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Bruins' Bike Team Battles Pan-Mass Challenge Together

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - Eight years ago, Brian Hussey was diagnosed with cancer.

Now, every year when he makes the 192-mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown for the Pan-Mass Challenge as a member of the Boston Bruins Foundation bike team, he's living proof that it can be beat.

The PMC brings together thousands of cyclists riding together for a bike-a-thon every summer to raise funds for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Since being founded in 1980, the Challenge has become an event that raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country.

The Bruins became involved years ago when Bob Sweeney, former Bruin and Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, participated in the event to honor a friend. They then began to ride in honor of their 'pedal partner,' young boy named Jeff Hayes who has since passed away from Ewing's sarcoma.

"It's unbelievable. You wear the Spoked-B on your chest, and that's a huge team out there, and the support that you get from the people along the road when they see the Black and Gold, and the cheers that come out of it, it's unlike any other ride," said Hussey, who has participated for the past seven years.

"I used to ride it by myself, but when you come up as a single unit in that Black and Gold, people give that extra cheer, that extra 'Go Bruins!' it certainly helps to get you through this thing, get you all the way to the end."

"No doubt it's the best feeling that I've ever had, in the seven years I've been doing this, to ride with the Bruins' team."

Like many fellow riders, Hussey battled his cancer by undergoing treatment with a Dana-Farber clinical trial.

"It was about six and a half years ago that I finished up my treatment and there was certainly a time when I wasn't sure that I'd be around," said Hussey. "But, you know, to be able to do this year after year has been unbelievable, and to think about all of the money that we've raised this year, and over the last 35 years, all of these clinical trials and everything they have through Dana Farber."

"Eight years ago, when I started my treatment, I got into one of these clinical trials and if it wasn't for the Pan-Mass and everything that they've been doing, and certainly the Bruins team and all the money we've been raising, that trial might not have been available, so that's something that I think about when I'm riding this whole route."

"Every four months when I go back to Dana Farber, everything is A-ok, so to keep riding the bike, raising money and putting it towards these clinical trials, who knows, someone on the team or friends or family members down the road could need one of those trials."

The 2014 Pan-Mass Challenge presented even more challenges beyond the riding, with rain causing issues along the course. But as always, the cyclists rode on, with the help of their teammates beside them.

"I think people stepped up, the weather proved to be difficult but it gave everyone that extra boost to get through it and get it done," said Hussey. "And that's why they call it a challenge and it was certainly a challenge this weekend and people certainly came through."

After beating cancer, Hussey continues to ride, now with his wife by his side - or often leading the pack of 20-30 riders - and the Spoked-B on his chest.

"One of the greatest things, as far as that camaraderie, is you get 20 girls and guys all on the same team, everybody just powering through the course and everyone kind of takes their turn and pulls the whole team along the ride," he said.

"You can just kind of feel the whole team is one unit, starting from the beginning and making it all the way to the end as one."

"My buddy who rode on the team this year was saying he had never experienced anything like that and it certainly helped him, being part of such a group, a family, of riders to help him get through, it's certainly what the makeup is of the ride with the Bruins' team."

A lifelong Bruins' fan from Andover, Massachusetts, Hussey could have never guessed when he was just eight years old attending his first game that he'd one day be wearing the Spoked-B himself.

He also could have never guessed that he'd have to battle cancer, and then battle a 192-mile trek every year to help others do the same.

"It helped me, and that's why I ride," said Hussey. "Because it could help somebody else down the road."

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