Participant Spotlight: Glenda and Suellen Adams

Participant Spotlight: Glenda and Suellen Adams

Glenda rides in honor of Suellen in 2023

June 20th, 2023  |  Victoria Rouse

Glenda and Suellen Adams participated in Badger Challenge in previous years to honor both of their fathers who had cancer. However in 2022, they participated in support of Suellen and her recent Cholangiocarcinoma diagnosis, a rare form of bile duct/liver cancer. While Suellen was active and in good health, she developed a side stitch at a 5K that wouldn’t go away. After a visit to Urgent Care which led to the ER, some scans and a biopsy, she received her diagnosis a few days later.

The news was a devastating shock to them both. Having both recently retired, they were looking forward to traveling and adventuring together for years to come. But all those plans were upended when they found out Suellen’s cancer was advanced and she likely only had months to live. They vowed to spend what remaining time they had together doing the things they loved.

Suellen adapted the mantra, shared from her brother, “eat the damn cake.” Meaning now was the time to do the things they wanted – not waiting for tomorrow, next week, or next month. So they took the trips, they spent time with their grandkids, and Suellen kept walking, running, biking, and swimming through her early chemotherapy treatments. Even participating in a super sprint triathlon six months after starting chemo. Despite side effects that caused her to use a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair, she persevered.

Last year’s Badger Challenge was 9 months after Suellen’s diagnosis. She had been through months of chemotherapy at that point which had shown some positive results, but the risks from the side effects were too high to continue. Suellen was no longer able to walk long distances or ride her bike, so they got an adult jogging stroller and Glenda pushed Suellen on the 5K course. Suellen loved to dress in costume, so the stroller was christened as the S.S. Minnow and they wore Skipper and Gilligan outfits. Badger Challenge gave them an opportunity to still celebrate being active together, in whatever form they could.

Unfortunately, Suellen passed away in November, just ten months after her diagnosis. This year Badger Challenge falls on the day before what would have been Suellen’s 67th birthday so Glenda will be participating in her honor. Glenda plans to ride at least 67 miles to thank UW Carbone for the care they gave Suellen and the time they gave them to be together.

Badger Challenge is striving to fund the brightest cancer minds at the University of Wisconsin, moving patient treatment initiatives and cancer research forward. That way patients can have more time to “eat the damn cake” with the ones they love.


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