I used to be incredibly ignorant of how bad cancer was. That too, I thought my family was immune because we had no genetic history, didn't smoke, ate a largely vegetarian diet, and had healthy lifestyles overall. Then my maternal grandmother got stage 4 brain cancer when I was in high school. A month later, my dad was diagnosed with aggressive esophageal cancer. This was the first time I learned cancer truly doesn't discriminate.
I didn't really know how to react to the cancer or what to do. My family moved states to receive better treatment, leaving me to finish school. Instead of trying to provide support or even checkup on how they were doing, I ran away from cancer, and eventually, everything else. Cancer was already devastating in every way, and I contributed to making it worse. It's hard to describe everything here, but life turned into a haze for me for well over a year while it was a living hell for my family.
I returned home after my dad's surgery and treatment. He was "better" now, but now I saw the far-reaching effects of cancers. He could barely work. He could barely walk. He now had to eat tiny meals throughout the day (due to a removed esophagus and thereby stretched, smaller stomach). He lost most semblances of who he was, and when he tried to spread his wings each time, his newfound condition pulled him back down. There was so much unhappiness and frustration during this time, and everyone around him - not just him - felt it. There were countless times when I felt like our family was being physically and emotionally ripped apart in every way possible.
Things are finally starting to stabilize again, but the threat of another diagnosis and the constant uncertainty will always be here. After all, no matter how healthy you try to be, how do you stop something hidden inside your own body?
I joined Texas 4000 because of how distant I was during the actual times of cancer. This is my way of rectifying all the mistakes and petty arguments I got into. I now ride for our pillar of hope. It was the first thing that left our family and the hardest to regain.
Since I've begun training, people have told me deeply intimate stories of how their own loved ones have been affected. One that stuck out to me was a kid who had Ewing's Sarcoma. He made it to the other side thankfully, but how does a child comprehend a disease hidden in his own body? Or comprehend all the intensely painful treatments? Despite being cured, he believes there's something wrong with him to the point that he's somehow cursed to die. Cancer robbed him of his childhood and his hope, and that saddens me to no end.
Cancer robs people of their lives and their dreams, even if they make it to the other side. I'm riding for hope that we can one day end this illness.
My story was relatively brief and perhaps unclear. Please reach out to me if you want to talk more or have someone you want me to ride for.