This is a big question that I have many answers for. Yes, I ride for one of my best friend’s grandmothers, Grandma Sandy, who had breast cancer and was the first person I knew to pass away from cancer. Yes, I ride for the girls I mentor through Mount Nebo to show them that anything is possible. And yes, I ride for every life touched by cancer. Perhaps my biggest yes is that I ride for my dad.
In May 2017, during my freshman year of college, my own family was hit with a stunning cancer diagnosis. My dad had stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer. The fact that his cancer was inoperable was a huge blow. The fact that pancreatic cancer has a 7% survival rate was painful. The fact that his prognosis was 1 year to live was heartbreaking.
It was a classic case of “I never thought this would happen to my family”. Before I knew it, that initial prognosis dwindled down from 1 year to 6 months to just weeks. I’ve described it before as a tornado. Our lives before the diagnosis was like a house, with some creaky doors and loose hinges, but I loved it anyways because it was ours. Post cancer tornado, you see the remnants of the house. A chair over there and a doorframe over here. You have to rebuild and fit it back together the best way you can, knowing it will never be the same again.
My dad died July 21, 2017. I ride for him, for my mom and sisters, and for me too. After the tornado came the rescue teams. My family was blessed with amazing community around us. Family and friends came from all over to help us take care of things and to celebrate my dad’s life. He is absolutely worth celebrating. There were so many people surrounding us with love and prayer.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” – Romans 5:3-5. Yes it was and still is hard, and of course I am stronger from it all. I learned how to love harder and find hope in the lowest of places. And now I have the determination to bike over 4,500 miles from Austin to Alaska in the fight against cancer, spreading knowledge, charity, and lots of hope.
If I can be riding for you or anyone you know, please let me know!