Erin is a senior at Villanova 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?
Like all too many others, I have been affected by cancer in more ways than one: my own family, friends' families, adored teachers and mentors, coworkers, close friends. When asked a question such as this, it is our obvious first instinct to think of all of our connections with cancer - to make a mental list of all the loved ones we have watched and are watching take on that battle. To think of the number of people on this list is quite honestly overwhelming, to say the very least. At the time I had to make my final decision about applying to the 4K this past summer, I was feeling particularly connected to (and helpless against) cancer: a beloved grammar school teacher was lost; both my uncle and my childhood best friend were given unexpected diagnoses - all within weeks of each other. While I have felt connected to the cancer community for almost as long as I can remember, at this moment in time the connection I feel is beyond words. Maybe this is because so much is happening at once, or maybe it's because I have come to a new understanding of how these connections affect me and how I should react, no matter how big or small they may be. Regardless, my connection to the cancer community is ever so evident, and it's about time I do something about it.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend 70 days travelling 4,000+ miles cross-country...on a bicycle? If you know me, you probably aren't surprised that I would sign up for something like this without hesitation or even incentive. If you don't know me, well, know these two things about me (for now, at least): I love a challenge, and I love an adventure. When I first heard of the 4K after a fellow AHA grad began her journey last year, I was absolutely intrigued, not only by the idea of contributing to such a worthy cause in such a big way, but also by the idea that I could get to do something so unique (and downright awesome) while doing so. Even at this early stage, it seemed like the perfect endeavor for me. I have always supported the cancer community and have participated in such events as the ACS Relay for Life for many years, but, as in most things I do, I have long desired to do something more - something huge. So, I explored the idea a little and daydreamed of being able to participate, however, I didn't really give it a genuinely serious thought until this past summer. As you read above, I find myself at a time where I feel even more connected to the cancer community than in the past, and well, this just seemed to cement the idea in my head: I was going. To elaborate a little more on my motivation, I came to a very clear-cut realization of what participating in the 4K means to me during one of my daydreams: overcoming cancer is a battle - a literal fight for your life. It is physical. It is emotional. It is, at many times, sheer hell. The 4K will certainly be all of these things as well, at one point or another, yet the amount of determination and strength that it will take me to complete the 4K will never come remotely close to that which a battle with cancer demands. I am riding the 4K because I, unfortunately, cannot fight my best friend or my uncle's battle against cancer for them. But, I CAN stand up and fight side-by-side with them.