After surviving a bout with thyroid cancer, oncologist Doreen Agnese pedals to support the James
Photo by Tessa Berg
Soon after doctors found a lump in her neck, papillary thyroid cancer put surgical oncologist Doreen Agnese on the other side of the operating table and transformed her office into her treatment center. “As weird as it was, I knew, ‘I’m in good hands,’ ” says Agnese, associate professor of clinical surgery at Ohio State University’s Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital. Like many other survivors, she’ll thank the James by riding 50 miles during Pelotonia, which returns Aug. 8 to 11. pelotonia.org
I was diagnosed in 2009. My thyroid was removed in January 2010. I’m lucky. Thyroid cancer is associated with a very good prognosis. There was a lot of guilt associated with feeling upset, because what I was dealing with didn’t seem as bad as what some of my patients were dealing with.
It was very weird going into surgery where I operate. You’re not in control—and, as a surgeon, you’re used to being in control. You’re rolling in on a stretcher in a gown, not walking in. Everybody you know is there. Dr. William Farrar did my surgery. He’s my boss. Within a couple weeks of my surgery, I was operating in the room where I had my surgery. It’s like, “I’m having flashbacks.”
My diagnosis certainly pushed me to do Pelotonia. August 2010 was the first year. I signed up for 25 miles. I was very good at training then, because I hadn’t been on a bike since probably high school. I hope people can see me and see I’m not an athlete—but with training, I can do it. I think anybody can.
The first time was very emotional. For the last mile, I can’t say that I was crying, because I think I was dehydrated, so I don’t think I could form tears. I was, like, sobbing across the finish line. There’s all kinds of survivors and people supporting you along the way and ringing their cowbells.