James is a freshman at American University. In the summer of 2012 he is riding with a group of college students on a 70 day, 4000 mile bike ride from Baltimore to Seattle.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
For as long as I can remember, cancer has been an influence in my life. Both my grandfather and my grandmother battled cancer—my grandfather survived skin cancer and my grandmother survived uterine cancer. Roughly two years ago my father faced colon cancer, bravely handling the diagnosis and ultimately beating the disease. But cancer didn’t only affect my family. It took hold of my friends and their families, drawing us all into the greater cancer community. The cancer community is larger than I had realized, composed not only of cancer patients, but their partners, friends, and families. I am bound to this community by those close to me who have struggled with cancer and its many faces.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
This past April my father’s mother, a survivor of uterine cancer, passed away. While her death was of causes separate from cancer, the sudden impact of her passing hurt no less. She was a survivor. Watching her overcome one disease to later succumb to another was a disheartening reminder that we all are mortal. This summer I am riding for her, for everything that she survived with stride. This summer I am riding for my grandfather who relentlessly battles skin cancer. I am riding for my father, who survived precancerous skin cells and stage two colon cancer. I am riding for all who survive and for those who unfortunately don’t. I am riding for the people like me, the citizens of the cancer community that, though they have not personally suffered from the disease, face it often within their families. I am riding for those, like my grandmother, who didn’t get to ride on their own; who did not have the chance to say “I survived, and I’m going to help ensure that others do too.”