- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Katy, Texas
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Biology and Management Information Systems
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why I Ride
I initially heard of Texas 4000 when I was in high school, through a Facebook post of my classmate’s mother. Her eldest son had been a part of the organization while he was a student at UT, but was diagnosed with cancer and passed away before the physical journey began. Her raw words touched and inspired me, and although I was embarrassed about it then, it brought me to tears. Wanting to join Texas 4000 at that time was a no brainer- cancer is always a good cause to fight for, and the bike ride to Alaska would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity. While the reasons I initially wanted to join are not untrue today, my relationship with the cause has evolved and grown to be so much more personal since.
Within that same year, my dad became sick. I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of it; it was a combination of my parents trying to protect me, but also my selfishness and preoccupation with my own life. They were secretive about what was going on, but I didn’t probe; I assumed he would get better and life would go on, just as normal. Although he did, in a way, get better, life did not return to normalcy. It was my brother that finally told me what was going on; the doctor had found tumors in my dad’s liver, they were tested, and the results came back as non-cancerous.
Every emotion filled me. Initially, I was shocked; shocked that it was something this serious. I became sad knowing how poor my dad’s health was, and then relieved because everything was okay. I expected my thoughts to stop there, with relief that my dad did not have cancer, but it didn’t. Relief was taken over by uncertainty, an odd and unique emotion. Most emotions- happiness, sadness, and anger- tend to fade away. You experience a burst of strong feelings, then they slowly trickle away as the daily activities of life bring you back to reality and emotional equilibrium. Uncertainty is odd in that, at its core, it depends on other emotions. Uncertainty is always at the back of your mind, weighing down on you until it’s interrupted, maybe with good news, but possibly with bad. Uncertainty is feeling helpless, like absolutely nothing is in your control. It’s realizing that your life and your family are at the whim of a test result. When you are no longer bound by that uncertainty, you may hurt, but you learn to accept it, decide to not let this walk all over you, and fight. When everything is up in the air, it feels like you’re walking on eggshells, hoping that the next step, the next day, won’t leave you on the ground, broken. It seems inevitable that one day, the uncertainty will be interrupted.
A couple months ago, while my brother and I were talking about our dad, he said the phrase ‘he’s working hard so we’ll be okay, the three of us.’ The three of us: our mom, my brother, and I. It was the first time that I ever heard those words in the context of my dad being permanently gone. It will be a day and a conversation that I will never forget, when I realized that the number of years I have with my father could be limited. It’s changed my life in ways that I cannot even fully comprehend. It hurts that even with everything going on his life, he still puts our family before himself. That at a time when he should be focusing on himself, he has the time and energy to drive up to Austin to bring me soup when I have a fever, or call me late at night to make sure that I’m eating and getting enough sleep. His complete and whole hearted selflessness is unimaginable and inspirational. He’s shown me time and time again what it means to love with your whole heart and to give yourself completely.
I fight for the day when cancer is no longer in our lives. When people are no longer uncertain and scared for their loved ones. When cancer no longer looms over us, taking control and making us feel helpless. I’ve committed myself wholly to fighting cancer, not just for the short time I have left in college as a part of Texas 4000, but for the long run with my career, for my family.