Doug is a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 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?
My family has been touched by cancer on multiple occasions. As a young child, I watched as two of my immediate family members were diagnosed with cancer. Their struggles with this disease affected all of us: As a family, we did all we could to provide as much support as possible as they fought for their lives. At first I had little notion of the potentially dire consequences of cancer, or even what it was. However, I was soon confronted with how it could tear previously stable lives apart, as well as the fear it could strike into us. After a taxing surgery, my dad was able to emerge cancer-free, but my grandmother was not able to fight it off. Her death from brain cancer only reinforced the all-too-tragic reality of this illness. We all felt the human toll it could take on entire families. Her death meant the loss not only of a grandmother but also a mother, a sister, a friend, a confidant. The hole she left in our lives was irreplaceable. Even as a child, I sensed the finality of it all, and I knew in an instant the cruel power that cancer could wield over hapless victims. These direct, unnervingly personal experiences with cancer have driven me to continue to fight for a cure and for compassion for people struggling with the disease.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I want to use the 4K as a platform from which to raise much-needed funds for cancer research and support for patients and families. I know from experience that people affected with cancer across the country have unmet needs in terms of physical, emotional, and communal wellbeing. 4Kers offer an unprecedented opportunity for support—both in donations and volunteering—and I want to contribute to this process. I hope that doing something so drastic as cycling across the United States gets people to take notice of our efforts. My expectation is that people attracted to the allure of the 4K ride will at the same time become aware of the needs of the cancer community and learn what they can do to take action that will have immediate influence. Also, I want to get to know more people who are part of the cancer community. I am eager to listen to the unique stories they have to share and to make the statement “we are here to support you.”