Grateful Cancer Patient Pedals to Promote Myeloma Center

David Sutton of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently completed a five-day bike ride to raise $7,000 for the Myeloma Center.

David Sutton of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently completed a five-day bike ride to raise $7,000 for the Myeloma Center.

| David Sutton of St. Petersburg, Florida, was 42 and had an 18-month-old son when, on New Year’s Eve of 2004, he was diagnosed with myeloma and given a bleak prognosis from a cancer treatment center near his home.

In response, his local oncologist sent him to the UAMS Myeloma Center for a second opinion.

“I loved the doctors’ warm patient-oriented approach and decided to travel to Little Rock for treatment instead of being treated closer to home,” Sutton said. Following a tandem transplant at UAMS and treatment using the Total Therapy 3 protocol, Sutton spent nearly a decade in remission before relapsing in 2014.

After further treatment, Sutton, now 57, is in complete remission and his son is 16 years old. He travels to Little Rock every six months for check-ups with Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D.

“I was overwhelmed by the facilities available there and so appreciate how, aside from being one of the world’s leading institutions for myeloma treatment, everyone there from top to bottom believed in the mission and knew it was making a big difference in a lot of people’s lives,” Sutton said.

David Sutton of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently completed a five-day bike ride to raise $7,000 for the Myeloma Center.

Grateful for the additional years the Myeloma Center has provided, the financial analyst and managing director at Raymond James & Associates in Saint Petersburg, he wanted to give back. The vehicle he used? A bike he takes on a long ride nearly every year.

Before his five-day trip this past October, Sutton sent emails to friends, relatives and colleagues seeking donations.

Through the ride, he covered 208 miles, climbed 17,100 feet and raised $7,000 for the Myeloma Center to help increase awareness of and assist in treatment of myeloma and Castleman disease,  another disease his doctor specializes in treating.

He rode from the coal country border of Virginia and West Virginia to North Carolina with longtime cycling friend Frank Liccardo. The ride concluded in Surry County, North Carolina, near Mount Airy, the model for the fictional town of Mayberry, featured in the Andy Griffith Show 1960s TV comedy.

The weather was nice except for rain the first day.

“We planned to begin the ride at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg but instead drove 100 miles west to avoid the weather front,” Sutton said. The change shortened the first day’s ride time to 22 miles and led to them ride further south into West Virginia.

“There wasn’t a lot of traffic through there and certainly not a lot of cyclists,” Sutton said.

“All the houses were really close to the road and no one keeps their dogs on leash. We quickly had to recall our skills of riding uphill with one hand swinging the bike from side to side while spraying water with the other in order to keep all the loose dogs at bay,” he said. “It made for a short but stressful first day.”

In North Carolina, both the weather and canine conditions improved.

“For the most part, we had some great riding in rural countryside with minimal traffic,” Sutton said.