Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 15, 2012

Cancer survivor rides through ‘amazing, life-changing event’

VALDOSTA — Kim Rowell rode motorcycles throughout her life, but it wasn’t until her life was threatened by breast cancer that she bought her 1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster.

“I got it and just knew I am going to get well enough to ride this bike,” Rowell says.

Thoughts of riding her Harley kept her spirits buoyed. She continued riding it into remission and into her years of being cancer-free. Her Harley and breast cancer experience have made Rowell a familiar figure in South Georgia.

South Georgia Medical Center’s Pearlman Comprehensive Cancer Center featured Rowell in a series of television commercials and newspaper ads through the past couple of years, playing on TV again recently as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

She seems so forthright and sincere in these commercials that people approach her in stores and other public places to ask if she is the woman in the commercial. They ask about her motorcycle. They ask her about her experiences with breast cancer, and Rowell shares with them.

As she notes in the commercial, her breast cancer experience has been “like a great Harley ride. It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.”

She grew up Kim Busby, the daughter of Buck and Frances Busby. She attended Lowndes High School, graduating in 1980. She also attended Val-Tech, now Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, studying accounting and data processing. She has put those skills to work for many years at Johnson Distributing.

She met Dale Rowell. They married July 3, 1982. They spent several years together before having son Dakota, now a 15-year-old Lowndes High School student, like his mother, also a Georgia Bridgeman; he turns 16 next month. Kim describes her son as “the sparkle of my eye.”

Dakota was 7 years old in December 2003, when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

That same month, Kim Rowell felt a lump while performing a self-examination. She had a mammogram which led to a biopsy on Dec. 22, 2003. On Dec. 23, she received the breast cancer diagnosis.

On Dec. 26, she received her port. On Dec. 31, she was in the Pearlman Cancer Center, a far cry from how she and Dale had spent past New Year’s Eves. Her lymph nodes were removed. On Jan. 26, 2004, she started chemotherapy.

“I knew I would be all right,” Rowell says. “I just knew. I’m a pretty tough person, but I worried, how’s my family going to do with it? How’s my 7-year-old son going to deal with it?”

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