Sam is a senior at St. Mary's College of Maryland. 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?
Cancer has had quite a presence in my family. It really left a mark on my family recently through my father, a cancer survivor. Diagnosed with colon cancer in March of 2010, he became very ill during the treatment process due to surgery complications. The experience has made my entire family much more aware of our health. We pay much more attention to what and how we eat, and my father has made significant dietary changes. Realizing how lucky my dad is to be alive and really understanding the importance of a healthy body, my parents have started running; one year after his diagnosis my father raced in his first half-marathon. My maternal grandfather also had colon cancer, so my risk of colon cancer is very high. I am constantly aware of my high risk, and will be completing my first colonoscopy of many at the age of 25, instead of waiting until the normal recommended age. My father has become a proponent of actively fighting cancer, and has talked most of his neighbors, friends, and coworkers into getting colonoscopies; one of them actually discovered cancerous polyps because of the colonoscopy he got as a result of my father’s encouragement, and was able to treat them before they became serious. We constantly remind ourselves that although my father’s ordeal was excruciating, our family is lucky; many people are not able to say that their father, mother, child, or sibling survived cancer. Because of this, we find it even more important to continue to actively fight against cancer, so that we may save other families the heartache of losing a loved one to cancer.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I want to ride on the 4K because I want to find a concrete and tangible way to support my father and his activism against cancer. I can continue to tell people about my dad and encourage to them take certain preventative steps, and I can donate to various cancer organizations, but these actions seem trivial to me. Spending seventy days biking four thousand miles, reaching out to people the entire way, after raising $4500, will have a much more significant impact in the fight against the disease that almost took my father’s life. Dedicating day after day, mile after mile, pedal after pedal, on the open road to my dad’s honor will bring me much more satisfaction than just telling his story. I expect the ride to be grueling, and putting myself through a small percentage of the physical pain that my father suffered will not only bring me closer to him, but also leave a lasting impression on me, helping me to remember how lucky I am to be healthy and to remember how important it is that we must never give up fighting cancer. Financially, I am able to donate a few dollars here and there to various organizations raising money for cancer research. However, through this program, I will have the ability to raise thousands of dollars. Although most of the money will not come directly from me, I will be given the opportunity to bring the community together to make a significant financial contribution to the ongoing fight against cancer. I can also reach more people through this ride. It will provide me with opportunities to talk to people all across the country to seek their support against cancer, and it will give me the opportunity to hear their stories about how cancer has affected their lives. I will be able to talk survivors, patients, and family and friends of cancer victims, and I feel these stories will be life-changing.