- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2020
- Hometown: Houston, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Nursing
- Email: [email protected]
My name is Jason Nguyen, a senior nursing student at the University of Texas at Austin. I'm preparing to graduate this upcoming December. But before then, I'm extremely excited to say that I am a part of Texas 4000 for Cancer and will be embarking on an incredible journey across America to Anchorage, Alaska this upcoming summer of 2020 to spread hope, knowledge, and charity to the world. Ever since I was little, my dream has been to make the world around me a better place. With this goal in mind, I committed myself, in my daily life, to being mindful of the struggles others face. Being raised by immigrant parents who started off with little yet continuously invested in their community, I've learned how to be abundant with my resources, even in times when I believe I have little to give. Growing up in the church, that generosity looked like monetary gifts at service or my family sharing dinner with another in need. Upon reflection of my upbringing and my newfound knowledge of the world around me that college has provided, I've realized the need for world change and the immense capacity i have for shaping it through my actions. In this chapter of my life, I choose to give my time and energy in fighting against cancer in hopes to one day see a world without it. Truthfully, it still daunts me today what I've gotten myself into, but compared to the struggles brought by cancer, this is a small sacrifice for a bigger cause. I'm excited to look back at this experience and look for my next Alaska.
To Alaska and Back, and Hook 'em, baby!
Why I Ride
I am no stranger to the feelings of pain and hopelessness that cancer carelessly invites. I am familiar with the ways in which the disease selfishly strips away beauty and vigor from its victims. In my life, I’ve had several family members, teachers and friends who have bravely battled cancer and some of whom have passed. The memories of these loved ones and any mentioning of the disease use to make me feel small and weak. I was usually good at having positive outlooks on the toughest situations, yet cancer had a mind-numbing effect on me. However, one person completely changed my attitude surrounding the topic of cancer and sparked my involvement in the fight against it. Every day, thinking of this person fills my cup of grit – that is, my courage and resolve - up to the brim, making me feel invincible. That person is my stepmom, Loan Nguyen.
“Con thương cô rất nhiều,” I said to my stepmom, which means “I love you so much!” My stepmom gave me a big smile as we broke from our embrace and handed me a plastic bag containing a month’s worth of steamed pork buns and fried rice. I waved goodbye to the rest of my family, got in my car, and sat there with a big grin on my face. I started the engine and began my drive back to Austin to start my sophomore year in college.
At the beginning of that summer, my father told me that the doctors had found a tumor in my stepmom’s right breast and they were certain it was cancerous. Taken by surprise, I didn’t know how to react to the news. I felt this was going to be another painful experience that I wasn't ready to cope with. My stepmom came home that same day from work and I greeted her at the front door with an uneasy smile. She knew what I was thinking about and in return I got a chuckle followed by, “Have you eaten yet, honey? Let me start up the soup and rice!” My face immediately lit up and I proceeded to help her bring in the groceries from her car.
That summer and the numerous times I came home during my sophomore year, I witnessed an incredible, constant display of beauty and vigor – virtues I had once thought faded with this sickness. My stepmom went on to endure six months of a medication that shrunk the tumor in her breast, a surgery to remove that tumor, and three months of weekly chemotherapy sessions. It was apparent that this battle was taking a toll on her physical health, but she never failed to exhibit her radiating positivity despite this. She made it clear to our family that no disease was going to take her away from us and that she would win the fight. And she did just that. On December 15, 2018, my stepmother went into complete remission.
My stepmom’s unwavering resolve in her mission to beat cancer has inspired me – in my privileged position of full health and ability - to take an active role in the fight.
A 4000-mile bike ride to Anchorage, Alaska was the perfect conversation starter that had me instantly hooked and wanting to know more about this organization. Yet, as I dove deeper in researching the mission of Texas 4000 for Cancer, I became less focused on the actual bike ride. Rather, I found the true meaning of this organization conveyed through its three pillars - knowledge, hope, and charity. Through the pillar of hope - which, I find most powerful - I was taught to embody love and optimism always. By doing so, the power cancer has over its victims can be quickly stripped away. Because when those afflicted by cancer can see our unrelenting positivity and grit toward fighting cancer, they can place their trust in us for a brighter future. In the pillar of knowledge, I learned that by my education of cancer research, I can lead my community toward healthier, cancer-aware lifestyles. As an aspiring nurse, I want my community to benefit from all facets of health, which is complex but not impossible to achieve with the right guidance. Which is why I am reminded by this pillar to remain research-based in my education, so that I am a reliable resource to my community. Through the pillar of charity, I learned that to promote a culture of generosity and selflessness, I must exemplify these qualities through my actions. My fundraising accomplishments in this organization demonstrate on a small scale how strong a community can become when rallied by a mutual cause and when resources are shared. Not only monetarily have I learned to be generous, but I have also learned to be charitable with my time - which I can use to engage with my community members and build meaningful relationships. The three pillars of our organization remind me that the Texas 4000 for Cancer mission is greater than just a 4000-mile bike ride to Alaska. It is a life-long commitment of service and leadership for the future and betterment of my community.
For my stepmom and the betterment of the world, I ride my bike.
Loan Nguyen, my mother, breast cancer survivor
Nguyen Thi Mung, the Bui Family, my grandmother, lung cancer
James Le (Julie's Godbrother)
Grandpa Paul and Grandma Janice (Armstrong Family)
Abbegayle's Nana Judith
Katie's Mother Katherine, Grandmother Jane Hoppe, Aunt Liz Phele, and Uncle Glenn Darrel
Tarelle Wright, 2 year battle with lymphoma