BOSTON (CBS) – “I have wanted to do the PMC since I was 18,” said Kelley Bernard.
She was determined to ride but Bernard’s plans were delayed by cancer.
“I was diagnosed when I was 15,” she said.
Long-term side effects from leukemia meant long stays at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“I think we tallied it to 170 days over the course of two years that I was inpatient,” she said.
And four painful surgeries continued to keep Kelley off the bike. “I got both my shoulders replaced, both my elbows replaced,” she explained.
Kelley is now 10 years cancer-free. And her experience at Children’s Hospital inspired a career.
“I became really close with the nurses… because they treated me like a teenager,” Kelley said. “They didn’t treat me like a pediatric patient. I really just wanted to be like them.”
And now she is. Kelley a pediatric oncology nurse on the same floor where her own life was saved. She can bring a smile to the face of 3-year-old Bailey just as easily as she kids around with 17-year-old Wilfredo.
“I’m to the point now where it’s my job. And a lot of times I can relate to the kids, but at the same time I’ve grown so much, that I don’t really feel like I was there,” Kelley said.
With Kelley’s dream job in hand she had another goal to conquer: riding her first Pan-Mass Challenge, a two-day bike-a-thon to raise money for cancer treatment and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“Last year, I went over the finish line and burst into tears,” she said.
Kelley is among hundreds of cancer survivors who ride the PMC in a celebrated group known as “Living Proof.” For this year’s PMC ride, Kelley will once again be holding her current and future patients close to her heart.
“So you see the faces of some of these kids who are benefiting from the money and you also think of the kids who haven’t been diagnosed yet. The whole weekend is just very emotional.”
This year the Pan-Mass Challenge is looking to raise a record $52 million. WBZ is proud to be your official PMC station. Join us August 3rd at 7pm for Opening Ceremonies live from Sturbridge. We’ll also have live coverage of the ride on August 4th and August 5th.
CLICK HERE to support Kelley’s PMC ride.