The Pan-Mass Challenge 2022: Trusting Your Instincts and the Importance of Self-Advocacy

Team Bergmeyer recently rode in the 2022 Pan-Mass Challenge, which raises funds for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Our team has participated in the PMC ride for the past three years, raising over $30,000 for cancer research. Visit the Pan-Mass Challenge to learn more about The PMC mission, and support Team Bergmeyer through our PMC donation page.

Pre Ride photo2

For this year's Pan-Mass Challenge, Bergmeyer President Rachel Zsembery was asked to share her personal journey with cancer with her fellow cyclists. An essential takeaway from her experience is the importance of trusting your instincts and self-advocating for healthcare concerns. Below we have shared excerpts from Rachel’s message to the PMC community.

When I was expecting my son, I noticed a small spot on my cheek that didn’t look right to me. I made an appointment with my Doctor, who assured me it was nothing. I asked to see a dermatologist who poked around my face a bit, patted me on the hand, and told me I was healthy, hormonal, and that it was nothing. While I didn’t feel that it was “nothing,” I wanted to focus on what had been a challenging pregnancy and decided to let it go for the time being.

A few months after welcoming my beautiful son Spencer, I asked to see a different dermatologist who similarly dismissed my concerns. However, my search for a new doctor was soon put on hold as we noticed an odd and sudden change in one of my son's eyes.

Fortunately, a dear friend who is an ER pediatric physician took one look at a photo I texted her and instructed us to head right to the emergency room with the words – "Trust your instincts. Something is wrong."

After several days of tests across three different hospitals – with each doctor starting the exam by telling us our baby looked healthy and happy and ending with "but something seems wrong. My instinct is to keep testing," we finally had a diagnosis. My 5-month-old baby had Neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer. The canary in the coal mine was the tumor growing out of the nerve that controlled his eye function. Spencer received incredible care from his surgeons, his oncology team, his nurses, and support specialists.

2022 PMC Helmet and Shirts

I spent the next year and a half spending every free moment I had working on his recovery. During this time I was so thankful to have the support of my family, friends, and my incredible colleagues at Bergmeyer. Finally, coming out from the fog in the aftermath of my son’s health crisis, I decided to take control of my own health.

I found a new primary care doctor affiliated with the hospital where my son received such excellent care who assured me that she could refer me to a dermatologist who would take me seriously. That doctor took one look at what the others had so summarily dismissed and told me I had cancer and that they would need to remove it immediately. The biopsy soon confirmed his diagnosis, and I was in for surgery within weeks.

Today, my son, who is now eight years old, and I are both healthy and showing no evidence of cancer in our regular monitoring.

Over the three years that I have been part of the PMC, I have met so many people who said that their journey with cancer has been chasing down something that just didn’t seem right – in trusting their instincts.

In a world where women are continuing to lose more and more agency over their healthcare rights, it’s important for us all to remember to trust our instincts, demand to be taken seriously, and advocate for ourselves and for our others through participating in raising awareness through events like the Pan-Mass Challenge.

I am so thankful to be a part of the PMC Community and appreciate being given the opportunity to share my experience.

Living proof photo

Trending now

2023 Women's History Month: Q&A with the Women of Bergmeyer
In honor of Women's History Month and to commemorate the courage and achievements of the women who came before us, we’ve shined the spotlight on ourselves to share the thoughts and messages of our very own Bergies. These influential women inspire, pioneer, and break the bias of gender inequality in their everyday lives.
Tik Tok Gen Z web
How Gen Z and TikTok Created a Consumer Revolution
One of the most prominent present-day marketing challenges a business can face is capturing a target audience’s attention and keeping them intrigued for the long haul.
Hampshire Web Thumb
Enduring Design: Hampshire Dining Commons Turns Ten
We asked the UMass Amherst Dining Services team to share their thoughts, feedback, and statistics on the modern-day Hampshire Dining Commons.
Join us for the Upcoming Career Paths through PAVE Event in Boston
Help us grow the future of retail at Career Paths through PAVE.
HHAC 2023 Scholarship
The 2023 Hip Hop Architecture Camp x Bergmeyer Scholarship + Internship Program
We are excited to announce that the application window for the 2023 Hip Hop Architecture Camp x Bergmeyer Scholarship and Internship Program is now open!
Sociasl2 05
The Romance of Tangibility
In light of the recent movement for “vintage” innovation, Bergmeyer Graphic Designer Ariana Piacquadio reflects on the romanticization of the analog world. As the tables are rapidly turning backward with tech so commonplace, real-life experiences you can engage with using all your senses start to embody a new kind of nuance and exclusivity.
2022 CD Retails New Horizon
Retail's New Horizon
How can retail brands seize the moment and reinvent themselves?
2022 Behind the Bar Web
Behind the Bar
Operational efficiency is critical to ensuring a seamless experience in the hospitality industry. Our design team decided to get "behind the bar" with several sought-after libation destinations serving Boston's Seaport community to get a design perspective from the people integral to facilitating world-class restaurant experiences.
2022 SDAT Petaluma Web Full
Reimagining Petaluma’s Community as a 15-Minute City
The passionate locals of Petaluma called upon us to help them achieve their goal of becoming a more accessible “15-minute city,” where every resident can access most of their daily necessities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride.
2022 CK Meta Web
Connecting with Customers in Virtual Retail Experiences
How will shopping in the Metaverse compare with real-life experiences?
Promotions 2022 2023
Bergmeyer Announces 2022 Leadership and Practice Promotions
As we look forward to the New Year, we are celebrating the many achievements and successes of our team.
2022 Bthe Change Web
B the Change - A Commitment to Giving Forward
A new social responsibility mission statement that reinforces giving forward as a core part of our design collaborative.
2022 Quinn Metaverse Web
The Responsibility of Designers in a Virtual World
Although the Metaverse is still in its infancy, designers should be prepared to play a significant role in the next digital revolution.
2023 PAVE Scholarship web
The 2023 Bergmeyer x PAVE Scholarship and Mentorship Experience
Submit for the 2023 Bergmeyer x PAVE Scholarship and Mentorship Experience by January 13, 2023!
Metaverse Web
Designing the Future: The Meta-Dilemma on the Role of Designers in a Virtual World
Four designers share their unique perspectives on what we may experience in the Metaverse and task the design industry with being ready to create for both the physical and the virtual world.
Artboard 3
Design Outside the Lines
Built environments can guide our thoughts, behavior, and habits. So, in a world that is rapidly changing, why do many of the spaces we use every day remain the same? Bergmeyer Interior Designer Eliza Steele shares her thoughts on designing outside the lines.
Shutterstock 117585706
Designing Out Waste
Building waste accounts for a staggering 35-40% of worldwide waste in landfills, and carbon emissions from both building erection and deconstruction are increasing. These factors can be daunting when considering whether the design profession is an active or passive player- in the unending game we play each day with environmental management.
So-Ho Inspired: Design Trends in NYC
Our retail design team fueled our creativity and reinforced our desire for true connectivity.
Microsoft Teams image 2
Mike Davis on the role of Director of Corporate Social Responsibility
Transitioning from President to the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Mike had the opportunity to re-imagine his role within our Design Collaborative to focus on Bergmeyer's goals of serving the greater public good.
Microsoft Teams image 1
Influential Black Leaders, and their Stories that Inspire Us
Beyond the month dedicated to celebrating Black History are the people and their stories that have made a permanent and influential impact on our lives.