Erika Morrissette is a graduate student at SUNY Albany. In the summer of 2013 she is riding with a group of college-aged students on a 70 day, 4000+ mile bike ride from Baltimore to San Diego, CA.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
The cancer community is all around us. Everywhere you look, someone has cancer or knows someone battling the disease. Mothers, fathers, children, friends, the young, the old - cancer does not discriminate. More personally, my younger brother was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the young age of seven, when I was in middle school. It was caught extremely early, when counts were shown off by a finger prick at a routine physical. To say it was unexpected is an understatement; he had no symptoms. I recall being home alone with my mother as she got the phone call from the doctor with the diagnosis. It was a struggle seeing the ones I love in such pain. My brother was quickly admitted to the hospital and underwent surgery where they implanted a port in his chest. He endured three years of chemotherapy, multiple hospitalizations and many missed school days. We were very fortunate in how well he responded to treatment, and today I am happy to report that he is a healthy and happy 19-year-old in his first year of college. In addition to my brother, my grandmother is a colon cancer survivor and my grandfather is a bladder cancer survivor. My other grandfather sadly lost his fight, succumbing to prostate cancer when I was young. All of these connections have inspired me to do all I can to help the cancer community, and to take part in the 4K for Cancer.
Why are you riding with the 4K for Cancer?
There is no arguing that biking over 4,000 miles is a huge undertaking, and there will be challenges. However, I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer. I will be able to stay active and challenge myself all while raising money and awareness for an amazing cause, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The strength of those battling cancer past and present will provide me the motivation to persevere. Cancer is an extremely scary thing. It affects our loved ones, our neighbors, and families throughout the world. Hence, it is vital that we continue heavy research, continue to fight against this disease, and help those throughout the cancer community. I also love adventure and meeting new people. I look forward to forging lifelong bonds with my teammates who share similar passions. I feel so fortunate to be able to be a part of the 4K for Cancer, and I can’t wait to cycle, inspire and unite. If you would like me to dedicate a portion of my ride to someone who has battled or is currently battling cancer, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.