Kimberly Holt is a patient care resource manager (PCRM) at The James and is a member of the Team Buckeye superpeloton and rides with Team cCAP. Kimberly is a survivor of severe aplastic anemia, a non-cancerous blood disorder treated by hematology. She enjoys long walks on park trails, movies and spending time with family. This will be Kimberly’s second year riding in Pelotonia.
When did you first hear about Pelotonia?
When I arrived at The James in 2012, I immediately felt like Pelotonia was part of the culture. There were Pelotonia posters throughout the hospital. There were also photos of James physicians riding in Pelotonia hanging up in our Hematology office.
How did you get involved with Pelotonia, specifically with Team Buckeye?
In 2013, I volunteered at Pelotonia for the first time. My colleagues from the Hematology Clinic were volunteering and suggested I join them. Our group was assigned to ring cowbells to encourage riders as they left the Granville rest stop and continued their ride. The energy from seeing everyone on their bikes made me very excited!
After the first experience, I volunteered again with first aid. I was at the first aid tent at the 100 mile finish line when I saw a rider jump off his bike, take off his helmet, and yell, “Hey Kim, it’s me!”
I realized the rider was one of my patients who was currently receiving treatment. We embraced at the finish line. I could not believe he had just completed riding 100 miles. Seeing him participating in Pelotonia truly inspired me to ride.
Were you a cyclist before Pelotonia?
Not at all! I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 13 or 14 years old. I had to remember how to sit and balance on a bike. I also had to figure out what type of bike to ride, and I bought biking shorts for the first time.
How many years have you been riding in Pelotonia?
Last year was my first year riding! I rode the 25 mile route from Columbus to Pickerington.
How do you train?
I trained with a group of co-workers for both encouragement and safety. We trained in increments, starting off slowly with only two to four mile rides and eventually worked our way up to 25 miles. We also used the PULLL app to map how far we rode, and most importantly, to raise money for Pelotonia while riding!
For anyone training for the first time, remember to purchase a helmet and to bring plenty of fluids!
You have many names written on both the front and back of your Pelotonia jersey. Can you explain the significance? What inspired you to include all the names?
The names on my jersey are the reason I ride in Pelotonia. I ride for so many people who have battled cancer: my patients, my family and my friends.
Displaying their names on my jersey while I ride is my own way of honoring everyone who is currently fighting cancer and who has fought it in the past. I included a small colored gem next to their name that corresponded to the color of their diagnosis. I want them and their families to know I am acknowledging their fights and experiences.
I was inspired to include the names on my jersey because I once had a patient who asked, “Please remember me.” By including their names on my jersey, I am standing up for the stories of those who are no longer with us. Seeing their names on my jersey reminds me why we are riding and the importance of Pelotonia.
Can you tell us about being a Severe Aplastic Anemia survivor?
I was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia at 25 years old. I was working full-time and going to school for my master’s degree in social work. I realized something was wrong when I became winded by carrying some laundry up the stairs. I also noticed my body was covered with large bruises.
I went to my primary care provider and was hospitalized on the same day. Throughout the next year, I was in the hospital three or four times for several weeks at a time. When the traditional treatments didn’t work, I was hospitalized for a month to receive a bone marrow transplant.
My history with a bone marrow transplant and a splenectomy increases my risk for infection. For this reason, I am a patient at The James. Every few months, I see Dr. Sumi Vasu who checks my levels and gives me an immunoglobulin infusion to boost my immune system when needed.
Can you talk about how you were inspired to become an oncology nurse after receiving treatment for Severe Aplastic Anemia?
When I was diagnosed, I was cared for by hematologists and oncologists, and later by bone marrow transplant specialists. These providers and their multidisciplinary teams gave me so much hope. They encouraged me and my family at every visit and hospitalization. Through every hospitalization my nurses made it easy for me and my family to focus on the positive because they showed love and compassion, and constantly made me smile and laugh. Their actions inspired me to give back to other patients going through similar journeys. As soon as I was medically cleared to work in a hospital setting, I went back to school to become a nurse.
I was also inspired to become an oncology nurse after my own personal experience in the hospital. A week after I was diagnosed, my father passed away. At the time, they let me out of the hospital to go to his funeral and was readmitted the next day to continue treatment. Thinking back on this crazy time gives me such a passion for nursing. I realize patients are not only going through their own diagnosis and treatments, but also have lives going on outside the hospital that medical providers may not know about. As a nurse and a nurse case manager, I try to check in with my patients and ask how they are doing physically, as well as mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I aim to see the whole picture, and I offer care and support based off of what that picture looks like.
What does Pelotonia mean to you?
Pelotonia means hope for a cure. The green arrow reminds me there are people fighting and working toward a cure, and that we are closer to that goal with every ride. Pelotonia also means love.
I am so grateful to work at The James and see the benefits of Pelotonia. I work closely with medical teams who provide care for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and the newest way to treat this disease is with oral targeted therapies. Some of these medications were funded through Pelotonia dollars. I’m grateful to see patients doing so well with medications discovered through Pelotonia-funded research.
Do you have a memorable moment from riding or volunteering in Pelotonia?
For my ride, my most memorable moment was seeing a teenage girl who was on a recumbent bike. I noticed she was an amputee and was either going through or had just finished her treatment. Her whole family rode together wearing matching purple tutus. I was so inspired by her and her dedication to ride!
I also enjoyed making bead bracelets to help fundraise for my ride. A lot of people have shared stories about how these bracelets have touched them. The bracelets are in Ohio State and Pelotonia colors and say either “Hope”, “Fearless” or “Inspire”.
What advice can you give for first-time participants?
If you have a desire to ride, then sign up! The biggest step is getting started. After signing up, make sure to train. It never hurts to train even just a little bit.
On the day of the ride, don’t be afraid to go your own pace. We’re all there to support and encourage each other. Take your time and realize the purpose behind it. It is an experience you’ll remember forever.