Susan Glisson of Auburn was an athlete growing up — a swimmer, softball player, cyclist. She was also an athletic trainer for the Auburn University football team. However, a cancer diagnosis changed her physically and mentally. After beating breast cancer twice and finding her inner strength again, Glisson is cycling in Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, a cross-country ride to raise money for cancer research.  

“This is a time for me to show myself and others that cancer will not win over my body,” Glisson said. “It’s a time to show strength in mind and body. It’s a time to prove to myself I am still alive and able to still be an older athlete. It’s a time to share stories of survival and loss due to cancer and raise money to help improve and increase survivorship.” 

This September, Glisson will join more than 126 fellow Bristol Myers Squibb employees as they celebrate a decade of Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer. The epic cycling event raises funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a charitable organization dedicated to achieving victory over cancer through research. 

“This ride is important because, that was a blip in time,” Glisson said. “When you have had cancer before, you kind of change the way you see life. You want to embrace life, but you are afraid. Being an athlete in my past, I was afraid to do things. So, I’m taking my life back — not only my life, but my body — by doing this, and proving to myself I can do it, but then also proving to others that cancer doesn’t have to ruin your life.” 

Glisson is riding with her group of 12 Bristol Myers Squibb employees for up to 80 miles per day for three days, contributing to the nearly 3,000 miles from Cannon Beach, Oregon, to Long Branch, New Jersey. 

“It’s a lot better when you are riding with people,” Glisson said. “It’s not as boring, but you don’t want to let your teammates down either because each one of us has worked really hard and you just want to make sure you are ready for that 80 mile trek every day.”

Glisson, a senior institutional cardiovascular business manager for Bristol Myers Squibb, will be cycling her segment — from Saint Louis, Missouri, to Indianapolis, Indiana — on Sept. 25 through 27. Her reasons for riding are two-fold she said. One, Glisson wants to raise research funds for a disease that afflicted her over the course of three decades, and two, for herself. 

“One, I’m honestly trying to raise as much money as I can,” Glisson said. “That’s real important to me. Seeing how cancer treatment has evolved from 1997 to 2015 is amazing. And if we didn’t have research, I wouldn’t be here. But also my goal is to finish. Not stop and wave the white flag. It’s important to me that I don’t give up because its painful and hard, because I’ve been through worse and cancer patients deserve more. They deserve for me to go through a little bit of pain to be able to complete my journey and raise the money they deserve for cancer research.”

To prepare for her ride, Glisson has been following a training regimen constructed by former Olympians and professional cyclist, riding five days a week, totaling about 190 miles over the seven days.

“We have these trainers, past Olympians or professional cyclists, that have put us on a training schedule on what we are supposed to do,” Glisson said. “You have to get used to sitting on a bike for a while.”

 Glisson is a survivor; mother to her son Garrison (meaning Warrior); and wife to her husband Mike, who was an offensive guard on the Auburn University football team (‘89) and is now a local football coach at Loachapoka High School. Glisson is a strong supporter of her community’s athletics and for many years was the chairperson for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Mobile, Alabama. She served on the cancer board, Look Good Feel Better committee and was a Bosom Buddies facilitator and mentor. 

“I do see myself as a mentor because I am an open book,” Glisson said. “I want people who are afflicted with cancer, specifically breast cancer, to understand the journey and what they go through, maybe some of the questions that they need to ask their physician. Also, [I will] try to get family members and friends to understand that you can’t catch cancer. So, don’t isolate that person, embrace them, act normal, let them be themselves. If they want to cry, let them cry. When you go through this, there are so many emotions, and it’s overwhelming. So just having a soundboard … I like to be a soundboard for those people, and then just let them know what you’re experiencing is normal and okay and that you’re going to get through this.”

To find out more information or to donate to the ride, visit