Sue Zurface: ‘Queen of the Mountain’ Defies All Odds
“Queen of the Mountain” is the title given to the woman who achieves the fastest time climbing in a cycling road race competition. Accomplished cyclist Sue Zurface strives to win this title whenever she competes.
This year, Sue’s cycling career is thriving. After placing seventh in the 2015 Ohio Spring Racing Series, she geared up to participate in her third Pelotonia, the annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises millions of dollars for cancer research at Ohio State. Her Pelotonia motto is “180 miles – no excuses.” No obstacle, not even cancer, will keep her from persevering. “Illness is not an excuse to stop living,” Sue says.
Diagnosed in January 2013 with stage 1 chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Sue coped the best way she knew how: continuing her cycling passion by riding in her first Pelotonia. “The physical activity and the cycling have truly saved my life by keeping me healthy,” she says.
Sue’s cancer is incurable and can be managed only through cell therapy or a stem cell transplant. She is participating in a clinical trial under the guidance of John C. Byrd, MD, professor and director of the Division of Hematology at The Ohio State University and co-leader of the Leukemia Research Program at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). The trial is designed to help develop multi-targeted therapies that will lead to better patient outcomes.
Sue first became involved in Pelotonia after talking to her doctors at the OSUCCC – James. With only four weeks left before Pelotonia 13, she quickly became dedicated to the cause. Raising her first $2,200 in two weeks, Sue realized how much philanthropy can bring people together.
While riding for the first time, she connected with people who helped her push through the pain. Her “angel” in this ride was a man whose wife had a brain tumor. Every time Sue lost her pace, he motivated her to keep cycling. Even more inspiring was Sue’s goal to push through her treatments and ride in Pelotonia again in 2015.
“My doctors at The James have never limited me from riding my bike,” she says. “Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, so take the adventures as they come.”
She is grateful for the support from the staff of the OSUCCC – James as she follows her passion for cycling. Pelotonia is one of her favorite events because of its goal to end cancer. She loves the fact that no money raised by riders is put into overhead; every dollar is given directly to the OSUCCC – James in support of cancer research.
“Cancer is a part of every single person’s life. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this disease. Pelotonia is a fabulous way to give back,” Sue says.
She is building a legacy not only for her family and friends, but for the entire cycling community and all who are battling cancer. Pelotonia is one of many cycling events that give her confidence to overcome obstacles and become stronger. She encourages everyone to participate, including the healthy, the survivors and those who need a reason to keep fighting.
“Everyone is fighting a battle,” Sue says. “Stay on the bike, keep moving forward and be kind to everyone, because you don’t know what the person next to you is handling. We are all in this together.”