Michelle is a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 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 Portland.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
Growing up, I saw my Mother, and my two Grandmothers battling cancer one after the other. First, my Grandmother on my Mom's side was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when I was very young and, in which, I saw much of her recovery process. At that time, I did not have a full understanding of how deadly cancer was until I grew up. I remember when my Grandmother saw my aunts fighting with one another, and she calmly sat next to my cousins and I who were crying on the stairs and offered a comforting hug. She made us feel so at home with her homemade cooking and her unconditional love towards all her grandchildren. As time moved on, my Mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when I was about 10 years old. She successfully recovered, but she had to consistently get check-ups and multiple surgeries even after the doctors said she was okay. My parents divorced when I was 3, so I would continuously switch houses every week with my Mom and Dad every Friday so I would have a chance to see both of them. I remember receiving a phone call when I was at my Dad's house one day hearing my Mom was rushed to the hospital because she became sick. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. My Mom was my best friend. Because I was her only child and only daughter, she would do anything to make me happy and she would go out of her way for anybody. I could say there is nobody in the world like her. Her surgeries and other complications contributed to her passing away on February 10th, 2007 when I was 16 years old and I still love her the same to this very day. Since both my Grandmother and Mom had Breast Cancer, It makes me very nervous the likeliness of developing Breast Cancer myself when I become older. I want to do my best to prevent it. Lastly, my Grandmother on my Dad's side was diagnosed with Colan Cancer when I was 12-13 years old. She was a very strong woman always active at her Church and with her family, always offering a helping hand. Do not take it lightly when I say these women were extraordinary. I model my life after these women and I do not regret any second of it.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I'm riding for the 4k because of everyone around me. This includes people who suffered from cancer, those battling cancer, those who will suffer from cancer, and also for my friends, family, coworkers and my sorority sisters. No one should be given the chance to be put into a deadly situation. My main motivation is the reward of seeing others smile knowing people care about them. Giving back to the community gives me the most rewarding satisfaction and it is the most selfless act you can give. I hope riding and finishing the 4k for cancer will inspire and encourage my sorority sisters, friends and family to get involved in helping their communities, cancer related or not, including other people around them as well. Giving to charities and doing community service is one of my lifelong aspirations that I hope to continue to do as long as I'm alive. My ride is dedicated to my Mom, my Grandmothers, and those who are currently battling cancer as I'm laying here in my bed writing this exclamation. Change doesn't happen on it's own, so it's time to do something about it.