On June 23, 2019, Ted Rung crossed the Ride for Roswell finish line, completing the 100-mile route.
No small feat for a 31-year-old who had just fought cancer for the third time.
“I guess I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until the last few miles,” Ted says. “I got pretty emotional about what I accomplished. Before that, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 15. I put a lot of work into it. And seeing my name painted on the road — it was awesome.”
Waiting for him at the finish line was his wife, Lauren Suriani. It was an emotional day for her, too.
“I had my big sunglasses on, and I didn’t take them off because I was crying behind them. It was incredible,” she says.
These iconic Ride for Roswell moments — the finish line, the names of all those touched by cancer — are things the Ride community can still experience this year at the reimagined Summer of the Ride as we ride together but apart to end cancer.
Ted and Lauren met snowboarding in 2006. Today they work at a ski resort in Vermont, where they also live full time. Ted was only 21 the first time he was diagnosed with cancer, in 2009. For the next eight years, he drove six hours each way to continue getting his treatment at Roswell Park. In 2017, he found out his cancer was back.
Because of the support of their families and because of Roswell Park, the couple decided that Ted would receive treatment in Buffalo again. That meant that same six-hour drive three to four times a month. But to receive the best care he possibly could, it was worth it.
Ted rang the victory bell at Roswell Park in late 2017. But again, too soon after, a CT scan revealed a nodule on his thyroid. It was thyroid cancer.
For the third time, Ted turned to Roswell Park. His thyroid was successfully removed, and in late 2018, he celebrated victory No. 3 over cancer. He now comes back every six months for checkups.
It’s an understatement to say this has put Ted and Lauren through a lot over the course of their relationship. For Lauren, it has been extremely difficult watching Ted go through this. But her advice is to keep living.
“You have to be resilient because it can take you right down with it,” she says. “But you learn to enjoy the big and small moments. And laugh at everything instead of getting angry. [Cancer] stops you in your tracks, but you can’t stop completely. It’s so hard to deal with it. But the only way to deal with it is to keep going.”
“Surviving cancer is just as hard as fighting it,” Ted says. “You make it through and you move on, but you really don’t. Because it’s always there. So seeing all these people participate and support it … it’s just a good feeling.”
Ted and Lauren are both planning on participating in the Summer of the Ride this year. Ted has his six-month follow-up appointment at Roswell Park at the end of June, so they will ride a couple of times in Buffalo, then continue riding in Vermont, representing Team Buffalo Eats.
“The reason we come back to Roswell is because of the support and the sense of community it has brought to our lives,” Lauren says. “I couldn’t see us going anywhere else. They saved Ted’s life — how do you say thank you for that? That’s why we try to ride and raise money to give back. It’s something I will be thanking them for, for the rest of my life.”
For Ted, knowing that people jump on their bikes every year for patients like him means the world.
Funds raised through the Ride benefit innovative cancer research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, including clinical trials and immunotherapy studies. Since the first Ride for Roswell was held in 1996, the event has raised more than $53 million.
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