For more than 35 years, Irene Wetmore has worked to help patients battling cancer and makes it her mission to keep a positive attitude.
Wetmore says the best part of her job is talking with those who sometimes feel nervous.
"My goal is to really keep the patient comfortable and not be so stressed because people really come in stressed and nervous about having a CT scan," said Wetmore. "I try to keep it very upbeat and light-hearted, I actually try to talk about things other than what they’re there for."
The positive attitude was needed after she made a trip to her doctor nine years ago.
"It was really eye-opening when I got diagnosed with lung cancer because I never thought I would have something like that because I never really smoked."
Wetmore considers herself lucky after doctors quickly removed a section of her lung.
"After going through the procedure, myself, I know what it’s like to be a patient and I try to keep that in focus when I’m taking care of patients," said Wetmore. "I know what they are going through."
She’s gearing up for fourth year of participating in the Closer to Free ride. This year marks the second time she’s teamed up with her husband to ride a tandem bike.
"A lot of people claim that’s a way to test a marriage is to ride a tandem bike together," said Wetmore. "He’ll say that he does all the work and I say I do all the work but it’s actually a team effort, so we ride on an tandem bike, it’s a total team effort, you have to pedal the same way."
The couple is a part of Tony’s Tigers, one of the many teams looking to help raise funds for Smilow.
The team has raised close to $130,000 for cancer research.
Denise Hindinger is the team captain who came up with the name in honor of her father and rides in honor of both her parents who passed away from cancer.
"It is inspirational, and I think they would be proud, so I think they would be proud," said Hindinger.
Hindinger says it’s her long-time friend, Irene that keeps her motivated.
“I never knew that Irene had her issues,” said Hindinger. "I never really realized that it was cancer because she was so quiet about it."
The two are set to take part in the ride together to help raise money for those who are still fighting.
"It means a lot to me because I’m a survivor but it also gives other people inspiration and hope that they can be survivors as well," said Wetmore. "I try to tell my story to patients a lot, that I’ve been through this, so you can do it too."
Smilow Cancer Hospital is Connecticut’s largest provider of cancer care, treating more than 45 percent of the 20,000 patients diagnosed with cancer annually in the state.
You don’t have to ride a bike to enjoy the day. The Finish Line Festival has kids activities, food trucks and live music.
You can also do your part by volunteering, donating to the Ride and visiting one of the many cheering stations along the route listed on the website. You can find more information on the Closer to Free ride here.
NBC Connecticut is proud to be the media sponsor for the 9th annual Closer to Free Ride on Saturday September 7.