Cancer has never affected my life. I have never had to sit by the deathbed of a loved one, saying goodbye through a maze of hospital tubes. I have never had to experience life without a mother or a father, a sister, a brother, or a grandparent. I have never had to cherish a simple goodbye with a close friend, not knowing whether or not it would be our last. I am one of the lucky ones – but I want to ride for the millions who can’t say they are as fortunate.
As a kid, I had an unbridled faith in the medical system. In my eyes, physicians were angels sent down from heaven to cure the plight of the sick, and hospitals were places where miracles happened – where no form of evil triumphed over the innocent. But as I grew older, my optimism faded, and reality hit hard. Here in the United States, we have come a long way in the fight against cancer. Our treatment methods today are leaps and bounds ahead of those from only a few years ago, and this level of discovery continues to increase at an exponential rate. Still, we are nowhere near a position in which we can truly be content with our progress. Countless Americans lose their battle with cancer each year – and what’s worse, thousands are victims of a shoddy health care infrastructure, chock full of inequities, in which they can’t even afford the resources they need to have a fighting chance. This insufficiency in medical advancement paired with glaring disparities in health care highlights the precedence for increased awareness and funding in the fight against cancer.
I dream of a world that is as optimistic as the one my younger self thought to be a reality – a world in which a brain tumor does not force parents to bury their child; a world in which medical bills alone don’t make treating neuroblastoma a lost cause for a family; a world in which eradicating cancer is as easy as curing a common cold. Texas 4000 is perhaps the most effective means by which I can towards making this dream materialize – not only by providing me with the resources necessary to raise the funds to fight cancer, but also by surrounding me with a group of like minded individuals who share a similar, vested interest in what I want to achieve. I want to prove to myself and to the millions of families affected by cancer that I am devoted to them and their cause – there is no better way to prove my commitment than to triumph the grueling 4000-mile journey from Austin to Anchorage. I figure, if I can do all of this while exploring the beautiful sceneries that the American southwest has to offer, then Texas 4000 is a win-win!
I realize that I won’t be able to fund this dream in two years’ time, and my contributions as a Texas 4000 rider alone may not make a significant dent in the bigger picture – but I will make an impact. I don’t feel it appropriate to measure this impact solely based on the amount of money I fundraise. Perhaps what I want from my time as a rider is too abstract to measure – a smile from a son whose father lost his battle with leukemia, a hug from a mother whose daughter is tackling her life’s toughest ordeal on a hospital bed, a “thank you” from a survivor of breast cancer – these expressions of gratitude are why I ride.