Pelotonia Offers Cancer Survivor Hope For the Future
Aaron Conley vividly remembers a young boy standing alone at the side of the road.
Conley was halfway through his Pelotonia bike ride as he approached the boy, who took out a sheet of white paper and a permanent marker. After writing “cancer” in large, thick letters, the child held the sign in the air and dramatically ripped it into pieces.
Three years ago, at age 27, Conley knew something was wrong when he noticed that his cycling times were becoming slower. He also began feeling tired and weak and had pain in his chest, so he decided to get a physical.
Expecting to hear that he had a heart problem, Conley instead learned he was severely anemic and he had less than half of the normal hemoglobin amount. The anemia was affecting his heart and vision.
After a colonoscopy revealed a large bleeding tumor that was responsible for much of his blood loss, Conley was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. A few days later, he underwent major surgery to remove the tumor followed by six months of intense chemotherapy that required a chest port to assist with locating veins.
Determined to return to a state of normalcy, Conley resumed cycling and decided to participate in Pelotonia while still receiving chemotherapy. Every cent raised by riders, virtual riders and donors in this annual event benefits cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). In August 2014, Conley rode his first 100 miles in Pelotonia.
In December 2015, he began working for Ohio State in foundation relations. This shift in employment has also brought about a shift in his care. While Conley’s journey as an OSUCCC – James patient is just beginning, he is comforted by the institution’s outstanding reputation.
“Pelotonia gives me hope for the future,” he says.
For more information on the impact of Pelotonia, the grassroots bicycle tour that benefits cancer research at the OSUCCC – James, visit pelotonia.org.
Read about Pelotonia-funded research at the OSUCCC – James here.
Watch footage from Aaron's Pelotonia ride here.