Kristin Skelly is giving back to others after overcoming her own battle with cancer.
Skelly is a mom living in Madison and teaches in her hometown, Guilford.
“I’m excited about the ride, I’m nervous about the ride,” she told NBC Connecticut. “It’s my first ride.”
Skelly will join hundreds of riders in the Closer to Free Ride in support of the Smilow Cancer Hospital on Saturday, September 8.
“I've always wanted to give back,” she said, “especially after going through so much and Closer to Free, it just seemed like the right time for me. I feel like enough time went by."
Enough time since she began adjusting to a new normal after her battle with cancer.
“I think it’s so important to pay attention to your body, and if you notice anything that’s changing at all, then just to follow-up on it,” Skelly said. “It’s important to get regular screenings, mammograms, ultrasounds, whatever you need.”
During the week of Thanksgiving 2014, Skelly said she felt a small lump in her right breast that led her to the doctors at Smilow.
“In January, I underwent a double mastectomy," she said.
After recuperating from surgery, Skelly spent the next several months undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
“It was pretty aggressive so the support of my family, friends, my Baldwin community where I work, the communities of Guilford and Madison really gave me so much strength," she said.
An old high school friend suggested she join his team for this year’s Closer to Free ride.
“He wanted to honor me,” Skelly said, “but also his sister is a two time breast cancer survivor."
Skelly said she is riding to raise money for Smilow’s medical teams that save lives and the hospital programs providing support for patients.
“Sometimes people think when you're treatments are over that you're all better,” Skelly said, “and I found that time after, probably the two years after my radiation had ended were the most difficult for me."
Skelly said sessions of Reiki, a Japanese relaxation technique, yoga classes and therapeutic massages have helped her heal.
“Take advantage of so many programs Smilow offers,” she said, “it really did bring me comfort during a difficult time."
Now, proudly wearing her survivor jersey, Skelly said she is ready for the 40 mile bike ride.
“Ten days after the ride, I will be three years cancer free,” she said.
There is still time to sign up for this year’s CTF Ride. In addition to the new 40-mile option, there are 10, 25, 65 and 100-mile rides.