Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer: I’m Riding for Grandma Merle

From the day I was born to the day she passed away, my grandmother had an everlasting impact on my life.  Grandma Merle lived right across the street and she was always there when I needed her. She and my grandfather would often come over for dinner, but our special tradition was watching “I Love Lucy” together at her house almost every night. She always put our family first, taking care of us and making memories that she knew would last a lifetime.

In 1999, my family lost our matriarch when Grandma Merle passed away from cancer. When she first got sick, I would go visit her at the hospital, and I remember watching the nurses come in to help her. Then she went home, and I wanted to be the one to help her, but I couldn’t because I was so young at the time.

Fast forward a few years, I decided to become a nurse. This decision was without question inspired by my grandmother. While I couldn’t help while she was sick, I knew that I could help others now, and that was something she would be really proud of.

Nurses often say that the job is rewarding. For me, it brought out so many conflicting emotions. Sometimes I felt helpless and would leave work thinking I wish I could’ve done more. Other days, I knew I had literally saved a life. It’s a big pendulum to swing. It really makes you think about life and puts everything into perspective. One girl who I watched undergo treatment stands out in my memory. As a nurse, I knew how badly she probably felt. Yet, there she was – laughing, smiling and playing. She was inspiring.

As my career has evolved and I’m now with Bristol-Myers Squibb, I’m proud I rode alongside 108 of my colleagues for the 2019 Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride to raise funds in support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research. For Grandma Merle, for all the patients I had the honor to help and for patients everywhere, I rode 225 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Long Branch, New Jersey.

Cancer can take a lot of things from a lot of people. It took my grandmother from me. But I believe that one day, we will put a stop to it. That hope gave me the determination to stay strong through five months of grueling training and three days on the road with my colleagues to raise money for cancer research.

I know Grandma Merle was looking down on me as I crossed the finish line, proud of the accomplishment and what it will mean for those in need.


Daniel Weaver is a Bristol-Myers Squibb employee who volunteered to participate in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research.