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Why I PMC - Sean Sullivan

Published Date:   June 18, 2024

Topic:   Living Proof, Why I PMC, #WHYIPMC, #PMCLivingProof, PMC 2024, #OneInABillion, #PMC2024

#WhyIPMC guest blog by Sean Sullivan, 3-year Living Proof rider

This year I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge because Dana-Farber saved my life. This will be my third time riding in this amazing event to raise money for Dana-Farber.image2-Jun-18-2024-03-58-36-7912-PM

In December 2019, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy after experiencing minor symptoms. I remember waking up during the colonoscopy and being told they located a tumor in my rectum. Still in a daze after the colonoscopy, a doctor entered the room and told me he found a tumor he believed to be cancerous. On December 5, 2019, I received a phone call stating that I had stage three colorectal cancer. My whole world changed in the blink of an eye, I was terrified, felt alone and my future seemed uncertain. One thing I knew for sure, I was going to kick cancer’s ass.

In 2020, I underwent six surgeries. I also received a chemotherapy regimen consisting of 4 rounds of chemotherapy followed by 28 days of radiation and then another 4 rounds of chemotherapy. My treatment course had several bumps along the way, and I ended 2020 with an unexpected urgent surgery. Finally on November 11, 2020, I received the news every cancer patient dreams of hearing. I was NED meaning there was no evidence of disease. I was excited to move past my cancer diagnosis and to never look back. Unfortunately, I learned that my life after cancer could be just as difficult as the treatment I received. Many of the cancer survivors I have met through this difficult time battle with some of the same things I have had to work through in the past several years. Whether it is constant anxiety of your cancer returning, depression, worrying about your upcoming scans or blood work, recurring doctor appointments or working through the daily side effects from surgery. Life after cancer is challenging.

In 2023, my cancer journey has continued to be difficult and a disaster. The last six months of 2023 have been the most difficult months since cancer. Due to having colorectal surgery, I was diagnosed with LARS. To put it simply, somedays I have frequent trips to the bathroom, frequent as in twenty-five times. I have tried everything to control this and there seems to be no solution to the problem. The last six months have brought me back to when I finished treatment, It has become extremely discouraging and depressing. The only way to gain some control is to not eat all day long and to try some other personal things that I have to do. However, none of those have worked. These last six months, I lost all hope and became pretty depressed. I lost my will to do most things because of going to the bathroom so frequently. I have missed my kids’ games, fun events with family, going out with friends and mostly seclude myself to my house to make sure a bathroom is available. I have been depressed and the only way to get through most days have been to fake it just enough to get by and through the day. Due to feeling so low, it’s effected personal relationships with friends, family and coworkers. I am shocked most people even want to be around me on a daily basis. Most days, my only concern would be if I would be stuck to the bathroom and didn’t care about anything else. The only thing that would bring me some joy was having some drinks at the end of the night. This, of course, is never a good solution, and it was starting to become a problem.image1-Jun-18-2024-03-58-36-8551-PM

During 2023, I had the amazing opportunity to ride my bike in Fenway Park as a Living Proof survivor with Pan-Mass. I met so many amazing people and heard amazing stories. Since the event, I have connected with several of those people on social media and have stayed in touch. One person in particular, rides with Team Forza-G group, an amazing fundraising group of individuals who have personally raised $6.75 million for the Pan-Mass. I have spoken to her throughout the year on several occasions. Recently, I had an MRI and a colonoscopy due to my debilitating symptoms. The colonoscopy was okay however the MRI found some concern in my bladder and I need to have a cystoscopy later this month (There is only one way too look inside the bladder…yikes). The individual I connected with reached out to see how I was and if everything was okay. Just a few months ago, I learned that this person’s cancer returned and was now fighting stage four cancer and has two young children. I spoke with her and was devasted, however, she was in good spirits and told me she was going to kick cancers ass again! I was shocked when she reached out to me to see how I was doing. Here is someone fighting cancer again and she is concerned about my test results. We talked for a bit and then I was asked if I was riding the PMC again this year. Embarrassed to say probably not because I was in self-pity b**** mode, I asked if she was riding this year. I was floored when she said “F*** yes! I’m riding I can’t wait.” I couldn’t even imagine what she was saying. Here I am feeling sorry for myself, not working out, not engaging with friends, feeling depressed, drinking and just having a pity party for myself and this person is excited to ride the toughest two-day event I have ever done. I can’t imagine the strength she has and what a loser I was being. I signed up later that day and can’t wait to train and ride for people like this.

One amazing thing that people won’t understand unless you partake in this ride, is that the Pan-Mass is an amazing family. It isn’t about the money raised or the 200 miles you ride, it’s about the amazing people who are fighting cancer every day, had cancer or are supporting people they know with cancer and raising money for them and their loved ones. We all have a connection and bond that is inspirational and impressive. After hearing her spirit, I can’t imagine not riding and raising money to end cancer. I can’t wait to ride again and I thank you for all your support.

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