Rose is a senior at Yale 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 Seattle.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer almost two years ago. I am grateful to say that today she is recovered, and stronger every day. But the disease changed her life, and affected everyone around her. To watch her fight, to see her exhaustion and fear, to simply try to be with her—these experiences change the way we view the world, and our relations with the ones we love. Cancer shifts everything into sharper focus; it forces a reevaluation of identity in the face of mortality. Before she got sick, my mother’s identity was rooted in strength, fitness, and health—commuting to work on a bike, and triathlons in her free time. But cancer doesn’t discriminate; it is blind to our self-conceptions. Seeing her rebuild and redefine herself, I’ve become more aware of the importance of living in each moment—the importance of choosing, actively and with concrete intent, to live in the present. And so I choose, now with my fundraising efforts and this summer with every mile I ride and every individual I support, to join this fight against cancer.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I’ve always been a cyclist, but in the past few years that act of riding a bike has taken on a new life-affirming quality for me. My mother is an avid cyclist, and always encouraged it in me: I was allowed to ride to school long before I could take the bus or train. Since then, cycling has followed me wherever I go. Whether working in DC or doing research in France, I always bring my bike. Riding seems like a kind of empowerment, allowing us to take on the world (okay, the continent) propelled only by our own will, determination, and calf muscles. On the 4K ride, we will draw that strength and endurance from the people we love, and the people we meet. Every day we will dedicate our ride by writing those names on our legs, endowing every pedal-push with greater purpose. I ride for my mother—for her, riding a bike is a symbol of grabbing hold of life’s opportunities, making the most of every single day, every moment. Her illness taught me the importance of actively living, with intensity and purpose, and she taught me that living actively is the best way to achieve it. But I also ride for everyone I will meet along the way; people thrust unexpectedly into this cancer world, confused at how to navigate this scary sick space. Creating communities is probably our most powerful tool to find our way through, and fight better together. Cycle, Inspire, Unite!