When I was eight years old, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. After a short-lived fight of seven months, doctors informed us that she would not win. I remember the day my parents sat me down at the hospital and broke the heavyhearted news. As an eight year-old, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the concept that the doctors had the ability to forecast such an event, and I asked them if their answer would change; the answer was no. About six weeks later on December 7, 2007 my mother went to be with the Lord after suffering from a disease that not only took life from her, but everyone that fought the fight with and around her: family, friends, and even strangers. While she fought her fight, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer after being a smoker for 50+ years and lost his fight a couple of months before she did. Having lost two family figures almost at the same time was so dispiriting. It took me months to process - something an eight year old child should never have to go through.
When I went home for winter break after my first semester at UT (December 2017), the 10 year anniversary of my mother's homegoing had just passed. I came home to the same house that she died in years before after the stress of finals, only for my father to tell me that his dentist had discovered a small cancer tumor in his tongue at a recent yearly checkup, and that he would undergo surgery two days later to have it removed. All at once, I saw my life flash before my eyes at the thought that my dad, the one who raised me as a single parent for the past 10 years, could have had his life taken from him too from this ugly, horrid disease we call cancer. He quickly explained to me that he had been diagnosed a lot earlier than my mother had been and that he had a 100% of living. He is okay now, but ever since my father's cancer scare, I have taken it upon myself to understand more about cancer, along with the forms is takes on and how to prevent late diagnosis. After hearing about Texas 4000 and its mission to share hope, knowledge, and charity to the cancer community and beyond, I knew in my heart that this was something I had to do not only for my mother, but for the thousands of young boys and girls in the country and world that have lost or might lose a parent to cancer. When I first read that T4K is a 70 day, 4500 mile bike ride, I was definitely scared about the physical and mental challenges I would have to fight…but after hearing about the other aspects of the organization other than the bike ride, I was sold. I figured that I could take 70 days from my life to ride a bike from Austin to Anchorage to fundraise so that someone else could have 70 more days fighting to be cured, and that I could bike for 70 days for the last 11 years my mother had taken away from her.
I also want to ride for myself. Being a part of a family with a history of cancer is personally daunting because of the precautions I have to take more seriously and more often than other people I know. The impact I would like to make through Texas 4000 is to raise awareness for early screenings and towards the children affected by the loss or potential loss of a parent or loved one. My mother would still be here today in complete remission if she had been diagnosed a number of months earlier, and I wouldn’t have had to deal with the psychological impacts of having my mother pass so early on in my childhood. With Texas 4000, I want to reach and positively impact the children of cancer patients and to help make their personal fight one filled with hope, knowledge, and charity.