Suffering has a way of tearing apart things that should never be torn apart. In the past year or so the idea of suffering has come up in multiple settings, and it has taught me that it’s one thing to hear about suffering, but it’s a completely different thing to actually suffer. One of the deepest sufferings I have encountered in my life is through cancer. Although no one in my immediate family has been affected by cancer, still, it has managed to familiarize itself in my life.
The first time I met cancer was in 2008. I was in the sixth grade when my friend’s dad, Mr. Anderson, was diagnosed with germ cell cancer. Mr. Anderson was always happy, full of energy and athletic. His passing in October of that year was startling to me. That was the first time that I watched how cancer can impact a person. From then on, I was motivated to fight back. Mr. Anderson’s family faced adversity with courage and faith. They are heroes in my eyes, and their example is the reason I get on my bike.
Unfortunately, Mr. Anderson was not my only run-in with cancer. Next would come Murphy, who, the summer before our senior year of high school was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Later that year, Maci, another classmate in our graduating class, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Not long after graduating, Mr. Weicker, a pre-calculus teacher at my high school, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Being forced into the unknown is uncomfortable, but I witnessed courage and strength by a community that had no choice but to familiarize themselves with the unknown together.
I have watched and experienced the suffering that cancer brings to affected individuals, to their relationships, and to their families and communities. While I still don’t seem to fully understand why we live in a world with cancer, I have to trust that I don’t have to settle for this reality; that there is more work to be done. In the depths of the unfamiliar nature that cancer can cause, we have no choice but to cling to hope. I ride for that hope that sometimes seems so small yet has the power to move mountains. I ride for those who have come into contact with cancer, whether indirectly or directly, and I ride for their fight. I ride so that they might be given the chance to turn being in the unknown into an immovable hope.