• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2020
  • Hometown: Houston, TX

About: Hi! My name is Alex and I am a senior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Plan II and Neuroscience! I was raised in Houston Texas, about 5 minutes from Johnson Space Center, and grew up around astronauts and engineers, which sparked a love of science and scientific exploration! My love of neuroscience stems both from watching my mom battle brain cancer and a desire to unravel the enigma that is the human brain, one that I have been lucky to be able to pursue in my undergraduate career!

I am very passionate about research and have faith in its ability to change the world for the better! Because of this, I intend to pursue an MD/Ph.D. after graduating with a focus on Cancer Biology in the hopes of contributing to the life-saving research that will bring an end to cancer, a devastating disease that has greatly impacted me and many I love.

Some fun facts about me: I love dogs, backpacking and all things outdoorsy, bouldering (also climbing up random structures!), reading, drawing, painting, am obsessed with infectious disease and Greek myth! I’m a certified pharmacy technician and worked as a professional caricature artist at Kemah Boardwalk for 2 years! (Ask me about Caricatures for Cancer if you would like to buy one to contribute towards the fight against cancer!)

Why I Ride

My life has been marked by cancer in a way that has led me to a life dedicated to easing the suffering of those who have battled cancer. When I was 5 years old, my mom was diagnosed and lost her battle with brain cancer. As a child, I watched my mother endure chemotherapy, becoming bloated and exhausted as targeted poison coursed through her veins desperately trying to slow the aggressively spreading cancer. I remember the feeling of the large prickly scar and shaved hair left behind by the open brain surgery. Most vividly, I remember the day that she died, and the utter confusion and helplessness that I felt. In my early teens, my grandmother -the woman I spent every summer with hunting scuttling crabs and hopping toads, digging up mussels from the mud, and developing a shared love of watercolors and sketching the beautiful Savannah marshes in her backyard- was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. I spent time that summer with her, driving her to chemotherapy and radiation sessions, cleaning the home, cooking, trying desperately to do anything to evade the devastation of watching someone you love wither away in front of you. When she passed, the feeling of helplessness was crushing. Again, at the start of high school, my close family friend and role model, Kathy Hamilton, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Mrs. Kathy helped raise me and my brother in the wake of my mother's death. She picked us up from school, fed us, bathed us, told us bedtime stories, and brought us to church. All the things my mom would’ve done had she been there. She was an incredibly strong, intelligent, nurturing woman. Someone I strive to be like. She suffered for 4 long years but lost her battle. Watching my close friends, my sisters and brother in all but blood, lose their mother was devastating. I wanted to somehow be able to provide solace from my past wounds, to give insight into the healing process. But I was mourning myself, and past scars don’t always help to heal new ones.

My experience with cancer has motivated me to pursue a career in medicine and research, which I will start by pursuing an MD/Ph.D. studying Cancer Biology with the intention of working to find the cures we so desperately need. In order to become the physician and scientist I hope to be, I will ride to remind myself of whom I will fight for in the lab and in the clinic for the rest of my waking days, using my past to help those who are currently suffering, doing what I could not for my friends when I was still a kid.

I ride for my mom, my grandmother, Mrs. Kathy, and the many others close to me who I have lost to cancer. I ride for my dad and the nurses and doctors who supported them through their fight. And I ride for all those who feel helpless because of cancer.

Please help us in our mission to fund cancer research and support services as well as spread hope and awareness by giving whatever you can. The more people that know about Texas 4000, the greater the impact in the fight against cancer, so please also spread the word by sharing my page with your friends and family. I would also love to ride in honor or memory of anyone you know that has battled or supported someone through their fight. Please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] anytime! Thank you in advance for your generosity, it means a lot!