Hi everyone, and thank you for clicking on my page! My name is Michelle, and I'm a small, 5'2 gal with a big heart for the world!
I am a 4th year student at The University of Texas at Austin pursuing a degree in Neuroscience and a certificate in Business Foundations. After graduating, I hope to attend medical school in Houston to one day become a pediatric oncologist. I spend my free time outdoors, playing sports, exploring the city, drinking coffee, reading books, and listening to music (please send me recommendations)!
Currently watching: Parks & Recreation
Currently listening to: Shawn Mendes, The Lumineers, and keshi
Currently reading: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
WHY I RIDE:
There have been a handful of people in my life who have been directly affected by cancer. The first of these was my grandpa. He was the best grandpa - the type that would take you to the park every day or sneak you an extra piece of candy when Mom wasn’t looking. But he was a heavy smoker. When I sat in his computer chair, I could see past the corner of his desk where he threw away his cigarette packs. Each day, more and more of these empty packs would find their way to the trash can, overflowing onto the ground when there was no room left in the bin. He grew up and spent most of his life in rural China, where smoking cigarettes was considered the norm; nobody told him about the risks associated with it until it was too late. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in April of 2010, and the disease ultimately took his life six months later. For my grandpa, I ride for a change in the norm, for increased cancer prevention, and for those who lacked the knowledge they so desperately needed.
The second of these is my grandma, who is one of the resilient women I know. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and she battled it for eight years while enduring numerous rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and the diagnosis and passing of my grandpa. Even while she was sick herself, she continued to put not only my grandpa before herself but everyone else as well, refusing to let cancer define how she lived life. Despite all the things she was forced to experience during those long years, she remained resilient, optimistic, and hopeful. Today, she is a survivor. For my grandma, I ride for those who are selfless, for those with second chances, and for those who are able to stand victoriously in the face of cancer.
The third of these was my aunt. She was someone who exuded compassion, wisdom, patience, and kindness, someone who eagerly loved those around her. In 2010, she was pregnant with her first child, my cousin; however, many complications arose during her pregnancy - extreme fatigue, nausea, and abnormal bleeding. Upon a regular hospital visitation, doctors discovered that a severe form of Hodgkin lymphoma had nested itself in her body, specifically in the ovaries and the uterus. The aggressive nature of her cancer ultimately took the life of her child, and it also forced her to undergo a hysterectomy, guaranteeing that she would never be able to have a child again. While the procedure bought my aunt some extra time in this world, she left us eleven months later at the age of 35. For my aunt, I ride for those that endured, for those that gave it their all, and for those that can no longer ride for themselves.
The fourth of these was Joshua Ma. He was a graduate of UT’s School of Architecture but felt God calling him in a completely different direction: Guatemala. Being the faithful and servant-hearted man he was, Josh left behind the luxurious life he would have had and instead became a missionary with the Guatemalan branch of Kids Alive International, a non-profit organization that aims to rescue orphans and at-risk children. While my Guatemala mission team planned for our upcoming trip early last year, we learned that Josh was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer, which had already spread to his liver and lungs. After much consideration, he decided to spend his remaining time in Guatemala with his pregnant wife Susan, his 3-year-old daughter, and the children sheltered by Kids Alive. Josh, even while knowing the end was drawing near, serviced those in Guatemala fiercer than ever before and continued to love relentlessly. On the fourth day of our mission trip, March 16th, 2017, Josh passed away at the age of 38. As I stood shoulder to shoulder amongst those at his funeral service two days after his passing, a wave of harsh realization crashed onto me: cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. It doesn’t matter that you gave up your life to serve at-risk children in Guatemala. It doesn’t matter if you have a child and another on the way. For Joshua, I ride for those who gave up their lives for the sake of others, for Susan and the families that are burdened with the effects of cancer, and for those with the most beautiful hearts.
Texas 4000 reminds me of the lives of my grandpa, grandma, aunt, and Josh, along with the boundless love that each of them had for not only every single person in their lives but for life itself as well. I ride in hopes of replicating and sharing that same type of love with each person I meet through this journey so that they, too, will be equipped to go out into the world, to share hope, knowledge, and charity in the fight against cancer.
If there is anyone in your life who has been affected by cancer that you’d like me to ride for, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
I ride for...
Ava Bright Lee & Team Brighter Days
Kelly and Steve
Jill Stein, Emil's mother
Tiffany Leung, Christy's sister
Azariah's, Hannah's, and Daniel's grandpa
Vinayak Pandit, Tanaya's grandfather
Jennifer's aunt and friend
Nima's friend's brother
Jennie Joe, Chris' mother
Jenny, Rachel's Quebec host mother
Rob, a stranger with stage 4 cancer
To Alaska and back,
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8