The Patriots partnered with PEPSI® Zero Sugar this season to identify a fan who had never been to Gillette Stadium before and invite them for an unforgettable game day experience.
The organizations didn't have to look far, as Nicole Sutton identified herself, reaching out to the team by letter.
She was brought to tears on the sideline Sunday, watching as the Patriots warmed up to face the Kansas City Chiefs.
The moment carried more emotion than your average first NFL game experience.
"It's a bucket list type thing," Sutton said. "I guess when you get a cancer diagnosis, you look at things differently. You appreciate things more."
It was a long way for Sutton and her husband from Wilton, Maine, but she's used to making a drive down to Boston twice a month for appointments at Mass General.
She received her first breast cancer diagnosis at age 31 in 2016.
"I went through chemo and surgery and got the news that it paid off – I was cancer-free," Sutton said.
"Two years later I went back for a routine checkup and they found nodules in my lungs. They were hoping it was just the flu or something, but it came back, and it was more aggressive and terminal. I don't have what I call an expiration date, but I'm on chemo for the rest of my life. I'll never be able to work again because some days I can't get out of bed and it's a roller coaster."
Fortunately, Sutton felt healthy enough to make the hours-long drive to Foxborough.
She took in the view of the field from the new Gillette Stadium Lighthouse and received sideline passes for pregame, where her and her husband were greeted by Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. The couple also sat in on postgame press conferences with media, receiving a true VIP experience.
Sutton and her husband have been together since 2014, and his die-hard fandom rubbed off on her through the course of their relationship and three Super Bowls together.
The Patriots and Pepsi Zero Sugar would have been hard-pressed to find a local fan more deserving, as Sutton continues to check more things off her bucket list.
"I just want to keep exploring the world with my kids and my husband," Sutton said, mentioning she was raised an "Army brat."
"I've lived everywhere. My husband was born and raised in the town that we live in, pretty much, so just to travel with him and my kids and experience what there is outside of Maine."