WINCHESTER -- David Morse of Winchester is ready to ride the Pan-Mass Challenge with his wife on his mind and in his heart.
Not long after the pandemic started in 2020, David's wife Sue noticed something wrong with her tongue.
"It came out of nowhere," Sue told WBZ-TV.
"She looked in the mirror one day and couldn't stick her tongue out straight," David elaborated. "And asked me if I could stick my tongue out straight and I said yeah I can."
With the world at a standstill, the couple used telehealth to contact doctors and then an in-person visit followed.
And with the love of his life inside, David could only wait for word outside.
"To be in a car in a parking lot while she's in a hospital or a doctor's office and phoning in," David said, getting choked up. "That was really tough."
The day after Mother's Day, the couple received a diagnosis: a rare form of cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma.
Sue would need to undergo radiation on her tongue. Doctors also realized that would not work for her liver and lungs, where the cancer already spread.
"That was the hardest part about the diagnosis," David said. "Being told this was treatable but not curable."
David and Sue also had to find a way to explain all of this to their three daughters.
"That was a very scary, emotional time for me," David said. "Because I didn't know how they'd react. And to their credit, they were all very scared but not panicked."
About a year later, Sue met with a specialist at Dana Farber who put her in a clinical trial and gave the family hope for the future.
"It's really helping to stabilize the tumors and manage it," Sue said optimistically.
In fact, Sue, an avid runner, was even able to run this year's Boston Marathon. Crossing the finish line felt like a turning point.
"I just started pumping my fist," said Sue. "It was really wonderful. It was almost as if it was this victory lap in this journey. And I felt like if we can do that. We can do this."
Now, David is ready for his own journey riding in the PMC.
"I figure if she can run 26 miles, I should be able to bike 160 miles."
David will be raising money for Dana Farber. The couple is incredibly grateful for all the doctors there and the PMC for its tireless work to beat cancer.
"Realizing that none of this amazing work would be happening without the generosity and fundraising that comes from the PMC is just a huge motivation to me," David said. "And that's why I'm doing it."
Sue agreed. "They truly are heroes. I would say they're angels. They are absolute angels to us."
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