• Route: Sierra
  • Ride Year: 2019
  • Hometown: Lubbock, Texas

About: Hi! My name is Najlae Chidmi, I joined Texas 4000 as first year undergrad student. I was born in Tangier, Morocco and migrated to the United States when I was around 3 years old. I'm pursuing a BS in Biochemistry at UT and hope to go to grad school and get a MD/PhD degree.

Why I Ride

Mental health is often ignored, especially when terminally ill with a disease like cancer. We forget about our psychological and emotional well-being even though it affects how we think, feel, and act.

I ride for Vid. Sophomore year of high school (April of 2015) my best friend lost her aunt, Marudwaty Agarwal, to a 4 year battle with breast cancer. As we were entering junior year, September of 2015, Marudwaty's husband took his life making their son an orphan. In November of 2016, Marudwaty and her husband's son, a sophomore at Vanderbilt, took his life as well. We often forget that cancer does not just contaminate our lives physically, but it contaminates our spirits. It takes away more than the physical act of living. It takes away our academic opportunities, our childhoods, more "I love you's" with the people we love, it takes away our college graduations, our weddings, the potential to start a family. It takes away the families we already have, it rips us from the love we fought for, it poisons our laughs and makes our thoughts heavy. I ride to not only end the physical deterioration that cancer has but the mental deterioration as well.

I ride for myself and 16 year old girls all over the world. In October of junior year of high school, I found a huge lump, around the size of a golf ball in my right armpit (lymph node). I had just turned 16 years old that past July. Although I was no doctor, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the painful blob in my arm was an abnormal growth of tissue known as tumor. My world came crashing down. I went three days without telling someone before I could not handle it anymore. I'm not gonna lie. It was scary as hell. It was scary to put on a brave face. It was scary to tell my mom. It was scary to wait for the doctor. It was scary to go to bed for a whole week thinking about when the last time I would wake up would be. It was scary to think about whether I was going to graduate. Or make it to college. It's been almost three years now. And I did not have cancer. I was okay. I did not have to withstand years of treatment, expensive doctor visits, and putting my life dreams on hold because my life was on hold. But not everyone is that lucky. Some 16 year old girls come back from their doctors visit and can't say the same. So I ride for them. And their dreams. Their aspirations. Their potential. Their lives.

I ride for my sister. Because she's one year younger than me we fight a lot. Always over stupid stuff like taking each other socks or for making the bathroom we share messy. But she is my sister and I love her. My freshman year of college, (her senior year) she spent around 4 nights in the hospital with complications with her pancreas. Up until then (fortunately) I've never experienced my siblings or parents spending substantial time in the hospital and especially not when I have been 6 hours away. Although my sister does not have cancer, I can understand patients and family members who go through this process. And while my family was fortunate, other families are not. And it is not fair. No one deserves this struggle. No one deserves to ignore their own needs in times like these. No one deserves to fight these battles alone. No one deserves to not have peace of mind at night. No one deserves to be in debt to save their lives.

For the past 18 years of my life, I have been “passively” involved in the fight against cancer. I’ve worn pink at school-sponsored events in October for breast cancer awareness month, my family has donated where we can, and I’ve participated in charity runs here and there. The problem is that cancer is aggressive. It’s not a “passive” disease. It is a disease that knows no race, gender, economic or social status. It doesn’t care whether you are loved. It does not go away because you have hope. And it doesn’t stop with its victims. It destroys the lives of the victim’s families.

We have all first-hand observed the devastating nature that cancer has. Whether we are the siblings, the parents, the children, the friends of victims, or survivors of cancer ourselves it has all touched and impacted our lives in shocking ways. I ride in honor of those we have lost, for hope for those who are fighting, and for the knowledge to prevent cancer for all future generations. Each day I ride I will be honoring someone in the fight, loved ones that have passed, and to those affected by cancer. Please contact me if there is anyone you would like me to ride for. I would be honored to carry their story to Alaska with me.