Erin, 62.5 mile rider

Erin is passionate about the outdoors, especially running. Chances are you’ll find her up before dawn somewhere along the beach with the other members of her running club.

But one day in the fall of 2014, this young, athletic woman received some devastating news about her health. She had Stage 1 breast cancer. What made the news even more difficult was that she and her boyfriend Tom were planning a future together. Thoughts of the future were now clouded with uncertainty.

Erin chose to come to Smilow Cancer Hospital because of its reputation. Given the choice of other hospitals, Smilow felt right to her. After just her first meeting with Dr. Sarah Mougalian, Erin knew she had made the right decision. “I wasn’t in a place emotionally or psychologically to do my own research,” says Erin. “Dr. Mougalian walked me through the whole process and made me feel very secure with the options she gave me.”

Before surgery was performed, Erin underwent several months of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor. The surgery itself was followed by continued immunotherapy treatment, which she completed after 12 months. It was a difficult time, but Erin felt complete confidence in her team of Smilow caregivers.

Their coordinated efforts and their compassion went a long way in easing Erin’s stress and speeding her recovery.

And then of course there was Tom, who was by her side through every moment of her journey.

Erin was so inspired by the support she received from so many people that just two months after her second surgery, she did something remarkable. She signed up to bike 25 miles in the fifth annual Closer to Free Ride. “I was just compelled to want to help,” says Erin.

“When you’re battling cancer, it’s similar to being in a race with so many hills.”

The athlete in Erin was back. And this time not simply to compete. She and Team “Wishes Do Come True”– a tiny team with a big heart – raised $8,600 for the hospital that did so much for her and that she knew was doing so much for so many others. “When you’re battling cancer, it’s similar to being in a race with so many hills.” says Erin. “Crossing that 25-mile finish line is like a metaphor for conquering the beast we call cancer.”

And there were more milestones to come for Erin. In September 2016, she rode again, this time completing the 62.5-mile course with Tom by her side. Then that November, she and Tom, the man who was there for her in her most difficult days, began a new life together as husband and wife.

Be part of the Closer to Free community

Find out how you can take part in the 2017 Closer to Free Ride.