I ride for every child fighting cancer. For the past year, I’ve been volunteering at Dell Children’s Medical Center. Through my experience, I’ve been able to witness and interact with patients and their families. It is incredibly heartbreaking to see these children stripped of their chance to just be kids. I ride for the day when every child can be promised a cure.
I ride for my paternal grandfather, or Thathaya as I called him, who passed away from Leukemia 6 years ago. My grandfather lost his mom when he was young and grew up with very little money. As he faced numerous challenges, he never once became bitter or defeated. Instead, he had hope. Hope that his kids, my dad, would have the opportunities he himself did not. He spent years working tirelessly to make that happen. Yet, it only took a few weeks for cancer to swiftly shatter his world. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face, devastation mixed with disbelief, when we were told of the diagnosis: stage IV Leukemia. My grandfather battled the disease for almost a year before passing away in January, 2012. I ride to honor his death, and more importantly, his life. I wouldn't be where I am without him and his lifelong resilience. I ride for my dad who lost his father in such an excruciating way. I ride for everyone who's lost a parent to cancer and felt such an indescribable loss.
I ride for my maternal grandmother, or Ammama as I call her, who is one of the most loving and selfless people I know. She grew up in a rural village in India without access to crucial knowledge about diet and lifestyle habits. Consequently, years of eating an unhealthy diet led to rapid weight gain by her late 20s and the development of multiple chronic diseases. While, thankfully, she never had cancer, her life became increasingly difficult and stressful. Had she and so many others been equipped with the proper knowledge earlier on, years of suffering could’ve possibly been avoided.
I ride to spread hope, potentially life-saving knowledge, and charity in the fight against cancer. I ride for hope through getting to know people touched by cancer, listening to their stories, and letting them know I am riding for them. I ride for knowledge through giving programs about cancer prevention methods and early detection to communities in inaccessible areas. I ride for charity through fundraising and contributing to national cancer research organizations and support services.
I ride for the future. Cancer will be beaten.
A few quotes from one of my favorite books, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi:
“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn't know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn't know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn't really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”
“I got out of bed and took a step forward, repeating the phrase over and over: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on’.”