Doctor helps local cancer survivor train for first triathlon

Friday, June 26, 2015
VIDEO: Local cancer survivor competening in triathalon
A local cancer survivor from West Chester, Pennsylvania is getting some last minute advice before his first triathlon this weekend.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many athletes will be participating in the Johnson and Johnson Tri-Rock Philadelphia Triathlon this weekend.

The event raises money for pediatric cancer research at the Children's Hospital.

And this year, one participant has a very personal reason why he's competing.

Steven Stewart spent a lot of time as a patient at the Children's Hospital two years ago.

Now, he is healthy and wants to "pay it forward."

The 18-year-old from West Chester, Pennsylvania is getting some last minute advice before his first triathlon this weekend.

But it's not from his coach, it's Doctor Susan Rheingold - his oncologist, or cancer doctor.

Two years ago, when he was 16, Steven wasn't feeling well.

"I was just experiencing the worst stomach pains I've ever felt, like the worst pain I ever felt really," he said.

He was diagnosed with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, an aggressive cancer.

"When the diagnosis came in, it was shocking to say the least," says Steven's mother, Judy Zeloyle.

Doctor Rheingold says after surgery, Steven needed intensive chemotherapy.

During that time, she talked to him about her experience doing triathlons.

"It's always been my dream to get a patient out there as well," said Dr. Rheingold.

This year that dream is coming true. Steven is now healthy - and ready to race.

He even got his little brother, 4-year-old Zach, to help him train. The pair can be seen in a fun video he posted on YouTube.

Steven says doing the triathlon is a way to pay back the hospital that saved him.

Money raised from the triathlon goes towards cancer research at CHOP.

And Dr. Rheingold says with Johnson & Johnson as the title sponsor, it's expected to raise up $500,000.

"That is the kind of money that can really make a huge difference in childhood cancer research," she said.

Steven and his family also hope his story of survival inspires other kids battling cancer.

"I hope they see what he is doing and what they can accomplish," said Judy.

"I feel like by doing the triathlon, I finally returned to where I was before the cancer," said Steven.

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