Growing up, I have seen the debilitating impact cancer has had on the community around me. I felt so frustratingly helpless watching the indescribable pain and suffering of family and friends and thinking there was nothing I could do about it.
My first experience with cancer occurred in middle school. Up until then, cancer was just a scary name, but in 2011, one of my classmates was rediagnosed with chondrosarcoma of the hip bone. By October, he had passed away, leaving the school in shock. Seeing his empty desk every day was a stark reminder to all of us of the destructive power of cancer. Before my freshman year of college, one of my friends was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He fought hard through grueling treatment regimes to be declared cancer free a few months later. Unfortunately, the rounds of chemotherapy drugs had taken such a toll on his body that his lungs developed pulmonary toxicity and were no longer able to support him. He passed away in September of 2017. Later in my freshman year, one of my mom’s closest friends, JR Miller-Alper was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Upon hearing the news, my mom immediately went to visit her in the hospital where doctors had declared her terminally ill and predicted she would likely pass away in a few months. But just three days later, she had passed away, leaving my mom and all her family and friends stunned. As a teacher, she enriched the lives of thousands of students, and after 45 years of teaching, she met an untimely death due to the unpredictable nature of cancer. Very recently, my mom’s uncle was diagnosed with mouth cancer. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor, and at the advice of doctors in India, left it at that. However, surgery was unsuccessful in removing all the cancerous cells, and as a result, the cancer spread to the body. He passed away in January of 2019.
Although cancer treatment has improved tremendously over the years, there is still so much more to be understood by researchers, physicians, and importantly the general community. Hope, knowledge, and charity can play a large role in this mission. I aim to be a beacon of hope for those suffering and show them that there is an entire community ready to support them. People may lose their hair and suffer the intense pain of radiation and chemotherapy, but hope for the future is what keeps us going. My goal is to make sure that cancer is just a chapter in someone’s life and does not become their the whole story.
I ride because I believe in a cancer free world.