Westborough cancer survivors participate in Pan-Mass Challenge

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Westborough cancer survivors participate in Pan-Mass Challenge
Jim and Loreen Yearick pose at the finish line.

WESTBOROUGH – Two Westborough residents who have beat cancer were among a parade cheered on by the Red Sox Nation last month.

Jim Yearick and Linda Rosenthal are members of the Pan-Mass Challenge Living Proof community, and they were among the riders and volunteers who are undergoing or have undergone treatment for cancer who took a lap around Fenway Park on July 22.

“I did it, and what a great event it is. It’s one of those events that are somewhat emotional because of the journey all of us have gone through,” Yearick said.

Yearick added, “The support the PMC gives to all riders, including Living Proof riders, is really remarkable. It was a really special night at Fenway.”

Meet Jim

The challenge was held Aug. 6-7.

Yearick is a member of the Patriot Peddlers, a biking team of 170 riders, which is sponsored by New England Patriots CEO Bob Kraft.

“We have a tight friendship and bond through the PMC,” he said of the team.

In 2019, two weeks after a long 200-mile bike ride for others with cancer through the Pan-Mass Challenge, Yearick traveled to Paris for a work conference where he was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer.

When he heard the words “you have stage-four cancer,” Yearick said he ignored the five-year survival rate statistic and remained positive for his family, including his wife of 26 years and their two children.

“It [the diagnosis] is tough to grapple with, but I refuse to think about anything other than positivity. I always think about the road forward,” he said.

He went to the hospital and he was immediately operated on to remove the malignancy.

After the life-saving surgery, he flew home to Westborough, and he was treated by doctors from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“I was really lucky because I was under the care of the chief of gastrointestinal diseases as well as the chief of liver diseases,” he said.

Yearick underwent more surgery on his colon and liver as the cancer metastasized as well as six months of chemotherapy, which he completed in April 2020 when COVID-19 struck.

“I consider myself lucky because I was able to have all of the surgeries and get out of the hospital before everything hit,” he said.

After chemotherapy, his CT scans have remained clean.

Through chemotherapy and the pandemic, Yearick continued his training and participated in the virtual Pan-Mass Challenge.

Thanks to his fundraising efforts, for three consecutive years, Yearick has been included in the top fundraising category.

These past two years, Yearick and his wife raised about $17,000 per year. In the last six years, Yearick has raised $60,000 independently.

Meet Linda

Rosenthal became involved with the Pan-Mass challenge 20 years ago when she started riding for a friend who died of cancer at 32. Little did she know she would also end up riding for herself.

Rosenthal was diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy a few days before the PanMass Challenge.

When she arrived at the event she still had a bandage on from the surgery.

“I thought, ‘Isn’t this ironic,’” she said.

She felt “surprised and numb” after receiving the diagnosis. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor and although Rosenthal did not test positive for the BRCA gene, she still plans on undergoing genetic testing.

Rosenthal said cancer has changed her life as after being diagnosed she purchased a beach house.

“I was like, what am I waiting for,” she said.

When she attended the event after receiving her diagnosis, Rosenthal said her fellow PMC volunteers told her she was now a survivor and gifted her a pin.

“When volunteering three days after my lumpectomy, I actually had this pride because I was a survivor,” she said.

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