Posted at 11 a.m., April 14, 2016

Cowgirl Tough

Roper keeps hope through hardship

Daniel Lucero

Roping the future:

Syerra "CY" Christensen, a breakaway and teem roper for the LCCC rodeo team shares her experience with cancer

For college students who feel they are struggling because they must wade through hours of homework after working all day instead of going out with their friends, hearing one of their classmate’s stories may serve as a reality check. Syerra “CY” Christensen, a breakaway and team roper for the Laramie County Community College rodeo team, truly knows what it’s like to struggle. “It could be worse,” said Christensen, a little bit of homework or work is nothing I’m just lucky to be alive.” Christensen knows exactly what it’s like to live life to the fullest.

She finds joy in things like riding her horse, practicing for her breakaway and team roping events, and being with her family.

Battling Cancer

When Syerra was younger she battled a rare form of kidney cancer called Wilms Tumor; at the age of 3 she had to have her kidney removed. Her body was clear of cancer for about a year, but when she was 5 more spots showed up. After a couple more years of chemo, the future was looking bright for Christensen. Her body was clear of cancer yet again, until she was 9. She couldn’t remember much about her cancer scares or treatments when she was younger.

“I remember the scare when I was 9 more than any of them,” Christensen said. “The doctors misdiagnosed me and thought I had Wilms Tumor again, but I actually had thyroid cancer. I had to go through chemo and radiation treatments but thyroid cancer is treated differently. Chemo and radiation makes you sick for quite a while. For a three-or four-month period I would have to go through treatment for three weeks and then get a break for one week. I think things happen for a reason.”

She has some advice for those who may be going through cancer: “Keep your head up, try to stay positive, and never give up because there’s always hope,” she said.

Even though she has experienced a time of hardship she still finds a way to stay positive.

Staying positive with rodeo

“I have so much drive to want to rodeo and rope, it’s my passion. It would suck to let something like cancer hold me back. I always try to keep a positive mindset,” she said.

“I like to take practice seriously every time I practice,” Christensen said. She proved that by earning the title of 2014-2015 Central Rocky Mountain Region Breakaway roping champion.

“I focus on what I need to do in order to get a calf roped or steer roped,” Christensen said. “I worked really hard to do so, my parents pushed me a lot from when I was younger until now and that’s been a huge reason as to why I can compete so well.”

Christensen said she also competes in team roping. Her partner, Caden Packer, goes to school at Eastern Wyoming College so they don’t get a lot of one-on-one time to practice, so they practice individually and communicate when they have the opportunity to do so.

“We usually talk to each other before our run, and make a game plan,” Christensen said. “In order to qualify for the CNFR (College National Finals Rodeo) you have to be in the top 3 in your region for your event.”

“I keep roping and try to practice often, you always think about your event even out of season,” she said.

Christensen really enjoys Laramie County Community College, “I like the smaller class sizes and the fact that you get to know everyone, I think it’s a really good school,” she said.

Envisioning success

When preparing for rodeos, Christensen likes to envision her success.

“Everyone has rough rodeos, you just have to shake it off and look forward to the next one, I don’t like being angry so I just try being positive.”

In college rodeo there are 10 rodeos between the fall and spring seasons.

“It’s kind of tough,” Christensen said. “There’s a little bit of pressure to succeed, especially when it’s coming down to the last few rodeos of the season.”

Not only is there pressure to do well in rodeos, there’s also some pressure to do well academically. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association requires all rodeo athletes to maintain a 2.0 GPA. This applies to all college rodeo athletes across the nation.

Christensen is optimistic that she and many of her teammates will qualify for the CNFR.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction to do so, practices have been going good so yeah, I think a lot of us will qualify,” she said.