Team BS

Becky Sherburne is the Honorary Patient of the 2023 Seacoast Cancer 5K.

Becky Sherburne, MBA, BSN, RN, CNML is a lot of things. She’s a mother, grandmother, friend, mentor, community leader, outdoor enthusiast and a nurse. Becky has worked as a nurse at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital for 16 years and is currently the Director of  Inpatient Services. She is a well-respected leader at the hospital and a champion for her staff. But for one Wentworth-Douglass nurse, Becky is also her mother.

“My mom is a fearless leader, ambitious to a fault, caring, empathetic, and full of life,” says Kendra Sherburne, RN. “She is also my biggest supporter and has been my inspiration throughout my life.”

From the outside, Becky is a healthy, very active person. She is an avid biker, hiker and runner and has participated in the Seacoast Cancer 5K countless of times. But in May 2021, things changed. At just 49 years old, Becky was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma and discovered she had 14 tumors in her brain, multiple nodules in her lungs and throughout her entire GI tract. To say the news was shocking, was a dramatic understatement. “It knocked the wind right out of me,” says Kendra. “I think the only person it didn’t stop, was my mom.”

When Becky received her diagnosis, she learned there is normally a four- to six-month life expectancy. Barbara Civiello, MD, Medical Director, Medical Oncology at the Mass General Cancer Center (MGCC) at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital (formerly the Seacoast Cancer Center), immediately talked with Becky and devised a course of action. “She was so compassionate; she cared about me enough to see me on a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t expect that. She went above and beyond for me,” says Becky.

Dr. Civiello jumped into action and arranged for a myriad of tests and an immediate biopsy of a lump on Becky’s back and in her lung. Things moved quickly and the kindness and caring that was shown to Becky by Dr. Civiello and the cancer center staff was second to none, according to Becky. With a positive test for melanoma, Dr. Civiello wasted no time and arranged for Becky to see Ryan Sullivan, MD – an expert in melanoma – at the MGCC at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.

The news was bleak. Dr. Sullivan told Becky that while there are some newer treatments for melanoma that have shown promising results, she should be prepared and get her affairs in order. It was difficult to comprehend. But through it all, Dr. Civiello and the rest of the cancer center staff have been by Becky’s side. “She has been my champion,” says Becky.

The MGCC has become very important to the Sherburne family over the last couple of years. “When I go to the cancer center, everyone knows my name and the tea I like to drink. The staff are always so kind and caring and respectful of my position in the hospital,” says Becky. “They ask about my family and make me feel special as if I’m the only patient there! It’s the little things that matter most.” Kendra agrees. “The amount of love and overwhelming support everyone showed not only my mom, but my entire family, has been nothing short of incredible.”

Receiving Becky’s diagnosis was understandably shocking for the Sherburne family, especially for someone as healthy and active as Becky. “It was a helpless feeling,” Kendra said. “We needed to do something.” Kendra felt that the Seacoast Cancer 5K was the perfect way to honor her mother’s work as a nurse, her love of running and now, as a patient. “To be so quickly put in a position that we needed care from them, it only felt right to try and raise as much money as possible in hopes that one day no loved ones will ever have to feel the fear of a cancer diagnosis.” And with that, Team BS was born.

Team BS has been the top fundraising team at the Seacoast Cancer 5K for the past two years, raising over $50,000 for the cancer center. “It is the most incredible feeling to give back to the cancer center and the doctors and nurses who have done so much for my mom and my family,” said Kendra.

Two years have now passed since Becky’s diagnosis, and while it hasn’t been easy, she’s still pushing forward and feels grateful for the care she has received at Wentworth-Douglass. “I’m blessed to still be alive two years later with my cancer under control thanks to the wonderful doctors like Dr. Civiello and Dr. Sullivan,” she says. “I don’t believe I’d be here today without the outstanding doctors nurses and staff at the MGCC or the love and support from my family, friends and colleagues.” Becky said. “It’s remarkable. To say, ‘thank you’ seems too simple and certainly not enough.”

Kendra is happy to be giving back to the cancer center in honor of her mother and hopes that her efforts and that of her Team BS teammates, will help other families on this journey and one day, lead to finding a cure for this awful disease. “I think it is safe to say that every single person has been affected by cancer in some way,” Kendra says. “She is why I run.”

And while Becky won’t be running, she knows how important the cancer center is to families throughout the Seacoast. “When I was asked to share my story, I was reluctant as I don’t like the spotlight, but it’s such an amazing story of an amazing place with amazing people doing amazing work. How could I not share?”

Team BS will be back in action for the 10th Annual Seacoast Cancer 5K and trying reach their fundraising goal of $15,000. To support Team BS or any of the other fundraising teams or to register on your own, visit SeacoastCancer5K.org. The 10th Annual Seacoast Cancer 5K will take off on September 24, 2023 at the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth.