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Patient Testimonies At LOWVELO Peloton Rally Remind Us Why We Ride

jill simmonds stands next to a bike painted blue for lowvelo

Jill Simmonds poses for a picture next to her bike.

Spirits were high at LOWVELO’s recent ride and rally — new friendships formed and new ideas made the rounds, even during moments that left many feeling a little choked up.

At ease with the honesty and healing camaraderie in the room, Jill Simmonds — a sales associate with LOWVELO partner VWR — felt compelled to share her very recent news. “I had no anticipation of saying anything, but I got diagnosed this week with breast cancer,” she says.

Simmonds says it was tough news to receive, but her decision to ride in LOWVELO already had been made.

“Before I got the results of my biopsy, I said, ‘Sign me up,'” she says, putting her arm around the woman next to her. “I’m happy to participate because my sister-in-law here fought breast cancer last year, so we’ve already been through it in the family.”

Now signed on for the Sunbelt Rentals 25-mile route, Simmonds notes that with her pharmaceutical background, it’s nice for her to see the great things that come from research. This, paired with meeting Gustavo Leone, Ph.D., director of Hollings Cancer Center, and others who conduct breast cancer research, has given her a special peace.

“I am in the best hands,” she tells the group.

LOWVELO’s recent ride and rally at Charles Towne Fermentory was a success on many levels. Around 30 riders gathered on the West Ashley Greenway for a golden hour ride before convening in Avondale for a celebratory gathering.

Team captains, including Cycle Chicks’ Stefanya D’Allesandro, shared fundraising ideas — think garage sales and cooking classes. Holy Spokes unveiled some incredibly generous LOWVELO partnership plans (more on that soon), and Leone and Tom Lennox — a cancer survivor himself, who also is a consultant for LOWVELO — spoke about his own journey.

Lennox’s phoenix-like rise from patient to survivor to purposeful leader set the pace for more inspiring stories, like that of Mary Nell Goolsby. In January, Goolsby underwent Whipple surgery to treat a rare cancer, yet will, only 10 months later, tackle the Jerry Zucker 100-mile route and is even leading the charge as captain of LOWVELO peloton, Whipple Warriors.

As for Simmonds, she’s confident. Surrounded by family and the support of MUSC and fellow riders, she can already see herself on the other side of the battle against breast cancer. “And I can, with [my family], help support survivors because I’m a survivor.”

Join LOWVELO at the next peloton ride and rally on Sat. Aug. 31. A group ride hosted by Charleston Cycle Chicks will begin at 9 a.m., followed by food, drink, and fun conversation at Commonhouse Aleworks. Guests can RSVP by emailing shannon@lowvelo.org.

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