• Route: Sierra
  • Ride Year: 2019
  • Hometown: Cedar Park

About: Hello, everyone! My name is Serena, and I am a third year nursing student at The University of Texas at Austin. I have always found a passion in helping people, and I cannot wait to be a nurse and have the privilege to be at a patients’ bedside serving, empathizing with, and listening to them. That is part of the reason why I have joined Texas 4000, a 501c3 non-profit organization devoted to serve the cancer community through hope, knowledge, and charity. A dream of mine is to one-day work in an oncology unit, and help those who are suffering from cancer.
In my free time, some of my favorite things to do are having a good laugh, exploring new restaurants, and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. I am inspired by them daily with their enthusiasm to enjoy and count every blessing in life.

Why I Ride

The first time I was exposed to the detrimental effects of cancer was in the summer of 2012. A family friend was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer, which is deadly and very rare. Jesse was a 40-year-old well-educated, hard-working woman, a wife and a mother with three lovely young daughters all aged less than 5 at the time of diagnosis. I witnessed first-hand the pain and suffering Jesse and her family experienced. However, she displayed a strong will to live during her nine-month chemotherapy and radiological treatments, during which we stayed in constant contact and supported her. I still remember the tears streaming down her face when she learned that the average survival period was only one year due to lack of effective treatment for this rare cancer. I saw her beautiful hair gradually disappear and her body shrivel and bend from lack of nutrition and strong side effects she experienced from the chemo treatments. However, she never shed a tear in front of her children and remained strong for them. I would often babysit the girls, and that summer I was determined to teach them how to swim. I will never forget how Jesse’s eyes sparkled with delight when she saw them swim from one side to the other side of the pool on that warm, sunny day. Jesse has now been cancer-free for over three years and has returned to working full-time. It is because of this hope that I am inspired to ride, not just by stories like these, but by all people who have persevered in the face of unbearable hardships.

This past July, a close relative of mine was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In all honesty, it is still difficult for me to comprehend. With the diagnosis came a swirl of emotions: sadness, anger, and uselessness, especially since I felt I couldn’t do anything to help. The healthy, athletic, and fun person I knew seemed to have been stolen away. After the cancer was confirmed, he was always in bed and had little energy to leave the house. However, now he is able to do things he loves, such as running and staying fit. He continues to fight hard, and watching him battle cancer gives me strength. This whole experience has definitely taught me that life is short and should not be taken for granted. In one day, everything may be going well, but in the next, life can turn things on their head. A few months ago he officially completed treatment, and as we wait for the results, I am confident that he will have the strength to beat this illness.

Today, I ride for my dog, Snoopy. Snoopy passed away in March 2018 due to a mast cell tumor. He was definitely my best friend and, since I am an only child, practically my brother. Out of the 21 years of my life, I spent 13 of them playing, sleeping, and doing everything with him. He showered me with joy, kindness, patience, and unconditional love. Every day when I would come home, he would greet me with a wagging tail that never failed to put a smile on my face. When I was sad, frustrated, or having a bad day, I would always go to him first. Even when the end was drawing near, Snoopy remained strong and resilient. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have such a loyal, loving companion, and I know that he will be with me not only when I ride, but for the rest of my life.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there are a lot of things you can’t control in life. Cancer does not discriminate. I firmly believe the three pillars, hope, knowledge, and charity, are stepping stones leading us to a cancer-free world. Right now I am so privileged to have a healthy body to not only ride on the 2019 Texas 4000 team, but to also be a catalyst to get one step closer to finding the cure for cancer. I am riding to not only take advantage of my ability to raise awareness and spread hope for those affected by cancer, but to also inspire others to give strength to those who may be fighting adversities.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my page. If you have anyone in your life that has been affected by cancer, I would love to hear their story and ride for them as well! Lastly, I would like to say that I am eternally grateful for the friends and family that have shaped me into who I am today. I could not have done it without their encouragement and support!