Like far too many people, Alan Ma has seen what cancer can do. He’s had friends and family members take on the disease, with a few passing away. But it got very personal for Ma when his older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 32 years old. The news of a closer family member being diagnosed with cancer is life-changing regardless, but it was especially difficult for Ma, as he was attending graduate school at Duke University while the rest of his family was across the country on the west coast.
“I tried to fly back as many times as I could,” said Ma. “But my primary role was to provide mental support. Watching my older sister, who I’ve always looked up to, fight through chemotherapy was both painful and inspiring.”
Ma had ridden in charity events before, but this year he knew he wanted to support his big sister. A late appeal for more donations pushed his fundraising into the Victory Ride’s upper tier, but with those donations came a promise: Anyone who gave would be able to dedicate the ride to someone they knew who had been affected by cancer. Ma would ride a longer distance in the ride and wear a flag on his back bearing all those names.
“It was great that it gave me the opportunity to catch up with some long-lost friends who were able to update me on life events and lost family members,” said Ma.
The downside? The longer distance was, as Ma readily admits, not something he had trained for sufficiently. Unfortunately, on ride day, he suffered a cramp at mile 18. He didn’t stop fighting for his sister and all the names on his back.
“I cried for hours thinking about my sister and did what I could to try to make it to the finish line. Luckily, there was an army of volunteers there to support me through the process, and it really made me appreciate that it takes an army to beat cancer,” said Ma. “Yes, I should have prepared better for the event, but I also felt like it was fitting, since no cancer patient can truly prepare for all they have to go through.”
So, as you begin to prepare for the 2022 Victory Ride (you can register here!), be sure to learn from both the positives and negatives of Alan Ma’s experience.
- Ask your friends and family for donations and make it personal for them
- Don’t be afraid to follow up so you can hit your fundraising goal
- Be sure you train for the distance you’re planning to ride
And, most importantly, know that for every dollar you raise and every pedal stroke you take on ride day, you are moving us closer to better treatments, earlier detection and more lives saved from cancer.