- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Killeen, TX
- School Year: Sophomore
- Major: Biology BS
- Email: [email protected]
About: Hello! I am a very active, ambitious person who enjoys playing sports, reading, and spending time with my family. I also have a dog (Shih-tzu) named Whiskey, whom I love to take on walks. I am a Biology major, pre-medicine, hoping to someday become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Apart from my educational life, I am also a member of Kappa Rho, a pre-medical honor society, Christian Students on Campus, and a club softball organization.
Why I Ride
I am one of the fortunate ones. I am one of the few people in this organization that can say, “Cancer has not affected my immediate family.” However, my grandmother, unfortunately, cannot say the same thing. Her father, my great grandfather, died from a very malignant form of cancer almost 3 years ago. While I was not very close with him, I still vividly remember the times when he became very sick, because being that he lived in Florida, it was particularly hard on my grandmother, who could not spend much time with him during this difficult time. About a month before his death, the doctors discharged him to spend the rest of his days in the comfort of his own home, because there was nothing else the doctors could do for him. After hearing that the doctors discharged him, as a naïve child I remember asking my mom if it was because he was getting better. When her eyes began to tear up, my body tensed to prepare for the bad news I was certain would follow. The next few weeks, I felt as though I was walking on egg shells – afraid to say the wrong thing and afraid of the inevitable. The day of his death, I remember picking up my mom’s phone to see that the call was from my great grandmother. Feeling my body turn cold, I hand the phone to my mom and brace for the news – my great grandfather had died. The worst part of the experience was witnessing my mother tell my grandmother the news. I could hear the uncontrollable sobs from my room, because I could not bear to see my grandmother’s face at the time the news was delivered. It felt surreal. Everyone had always talking about cancer being something that must be cured and fought, but I never truly realized how real the disease was until I saw the pain it caused my grandmother.
Cancer is a thief: a thief of security, a thief of experience, and a thief of life. When I think about the event to this day, I still can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a relative to this terrible disease, let alone a parent. Whether I am in my late fifties and my parents are in their seventies, I simply cannot fathom living in a world without my parents. The devastating reality is though, that many people do, including young children, and I just cannot sit idly while cancer continues to take and take from families that don’t have much to give in the first place. Thus, I ride for the children who have been forced to grow up before they should have. I ride for the families that crumble under the immense weight and demand of this disease. I ride for the loved ones of people affected by cancer who are left feeling utterly devastated, hopeless, and alone. Lastly, I ride for those who cannot – the patients who have been unfairly denied the chance of truly living the fullest life possible.
If there is anyone in your life who has been affected by cancer that you would like me to ride for, please do not hesitate to email me ([email protected])! I would love to hear all of your stories, and it would be an honor to wear the names of those I ride for on my legs and on my bike all the way to Anchorage.
I pray that by embarking on this journey, I can spread hope that no one is ever truly alone in this process and that a cancer diagnosis doesn't have to mean the end. I pray that through the work of me, my team, and the teams before me, someday, we will pronounce cancer a curable disease.
To Alaska and back,
Chantelle Alejandra Cancel