had to do for her kids. When I was 14 years old as a Freshman in high school, everything seemed fine. My family lived in a 5-bedroom house with a pool, and I was in private school. However, none of that mattered when my mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. When you’re hit with that kind of news, you don’t know what to think. My family had no history of breast cancer, so it became to difficult to fathom. I questioned whether my mom was going to die, how long she had to live, what was going to happen to me and my siblings…suddenly the present and future seemed dark with no clear answer because the possibility of losing the only person that has been there for me since day one was out there. But my mom has always been a fighter. She went head on with her chemotherapy and told us that she was going to beat it. To speak to how empowering my mom is, she went to her cancer treatments alone. She did not let any of us go with her because she did not want us to see her at her weakest, so she always made sure to go while we were in school. She even cut her hair like a boy knowing it would fall out. Of course, cancer started to drain the energy from my mom. She became too sick to work, and we ended up losing our home. Within a span of about 2.5 years, my family moved 6 times to different family member’s homes. Each time, the 4 of us shared just one room. With 4 grown people living in one room for almost 3 years, it became exhausting trying to stay positive and hopeful for a bright future. I told my mom to take me out of private school knowing we couldn’t afford it, but she refused because she knew it was where I wanted to be. I was too invested in school and cheerleading that she wanted me to stay there. We ended up doing this program at the school where we could work for my tuition. So instead of hanging out with my friends on the weekends, I was working as well as lying to them about what I was doing. I went to a school with very privileged peers, so I was embarrassed by my family’s financial situation. I would hide the details of where I lived by making an excuse to be picked up or dropped off somewhere other than where I lived. I couldn’t confide in anyone about the hardships my family was facing because no one would understand, so I felt very much alone and stressed from trying to keep up with all of the lies. With my mom being sick, lying, studying, going to practice, and having to go home to a shared room, where I mostly slept on the floor, became all too much that I started to become depressed because I didn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t until the day before prom of Junior year that we finally moved into a home of our own. And it wasn’t because my mom didn’t get a job again, it’s just that my mom was considered a high risk because her credit score had gotten so low from dealing with cancer that no one wanted to rent us a home. Cancer can take so much away from you. Your strength both physically and emotionally, financial credibility, identity, hope. It doesn’t just affect the person with cancer, it affects their loved ones. What I hated most was that the strongest figure in my life was being taken away from me. I walked into the bathroom one time, saw my mom staring at her bald head in the mirror with her hair in her hand, and she said to me, “I look like a monster.” How is a child supposed to respond to that? There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t make the cancer go away. I couldn’t make her hair grow back. I felt helpless. But my mom eventually found her strength back, and she found it in her kids. She kept fighting because she knew she had to knowing my siblings and I were all she had. I am blessed to say that my mom has been cancer-free for 7 years. Now my brother and I go to the college we have always dreamed of, my sister has a beautiful baby girl that I love more that I ever thought possible, and my mom is healthy and stronger than ever. I ride to use my story to give hope of a bright future ahead. For those of you struggling out there with whatever it may be, find your reason to keep fighting, hold on to that strength, and never give up. It may not happen as fast as you would like, my family had to wait almost 3 years before we were back on our feet, but eventually it will be okay.
I also ride for my new baby niece Sophia in the hopes that she will live a happy life and never have to face the horrible effects of cancer.
I ride for extra time with our loved ones.
I ride for those battling cancer and that they find the strength to continue their fight.
I ride for the families of cancer patients to continue their support and never lose hope.
I ride so that every woman and man can feel beautiful inside and out.
I ride for my teammates, who inspire me and push me to be a better person.
I ride for a cancer free future.