Experiencing the death of a loved one is extremely heartbreaking, your day to day life becomes filled with helplessness and fear, the world around you appears to fall apart. Losing your best friend is like losing apart of yourself, you lose the person that you could always run to when you were either happy or upset. They would always be willing to be a part of your life even if you were in a rough spot and couldn't do the same for them. For me, my best friend was my grandpa, he was the person I could always count on to put a smile on my face and help me through the tough times. The person who would pick me up from school and wouldn't mind taking me to McDonalds to enjoy a big mac by myside for lunch, the person who was my biggest fan even when I would strike out at home plate. While my grandpa was battling cancer I was only a freshmen in high school, it was my first experience with cancer that I could fully comprehend. I didn't know how to feel, I didn't know what to do and I felt like I couldn't do anything to help. It felt like everything I said and did was wrong. My grandpa however did not let those feeling last. For those who knew my grandpa they know that he was always smiling, sharing laughs, helping others and simply spreading happiness. Before my grandpa passed away he made it clear to me to not let these troubling times stop me from following my dreams, helping those around me and to make sure to continue helping my family with anything we went through.
The passing of my grandpa had a big influence on my career choice, it pushed me to consider medicine and to one day hope to eradicate cancer and many diseases like it, it kept me motivated in high school and has kept me motivated throughout college. However when I first entered college I believed that the only way that I could have an impact in the battle against cancer was by getting good grades and striving to get into med school. However I didn't realize that there were already many ways around campus that allowed for college students like myself to help families that were battling cancer even without a medical degree. I didn't discover these organizations until I was a sophomore sitting in my organic chemistry class where my professor, Dr. Iverson, introduced Camp Kesem to me, a student run, non-profit organization with the mission of being a child's friend through and beyond a parents cancer. At Camp Kesem I served as a counselor for children of ages 6 through 17, however during this week of camp I was chosen to be a part of the Yellow unit so the majority of my time was spent with the boys and girls whose ages' ranged from 9 to 11. Even though all of these children have seen their parents go through something as terrible as cancer it didn't stop them being some of the most empathetic, loving and resilient kids I had ever met. For the single week that I spent with them I was taught so much by children that were half my age. They taught me how to fight with a smile while full of hope, how to be strong and not weak, and how to share love rather than hate. Camp Kesem gives these children the ability to open up and become vulnerable to others who have gone through similar circumstances. For most of these children then finally had a place where they had someone that understood them, someone who they could relate to their stories even though each of their stories were so unique. For some, Camp Kesem allowed them to be happy for the first time since their parent had become diagnosed. Camp Kesem had become a second home, a place where the kids could escape the fear that they face of losing their parents, and a place where they could simply be kids.
So for these reasons I ride for the kids of Camp Kesem and for my grandpa. For they have taught me to live life to fullest and to live with the intentions of giving to those who need it most.
I also ride for those who are currently fighting and for those who have fallen, as well as for their families because no one should have to go through this battle alone.
If you or anyone you know have been impacted by cancer I would love to dedicate one of the 70 days to them and ride for them, please send me a message or email and let me know if so. Thank you so much for all the support!
Armando "Slopes" Arizpe