Off-Road Racer Goes Extra Mile for Melanoma Research
Nov 6, 2023
Sutter Health
A group of adults stand by the entrance of a patient room in a hospital

(L-R) Michael Chinnavaso, Mark Seiler, Sarah Price, Maddy Price | September 2023

By Kathy Engle, Vitals contributor

A Caucasian man on a dirt bike holds a checkered flag

Mark Seiler

Thanks to generous donations to Ride-On for Melanoma Research, a patient suite has been named in honor of Shawn Price on the cancer unit of the Van Ness campus of Sutter’s CPMC in San Francisco.

Price was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma and passed away shortly thereafter at the age of 53. His close friend Mark Seiler decided to celebrate Price’s larger-than-life personality and love of off-road motorcycle racing, ultimately raising more than $30,000.

“We have the potential to significantly accelerate the evolution of personalized cancer care with the help of philanthropic gifts from Shawn’s family and friends,” says Dr. Mohammed Kashani-Sabet, medical director the CPMC Cancer Center and CPMC’s Center for Melanoma Research and Treatment.

Racing to Improve Treatments

Seiler’s mission started out with a phone call in 2018 from Price’s wife, Sarah, asking if he wanted her late husband’s 2001 Honda xr650r race bike. “Hell yes”, was Seiler’s quick response. The bike was the highest horsepower bike around at the time, tricked out with every possible advancement, but it needed to be rebuilt several times over the course of Seiler’s rides.

Seiler showed tenacity and grit over three years of off-road motorcycle racing to uphold his friend’s winning spirit. He raced in the NORRA 1000 and 500 in Baja, Mexico on Price’s revamped Honda 2001 Xr650r. In 2019, Seiler suffered a crash, and in April 2021, his bike engine blew only a few miles to the finish line. Then in October 2021, Mark won the NORRA 500, crushing the competition and winning first place overall.

A archive photo of two friends in bike racing uniforms

Mark Seiler and Shawn Price

Money raised by Seiler will benefit ground-breaking research at CPMC’s Center for Melanoma Research to enhance the work of medical director Dr. Kashani-Sabet, Dr. Ari Baron and Dr. Brian Andrews, who were involved with Price’s care. The funds will advance their collective work, including a new cancer treatment pathway that overcomes resistance to targeted melanoma therapy as well as personalized prognostic tools that help predict whether melanoma will spread to lymph nodes.

Despite the late detection of Price’s cancer, the medical team at CPMC was able to offer coordinated, multi-disciplinary care that was truly appreciated by his family. On September 6, Seiler, alongside Price’s wife and daughter, were on hand to dedicate the cancer suite. The date was especially meaningful as it would have been Price’s 60th birthday.

During the dedication, Seiler shared that Price was a real-life James Bond. “He was an amazing leader, friend and father/husband who inspired everyone around him. Riding his bike in this tribute was a great honor. Shawn’s spirit will never go away.”

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