Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coverage of my 15 minutes of Fame at PMC Night at Fenway

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By Krista Kano

Fenway Park- With a ukulele version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” playing over the loudspeakers, Stephen Pratt of Dover and 31 other cancer survivors rode their bikes from centerfield around Fenway Park’s warning track prior to Saturday’s baseball game between the Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. They were greeted by a standing ovation from a crowd already excited from the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup parade earlier in the day. 
The riders made their way to home plate and stood next to their bikes while fellow rider and cancer survivor Denise DeSimone sang the national anthem.

Saturday was Pan Massachusetts Challenge Day at Fenway Park.

In October 2008, Pratt was diagnosed with mantel cell lymphoma, a cancer of the B-cells that make antibodies. Of the 48 different kinds of lymphoma, mantel cell is the second rarest form, with only 3,000 cases known in the world.

Pratt ran cross country during college. After postgraduation knee problems, he borrowed a friend’s old bike and within a year was a licensed United States Cycling Federation Rider. Pratt continued to ride competitively into his early 30s and always stayed healthy. He didn’t seem to fit the bill for a cancer that typically attacks people between the ages of 70-79.

Even with the diagnosis, there was hope. 

“Cutting-edge research saved my life,” said Pratt. “This kind of cancer was considered universally fatal until literally two weeks before my diagnosis.”

Pratt followed the Nordic Regimen, consisting of seven rounds of high-dose chemotherapy and an autologous bone marrow transplant, a system in which stem cells are taken from the patient before high doses of chemotherapy and are replanted after treatment. 

During treatment, Pratt trained for his first PMC race.

Today, Pratt has been in remission for 27 months and counting. He is currently training for his third PMC race. 

The Fenway PMC Day marks the Red Sox’ ninth year as a presenting sponsor of the PMC, an organization that since its founding in 1980 has raised $303 million. This year’s cyclists, age 13-87 hailing from 34 states and six different countries, will chose from 11 different routes ranging from 25 to 192 miles. As the most lucrative single fundraising event in the country, the PMC this year hopes to raise $34 million. 

Pratt hopes to contribute $5,000 to the cause. He is training six days a week for 10 weeks, riding between 140 and 210 miles per week at an average rate of 19 miles per hour to prepare for his 192-mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown. The night before the challenge, he’ll load up on carbohydrates and water and will stay away from caffeine and alcohol. 

“The best way I can describe it is like a fuel line on a car. You can fill up the gas tank, but you have to keep the fuel line going. If you wait to eat until you’re thirsty or hungry, you’re already dead,” said the experienced rider who has also participated in Livestrong rides. 

But for Pratt, it’s not about the bike.

“There are a million things I could do to prove I’m a great cyclist. That’s not what this is about,” he said.

To contribute to Pratt’s ride, visit

Read more: Dover resident takes cancer fight into high gear at Fenway Park - Dover, MA - Dover-Sherborn Press


Mary F. C. Pratt said...

Excellent! Good article, too.

SMP said...

thanks. she took a few liberties with the facts or conflated our conversation with the interviews with other riders this is my FIRST PMC, so while I did ride my bike thru chemo, I wasn't training for the PMC that year! Still, a nice article overall...