- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Spring, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Civil Engineering
- Email: [email protected]
About: My name is Shajee Jamal and I am a senior civil engineering student at UT Austin, originally from Houston, Texas. In my free time, I like to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with friends and family. I enjoy mountain biking, woodworking, camping, basketball, and frisbee. I also like to travel with family and friends and experience new adventures whenever I can.
Why I Ride
Below are some of the people who have fought, are still fighting, or have beat cancer that I’m riding for:
I ride in memory of my father, Nasser Jamal, who lost his battle with cancer on May 9, 2017. He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2013, right before I began high school. The next four years were spent enduring the brutal effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to stop the spread. Unfortunately, after a few months of remission, the cancer returned, worsened to stage IV, and slowly spread to most of his organs. During this exhausting time, I witnessed my father gradually deteriorate from the strong and independent man I knew to someone who struggled even to breathe on his own. Seeing my father fight through this horrifying journey undoubtedly had a lasting impact on my family and I. Despite these testing circumstances, not once did I see my father complain, give up hope, or lose his faith. Throughout the first round of treatment, he refused to miss even one day of work. When the time came for him to be placed in hospice care at home, he was always smiling and joking around with my friends and me. He embodied the true definition of strength and toughness throughout his life and battle with cancer, instilling in me the virtues of persistence and unwavering faith.
I ride in memory of my closest friend Temoore’s father, Fahim Raja, who lost his battle with lung cancer on May 18, 2015. After suffering from a stroke and being diagnosed with stage III lung cancer in 2013, he went through a round of chemotherapy and radiation before going into remission. Unfortunately a year later, similar to my father, the cancer had returned, worsened to stage IV, and spread to his other organs as well, ultimately leading to his passing in 2015. This was especially significant as Temoore and I both struggled together through our fathers’ battles with cancer in the years leading up to our days at UT Austin.
I ride in memory of my late aunt, Imtiaz Salma Ali, who lost her nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed in early 2017, she underwent a Whipple procedure in an attempt to stop the spread of the tumor. However, one year later, the cancer returned and spread to other parts of her body and reached stage IV. On August 26, 2018, she passed away after a very brave battle and with many loved ones by her side. This was a huge loss for my extended family and I as she was the eldest aunt and had played a huge role in all of our lives.
I ride in memory of Ghanem Hajyounes, the father of my dear friend Hamzah. Diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, he was able to have a large portion of the tumor removed. However, a small piece could not be removed safely and despite treatment, this small piece in his brain continued to grow. Due to the location of the tumor, he suffered from frequent seizures which only intensified as time passed. After a year and a half long battle with several types of treatment from chemotherapy to radiation to electric cap to an IV infusion of Avastin, he passed away on December 1, 2019.
I ride for my dear friend Yusuf’s mother, Nadia Shaikh, who is currently battling Leukemia. Diagnosed in June 2017, she had to undergo months of chemotherapy before needing a bone marrow transplant, which she received in December 2017. After facing some immunity concerns, she is now slowly recovering and we pray for a full recovery and remission.
I ride for my friend and fellow UT student, Travis Arnold, who beat a three-year-long battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia during his childhood years. During his battle with AML from 2011 to 2014, he relapsed twice and underwent three bone marrow transplants with his dad being his final (successful) donor. Travis is now six years cancer-free.
Over the past decade of my life, cancer has devastated me and the people close to me. It has robbed us of our loved ones and our time with them and continues to do so. I ride in honor of their strength and struggle in the fight against cancer. I ride to raise funds for research and financial support for those struggling with cancer today. I ride for my family, friends, and everyone else whose lives have changed forever because of this disease. I ride for the mentors and incredible people in my community who have always been there to support my family and I and have made me the man I am today. I ride for the Muslim community and all those from various backgrounds who have been affected by cancer. Lastly, I ride for my mother and younger sister who continue to be the strongest women in my life.
If you’d like me to honor you or someone you know on my ride, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]