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Supporting Closer to Free and our Patients

August 17, 2020
by Emily Montemerlo

Susan Faraone, BSN, CHTC, Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant Coordinator and Sunshine Sousa, BSN, OCN, NP-7 clinic charge, are both oncology nurses at Yale New Haven Hospital. They are friends, colleagues, and veteran participants in the annual Closer to Free ride. This year the ride will be held virtually, and Susan and Sunshine will continue to take part in what will be the 10th annual ride on September 12th. The two nurses share the passionate goal of raising awareness and funds for cancer research at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Susan has been working at Yale New Haven Hospital for almost 30 years and she has ridden in every Closer to Free ride. She rides with her friend Joe & Team Capobianco, a team made up of several survivors and friends. In 2011, Susan met a young patient named Peter who had been diagnosed with leukemia and received a stem cell transplant. He encouraged her to sign up for CTF and to register to ride 100 miles. Peter was her biggest cheerleader and when he passed away a few weeks before the ride, Susan rode in his memory. She continues to ride yearly in honor of Peter and other patients, friends, and family members. “Our patients are the heartbeat of what drives us to climb the first, second, and third hill and to come to work every day. They are our inspiration. We want them to know that they are supported and are never alone. This is why I ride.”

Sunshine has been an oncology nurse since 2001. Two years later she faced her own diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Sunshine is a survivor. She attributes her remission to her tenacity with a lot of help from her medical team, family, and friends. Sunshine first participated in the Closer to Free Ride in 2011 and 2012 as a volunteer. In 2013 she decided to join as a rider. She celebrated 10 years of being cancer free by riding 62.5 miles with two of her former patients. When 2014 arrived, she trained all summer and conquered the Closer to Free Ride Century. “Cancer has no boundaries, it affects us all in many different ways,” she notes on her CTF fundraising page. “It impacts those diagnosed, survivors, families, friends, and loved ones left behind to make sense of it all. I ride for myself, but also for my patients, family members, and everyone affected by cancer!”

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on August 17, 2020