My first memory was when I was four years old, sitting around the dinner table, and my parents announcing that my dad had cancer. My siblings – six and eight at the time – and I clearly couldn’t fathom what this meant. We were told that dad was going to be sick, but that didn’t seem so out of the ordinary to us. We had all been sick before. After that discussion, my brother asked what we were going to have for dessert.
I would like to go back to a time when cancer could not trouble me because I didn’t understand what it was. Since that has changed, I have decided to be a part of the movement towards eliminating cancer. Texas 4000 symbolizes the cancer-free world we all hope to live in, and being a part of this team, being given an opportunity to ride for my loved ones and yours, is an honor.
I am riding for my dad, my dad’s best friend, and my best friend’s dad. My dad had cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma. This is a form of skin cancer usually caused by overexposure to ultraviolet rays. My father has always been active, a lover of rowing and white-water kayaking. Unfortunately, his love for the outdoors is what led to his adverse circumstances. Living in Florida, the “Sunshine State,” I’ve seen the effects of skin cancer first hand in several cases aside from my father’s. As I bike to Alaska, I hope to spread knowledge about skin cancer and its easy prevention. I am happy to say that my dad has been cancer free for years. He is one of the most encouraging, supportive, and hard-working people that I know, and I hope to make him proud biking to Alaska.
I also ride for one of my father’s close friends, Andy Fox. Andy was diagnosed with stage IV oral cancer around the same time as my dad. He was given a 10% of living six months. Despite these odds, Andy was able to beat his cancer. After his fight, he began a nonprofit called “Outfox Cancer,” which raised money to provide free cancer screenings for the under- and uninsured. He held fundraisers and charity golf tournaments to raise money, and at all of those golf tournaments he wore the most ridiculous golf pants you could imagine. Checkered, paisley, you name it, and always in the brightest colors.
Andy was diagnosed with cancer a second time, another rare form of oral cancer, this time on the back of his tongue. He put Outfox Cancer on the backburner as he visited doctors across the US in search of treatment. After surgery and treatment in New York, Andy was able to say for a second time that he is cancer free. Despite the circumstances life has thrown at him, Andy remains positive. He told me that having cancer gives you an appreciation for the moment, and that the most important things are “the five F’s”: family, friends, faith, fun, and looking forward. I ride to outfox cancer.
I also ride for my best friend’s dad. Jeff and Victoria Wicks have been a light in my life since I’ve been at UT. They have raised a kind and strong daughter, Sofia, someone I am lucky to call my friend. Not only have they provided me with such friendship, but they also treat me like family every time they come to visit. I’m invited out to dinner, I’m in the obligatory selfies, I’m a part of it all. Mr. Wicks battled glioblastoma, a form a brain cancer. I am happy to say that Mr. Wicks also beat his cancer. The picture Sofia has painted for me of her dad’s strength is inspirational. Sofia and her family are also in this picture, and are equally as strong. I am incredibly grateful for her friendship, and the love her family has given me.
I ride for my dad, my dad’s best friend, and my best friend’s dad. I also ride for my mom, who has been my rock my entire life; my brother and sister, whom I love dearly; and my extremely supportive friends, whom I am ever-inspired by. I ride for all of those who have been affected by cancer – directly or indirectly – and those who will be affected until we find a cure.
I ride so that with each mile we are closer to a cancer-free future.