My name is Ashley, and I am a local podcast personality, a former activist for trans-equality, and I am riding the Wellesley-to-Wellesley Pan-Mass Challenge this year for the 3rd year in a row.
I believe that I am the only open male-to-female transgender rider in the PMC. I may even be the only open transgender rider, period, as I have not yet in the 3 years that I have been riding ever heard of another transgender person involved in this event.
I ride the Pan-Mass Challenge in honor and remembrance for a couple of people: Caroline Emily Stone and Richard Touchette, both who lost their battles to cancer.
I have personally lost family members to cancer and have some family members who are survivors. But when my girlfriend's father, Richard Touchette, passed away in 2011 (in such a short period of time after being diagnosed), I saw how cancer could devastate the lives of those around him.
But a couple of years later, when one of my best friends, Caroline Emily Stone, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, I witnessed firsthand her losing battle from this disease after over a year of battling it. That is when I realized just how close to home cancer can hit any of us, and that quickly.
This wake-up call has taught me that sitting around and saying "cancer sucks" on social media sites does absolutely nothing. But to take a stand by getting involved and actually going out there and making a difference can (and does) make a difference to bring those affected together to create a positive change and makes a difference that inspires us all!