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Connor O'Leary

Chief Mission Officer

About Connor

Connor was a 19-year-old professional cyclist when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He has since made it a priority to use his experience to advocate for the disease. He has shared his story and experiences around the world with numerous organizations, corporations, schools and hospitals. After graduating from the University of Utah with a BS in Strategic Communications, Connor joined the Testicular Cancer Foundation as Chief Mission Officer in the fall of 2015. As Chief Mission Officer, Connor uses his passion and first-hand experience to ensure males and their families have the resources and community that didn’t exist during his own battle.

My name is Connor O’Leary; I was born in Seattle and raised in Utah. I graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Communications. I have a passion for everything outdoors, particularly cycling. I started cycling competitively at the age of 13 and worked my way up the cycling ladder, going from the USA Junior National team, to the u23 USA National Team, to ultimately riding for one of the best professional development cycling teams in the world, Bontrager LIVESTRONG. Cycling led to many opportunities and experiences and at the age of 19, I found myself living in Europe.

Prior to heading off to live in Europe, I decided to go the doctor. I had a mass on my testicle that I wanted to make sure wasn’t an issue. So I went in, got checked out, and the doctor told me that I was fine. He told me to come back in a few years for another physical. I thought ‘Great’, and headed off to Europe. The season started out well but over time I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I thought maybe it was the intense race schedule wearing me down. I was getting much more fatigued than normal and had some real discomfort. So ultimately, I decided to go back to a different doctor. I went in and the the last thing on Earth I was expecting to hear was, ‘You have Cancer’.It was hard news to take. I quickly had surgery and not long after, started chemotherapy. During my second to last round of chemotherapy, I was rushed to the Emergency Room with blood clots that had exploded in both of my lungs. It almost killed me and created severe scar tissue buildup in my lungs. I spent almost 2 weeks in intensive care, while blood thinners ran through my veins trying to break down the clots. Hands down, it was one of the scariest weeks of my life. Eventually, I was released and able to finish my last few rounds of Chemotherapy.After my treatment and blood clot scare, I started to work on rebuilding my fitness and stamina with the hope of getting back to the top of cycling. It was a long hard road, but through hard work, determination, and really a new outlook on life, I was able to successfully achieve my goal of returning to professional cycling!

I am lucky to have had such a great support team through my cancer battle. My family was absolutely incredible and was there every step of the way. I really couldn’t have done it without them. My parents were at the hospital every single day, keeping track of my appointments, medications, etc. My sisters would bring meals, come play cards, and just be there to talk. They made the whole experience much better.

I know this sounds cliché, but after my diagnosis and treatment, I realized how fragile life is. I really wanted to take advantage of every opportunity and one of those opportunities was the CBS Television Show, “The Amazing Race.” I have watched the Amazing Race since I was 15, and decided that I was going to apply. I decided that my best friend (my dad) was going to be my partner. We shot a quick 3-minute application video and sent it in. Honestly, we didn’t expect to hear back. But to make a long story short, we heard back and ultimately found out we had been chosen!Unfortunately, our Amazing race experience was cut short, when on the second leg of the race my dad ruptured his Achilles tendon and tore his calf muscle. We pushed on, with my dad on crutches, but he needed to get home and have surgery. So on the 5th leg, we withdrew so my dad could get surgery.

We were disappointed to say the least, but about 6 months after the accident, we got a call from CBS and they asked us if we would be interested in coming back for another season of the Amazing Race. We ended up back on the show almost a year from my dad’s injury and this time we had a little bit of a different outcome, we WON!It was an incredible experience, and looking back, both my dad and I drew from our experience being cancer survivors. Going through hard things teaches you a lot about yourself, how far you can push the boundaries, and how to push on when things get tough.

I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to race professionally, as well as win the Amazing Race, but I feel even more blessed to be able to say I am a cancer survivor. I have been able to share my story with numerous organizations, corporations, schools and religious groups all around the country. Coming on board with TCF is an incredible opportunity. Testicular Cancer is something I am passionate about. Since my diagnosis and treatment I have thought a lot about what I can do to fight TC, to help prevent young men from going through what I did, or at least be a resource for someone who was diagnosed – and Matt and the TCF team are one step ahead of me. To see that there is an organization like TCF, and to see the good they are doing is inspiring. I just feel blessed to be a part of it. I am looking forward to getting started and saving lives.

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