- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2020
- Hometown: Houston, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Nursing
- Email: email@example.com
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. Because of this, I have pursued cancer awareness initiatives through various organizations during my time in college, and naturally found interest joining the Texas 4000 leadership development program, one of the biggest commitments to the cancer fight at UT. When I heard about this organization, I was left in awe. A 4000-mile bike ride to Anchorage, Alaska was the perfect conversation starter that had me hooked and wanting to know more about this mission. When I learned more and more about Texas 4000, I became less focused on the actual bike ride.
Rather, I found the true meaning of Texas 4000 perfectly conveyed through its three pillars - knowledge, hope, and charity. First, I learned that by embodying love and optimism, the power cancer has over its victims can be overcome. I know those afflicted by cancer will be touched by our overwhelming positivity and be able to place their hope for a better future in us. Secondly, I learned that this organization will spread valuable information about cancer to the world, further developing me as an advocate for cancer patients. As an aspiring nurse, I want people to be thoroughly educated on the risk factors associated with cancer and understand how they can be regularly screened for them. I want to see the world transition to being more health-conscious and cancer-aware through our educational efforts. Lastly, I learned that to promote a culture of generosity and selflessness, I must jump-start this culture within my community. I hope to do so through fundraising efforts, starting with simple t-shirt sales and organizing community bike rides. These manageable efforts to raise at least $6000 before my ride to Alaska are simple displays of charity that I know will inspire people to imitate or take on an initiative of their own. What starts with us will multiply. These three pillars remind me that I am in the right organization and invigorate me with a continual desire to be part of a mission bigger than myself. And in times of hardship, I know that my team’s mutual passion and commitment to battling cancer can be used to empower one another to stay focused on our mission.
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