Ana is a senior at the Johns Hopkins University. In the summer of 2012 she is riding with a group of college students on a 70 day, 4000+ mile bike ride from Baltimore to San Francisco.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
The cancer community is the single largest community most of us wish we weren't part of. But most of us are. Some of my loved ones have passed from cancer, and even more of my loved ones' loved ones have. When I was seventeen, our family lost my aunt Sue. My mother tells me (sometimes in frustration, other times with affection) I'm very much like my Aunt Sue—maybe that's why the two of us never got along. Two years later, her daughter, my cousin Trine, showed me a manuscript she'd found while sifting through her mother's papers. It was about a girl in her early adulthood and it stirred me quite a bit. The writing was fantastic. I never knew she liked to write. In my childhood and teenage angst, I never bothered to ask—and it seems she was the only remaining person in my family compelled to make short stories the way I am. Maybe Aunt Sue and I never reached our time—my relationships with many adult figures in my life have improved the older I get. Now what I have left are her manuscript, two amazing cousins, and my memories of her.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I grew up in Colombia, South America, and then I moved to New Jersey when I was eleven. I've never been off the east coast. During high school, meeting people from different states was like meeting someone from a foreign country—exciting, mysterious, and infinitely interesting. At Hopkins, almost everyone I know comes from a different place than me, and exchanging high school stories with my friends here has only increased my sense of wonder. The United States is huge, and though I've lived here for ten years now, I feel ashamed that I haven't experienced the smallest fraction of it. The way I see it, there is no better way—no better time, no better reason—than to travel across it and connect with people on an intimate level, to hear their stories, and to help them, even in the most minute way, to overcome the battle of a lifetime.