Zhengran "Z" Jiang
Zhengran "Z" is a senior at the University of Maryand, Baltimore County. 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 Portland.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
Even though my life has not been personally scarred by cancer, I still, in a sense, grew up with disorder. My dad has devoted the last twenty-one years of his life to cancer research, in particular, hematological and lung malignancy. Growing up, my younger brother and I would joke about his work being like our third brother due to his continuous focus and dedication on his work. For as long as I can remember, I have been curious of the strange charts and data my dad would bring home and tirelessly analyze. In fact, it was this growing curiosity and my dad’s unyielding work ethic that spurred me to delve into the scientific research field. In past years of my college career, I have had many opportunities to learn and do research on cancer at a molecular level. In these particular labs, I was able to learn necessary lab techniques I would need in the future. But most importantly, I was able to meet and interact with many of the oncologists and scientists also devoting their lives to cancer research. The hard work of these teachers and mentors are one of the sole reasons why cancer fatalities are decreasing as we speak. It is because of their determination and challenge seeking attitudes that we are nearing our grand goal of understanding and curing cancer. No, my connection to cancer is not the same as an emotional one of patients or their family member, but one to doctors and researchers; I still believe it is a unique connection worth sharing.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
Humbly speaking, I would say I am well educated for my age in the biological and research aspects of cancer. I am able to analyze data and charts, grow the next generation of malignant cells in dishes, and give presentations on cellular pathways and signals with ease. However, in the aspect where emotions and interpersonal relationships come in to play, I will admit I am clueless. While reading other riders’ profiles, I almost felt unworthy because I could not empathize with their pain and suffering. The personal side where, witnessing someone’s determination and positive attitudes beat the prognosis, experiencing the pain of losing a loved one, rejoicing over victories of survival, are all things I have been blessed not to experience. Thus this cross country trip for me will be dedicated to learning. I want to meet patients, survivors and family members to learn about the huge ordeals they have had to brave through. I hope that my interaction with the people on this trip will teach me that cancer is so much more than studying cells inside a laboratory. That way, when my father, mentors, teachers, and hopefully, one day myself, become one step closer to understanding and unraveling the disease, I can really understand how these discoveries will improve the lives of cancer patients and their families. Life is all about reciprocal learning, and not only will this trip be a huge learning experience for me, but also a chance for me to give back by sharing my knowledge about the researchers who tirelessly work behind the scene. With this wisdom learned on this trip, I, as a future doctor, will be able to pass on this message of hope.