Sarah studied at the University of Maryland, College Park. 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?
It is hard to find a person these days who has not been personally affected by cancer in some way and I am no different. For some reason, I always thought of cancer in a very small spectrum when I was younger. I knew there was breast cancer, leukemia and a few other types, but I really had no idea the scope of the disease until my grandmother was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005. It was a very scary experience for me because I learned that my grandmother’s cancer was extremely aggressive and not curable. She had a Glioblastoma Multiforme Stage IV. Rather than physical symptoms, she had drastic personality changes. She became extremely angry, delusional and forgetful and was not the loving wonderful grandmother I knew. When the doctors discovered her tumor, we were told she would not survive the year. After surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, thankfully her ‘old-self’ reappeared and my grandfather took control of most of her care. We had all become so preoccupied supporting my grandmother that it came as a shock to us when my grandfather suddenly became very ill in 2007. He too had cancer (pancreatic) and when he went to the hospital they found it had spread significantly to his liver and stomach. He died within three weeks of his first symptoms. While we were caring for and supporting one cancer patient we lost another. My grandmother lived four years beyond her surgery tumor free….well beyond doctors’ expectations. But her tumor eventually grew back and she passed away in 2010. In addition to my personal family connection with this disease, I have had many secondary experiences too. I remember the day when one of my college friends came to me devastated because he just learned that his younger sister was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I remember when another college friend told me about how he had survived cancer when he was in middle school and the only reason they discovered it was because he had an unusually loud snore. Unfortunately, this awful disease is all around us and it does not care about a person’s age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. For this reason, I am part of the cancer community and I want to help give back.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I want to ride on the 4K because I want to do something that is going to be life changing not only for me, but for an entire community of people as well. I first heard about the 4K when I learned that a girl I used to go to summer camp with had done it. I have always had a passion for the outdoors and I grew up hiking and exploring National Parks with my families. When I found I could combine something I loved with something that supported a good cause, I knew I had to be a part of it. I know that participating in this program will be challenging, but I am motivated to do it because I know those who have fought cancer have had much tougher challenges and will continue to face much tougher challenges. There are so many people who refuse to give up on themselves even when their future may seem grim, and so I want to help give those people who want to fight the means to do so.