I don't remember when I first learned about cancer. When I was young, all I knew was that when the "C" word came up, voices would go soft and faces grew somber. As I grew older, I realized how common cancer was; everyone seemed to know someone who had it, who was fighting it, or who had passed from it. But cancer did not take a full shape until my Grandma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer my sophomore year of college. I didn't know how to handle the news. I felt a mixture of shock, disbelief, denial, and fear. Just weeks ago, we had all been on a family vacation to Yellowstone; she was right along with us, hiking, rafting, and even horseback riding. It didn't make sense. But it seems as though little in life ever really makes sense. Things can change in a flash and without clear reason.
I saw cancer up close when my Grandma was diagnosed. Cancer was no longer some far-off fear; it was here, inflicting pain and stealing life. But through the hospital visits and treatments, my Grandma stayed strong. My family spent a lot of time together during this time. We all tried to stay in good spirits and keep a positive outlook. Everything else that was going on seemed irrelevant compared to the thought of losing my Grandma. Being with my family during this time really made me see what's important in life, and I began to realize how far the effects of cancer reach. She passed away in December 2015.
My grandma was my number one role model. She had a way of connecting with anyone she talked to, and let me tell you, she talked to everyone and everything. From random strangers at an ice cream shop to other people's dogs on the street, she spread joy throughout all her encounters. She made to most out of life, didn't let anyone tell her she couldn't do something, and found a way to find the humor in almost any situation. She encouraged me to do new things and inspired me to explore. She was a lifelong learner and always had new stories to tell me about something she read or saw on the news. I thought the world of this incredible woman and was beyond blessed to have her in my life.
Cancer takes away so many lives, memories yet to be made, and stories not yet completed. But it had a way of bringing my family closer together and for making me see what is really important in life. I ride in honor of my Grandma. I ride to unite with others in the common fight against cancer. I ride to try my best to help make a difference. I am honored to be a part of the 2019 Texas 4000 Team and very excited to begin my journey.