Profile

  • Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2022
  • Hometown: Austin, TX

About: Hello! My name is Vinay Shah and I am a junior MIS major here at UT Austin. I am on the pre-med track, hoping to open my own sports medicine clinic when I grow older, following in my uncle's footsteps who currently owns a practice outside of Houston.

On campus, I am also involved in Texas Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health, pre-professional organization. I also love playing intramural sports with my friends, especially basketball, and I am eager for a return to normalcy so we can get back on the court!

Outside of school, I enjoy watching esports, especially Call of Duty. Additionally, I love spending time with my friends, trying new food, reading, watching movies and TV (I love all things Game of Thrones), and watching and playing sports.

Why I Ride

I was only thirteen years old when my paternal grandmother passed away after years of complications with lung cancer. I didn’t get to know her as well as I would have liked to, but her impact on me has still been tremendous. She instilled her core values into my father, which have since been passed down to me. He helps me remember what’s important in life, and to always keep a smile on my face. It’s those words that encourage me to do something with the blessed position that I am in. I can’t singlehandedly do something to prevent cancer, find a cure, or ease the pain millions have to go through each year. I can, however, spread hope, knowledge, and charity in the fight against the terrible disease, helping scientists work towards a cure. The only way this can be done is through research and the hard work of individuals around the globe, and I ride for my grandmother so that one day individuals won’t have to deal with the pain cancer caused her.

She had a history of chronic issues with cough and throat irritation, and this led to a series of exams in the late 2000s. Things were okay until 2010 when she was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in her left lung. She was a non-smoker, making this diagnosis extremely rare, and it goes to show that cancer can affect just about anyone. Her options were limited, and given her previous irritations and weakening body, she was not willing to undergo radiation and only wanted to do oral chemotherapy. Eventually, she decided to undergo a lobe resection to remove the cancer from her lung, as removing the whole lung would have left her extremely weak and in discomfort. The resection proved beneficial until a few years down the road when it was discovered that the cancer had returned. She opted to tolerate any discomfort caused by the recurrence, choosing not to undergo further treatment given her already weakened body. She had to spend the last few months of her life in bed. She wouldn’t eat much and had lost a lot of weight. She passed away in June of 2015.

While I didn’t get to be around her a lot as she lived in New York, I will never forget the influence she has had on my father, and subsequently me. It breaks my heart hearing my dad talk about things his mom would do in certain situations that made him smile, and it isn’t fair that he didn’t get more time with her. I want to live in a world where no one has to deal with the pain caused by cancer. By raising money and awareness through Texas 4000, I hope to get one step closer to this ideal world, and I ride for my grandmother who lost her life to the terrible disease.

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I remember sitting in Mrs. Rachel Eustice’s chemistry classroom in the tenth grade thinking about what I wanted to do with my life at the beginning of the school year. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go into business or science, but I knew I had a knack for problem-solving. That’s when I fell in love with the sciences, thanks to Mrs. Eustice. She was my Pre-AP and AP Chemistry teacher in the tenth and eleventh grades, and her classes were some of my favorites. As I got to know her, she instilled in me a passion for chemistry and it was clear to me that I wanted to do something with science as I grew up. She was always there for me, even when I struggled with the subject. I was in her classroom practically every day after school junior year, and she remained patient with me and helped me learn the material. I even found a fellow Ohio State fan, as she and I both enjoy cheering for Buckeye football (when the Longhorns aren’t playing!).

The first year I met Mrs. Eustice, I remember coming to school during the beginning of October and noticing that her hair was pink. She explained to our class that every October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she dyes her hair pink in support of everyone affected by the terrible disease. I then learned that Mrs. Eustice is a breast cancer survivor, having beaten the disease in 2011 (almost ten years now!).

Many people assume that life after cancer is smooth-sailing, but it leaves a mark on people that they will never forget. Mrs. Eustice described how some years, she feels joy in that she was able to beat breast cancer, but at other times it’s hard to describe in words how she feels. It’s something that will stick with her for the rest of her life, and one thing she described to me sticks out in particular. She says that she will never forget the particular scent of the oncologist’s office that she would go to each week for over a year. It reminds her of all the tough times she had to deal with in the early 2010s, and it devastates me knowing that cancer affects people in this way on top of its physiological course. She describes how after going through chemotherapy and radiation, she didn’t even feel human anymore. The treatment left her feeling terrible for weeks at a time. Throughout this entire process, she still rarely missed teaching her classes during school hours, an inspiring feat, showing just how much of a fighter Mrs. Eustice is.

Even now, almost ten years later, complications from her cancer led to an extended stay in the ICU, causing problems with her liver function. Thankfully, doctors have found the right combination of medications, and Mrs. Eustice describes how she feels the best she has in years. I ride for her, knowing that she is a fighter and will overcome any obstacle that comes her way, and hoping that no one has to endure the pain she had to as a result of cancer.

In summary, I ride to raise awareness for individuals affected by cancer across the globe. I don’t want anyone to lose loved ones, people close to them, or even have them undergo the hardships associated with cancer in the future. Texas 4000 presents me with an opportunity to make a difference in this battle, and I aim to do so over the course of the next 18 months.

I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to join Texas 4000 and spread hope, knowledge, and charity in the fight against cancer. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (512) 529-3991 or vinaynshah@utexas.edu to share stories of how cancer has affected your life or those around you. I would be honored to ride for anyone you may know.

To Alaska and back,

Vinay Shah