• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Port Arthur, TX

About: Hello! Thank you for visiting my rider profile! I’m Tanisha Jasani, a current senior biochemistry major in the Health Science Scholars Honors Program. I’m also on the pre-med track, hoping to pursue a career in oncology or cardiology.

At UT, other than Texas 4000, I’m part of various organizations. I’m a member of Dell Medical School’s Health Leadership Apprentice Program, Student Health Advisory Committee, and Camp Kesem. I also conduct skin cancer research in the DiGiovanni Lab!

Other than school, I love to spend time with my friends, explore Austin, and crochet. And when I want to procrastinate my work, I make Spotify playlists! (I could also make a personalized one for you!) I also love doing any crossword/word play game I can get my hands on. I especially love the New York Times Mini crossword! (I bet I can beat your best time there). I also love languages!! I can speak, read and write in multiple of them including Hindi, Telugu, Gujarati, English and Spanish (if you count the four years of high school Spanish). Please feel free to reach out, I would love to get to know you and chat! You can text me at 4095945189 :)

Why I Ride

Before I could learn about cancer on a molecular level in my science classes, I learned about it from my mom, who made me understand the cultural, financial and emotional harms it causes. As my grandparents started aging, they started having health issues, which prompted a lot of discussion about diseases and death between me and my mom. She told me about her grandmother’s health problems and her battle with cancer. When my mom was seven years old, my great grandmother was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had surgeries performed. However, the cancer came back and this time they could not afford to get her treatment. The family was already in debt with her previous treatments, and additional costs, including transportation to a city, were not feasible. The treatment available was also not promising, as chemotherapy was not widely available in that region of India. My mom told me stories about how her grandmother would screech in pain, have no access to medication or sanitary products like pads for her bleeding, and there was nothing anyone could do to help. This was my first introduction to cancer, and as I grew up, cancer impacted me and those around me in many ways. I ride for others like my great grandmother who suffered from a horrible disease, had limited access to and resources for treatment and pain management, and could not live the last years of her life in dignity. I ride for a chance to share charity by raising money for cancer research and treatment, to help people better manage and cure the disease, something that my great grandmother was not fortunate enough to do.

I ride for my maternal grandmother, who was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. She went through surgery and subsequent chemotherapy and is now in remission. Growing up, my siblings and I would spend every summer at her house. She is one of the strongest and most resilient people I know who is a wonderful mother to eight children. Even through her treatment process, she continued to take care of her family, including my grandfather who has his own health issues. I'm grateful for the treatment and care she received so I ride for the fact that I'm able to spend more summers with her.

I also ride for my hometown communities that suffer from elevated rates of cancer caused by pollution. When my family moved to America, we settled down in Port Arthur, TX, which is part of a region referred to as the “cancer belt.” The Ozarks route stops in Beaumont, TX, which is also part of this belt and just miles away from where I live. The local economy runs on the large oil refineries in the town and neighboring towns that release carcinogens such as benzene in high concentrations. In 2019, there was an explosion in one of the plants that released toxins in the air and everyone in the surrounding area, including my family had to evacuate. So many people in the local communities, from parents of my friends who work at refineries to uninsured patients at the local clinics I volunteer at, have become victims of cancer at a disproportionate rate compared to the state and national average. I ride for these people and support communities like mine to share knowledge by educating and empowering them to fight cancer and what is causing it locally. I ride to raise awareness about cancer symptoms and environmental causes among those who do not have access to such education.

Finally, I ride for every single one of Camp Kesem’s participants and their families and give them much needed hope. Camp Kesem provides year round support to kids whose parents have been affected with cancer, including a free week-long summer camp. Being part of this organization has been the most meaningful experience of my college career. By interacting with campers and their family members as a camp counselor, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the impacts of cancer on patients as well as their families. I have realized the extent of cancer’s harm beyond its physical impacts. My campers and their families have taught me what true resilience is and I want to ride to show them that they can fight cancer. I ride to show them that they are not alone in this fight, and that I will always be fighting for them and providing them with hope for a world without cancer.

Please reach out if you would like to share your story and someone you would like me to ride for!

To Alaska and back,