Brittany Vonau will have 100 miles of road ahead of her when she begins the Pelotonia charity bicycle tour Aug. 5, but she said she should have more than an equal number of supporters behind her with every revolution of her pedals.
Vonau, a registered nurse who works in the emergency room of the oncology department of Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital, said she won't have to look far for inspiration on the grueling journey as she attempts a 100-mile ride for the first time.
"I'll be riding for my patients (and) I have family members who have had cancer, too," said Vonau, 29.
That doesn't include her personal experience.
Cancer was not something she often thought about until the day a routine physical exam for her volleyball team at Hartley High School redefined it.
The physical exam when she was 15 years old revealed nodules in her thyroid, she said.
A biopsy deemed them benign, but physicians still wanted to remove the nodules.
During the surgery, an on-the-spot lab test indicated the nodules were cancerous, Vonau said.
After surgery, some cancerous cells remained, requiring Vonau to undergo an iodine-based radiation treatment.
Within a year of the surgery for thyroid cancer, she was declared cancer-free and remains so today.
Vonau said the experience was instrumental in leading her into a career in oncology.
"I always wanted to work in the medicine field (but) working in oncology is a marriage of the two things I love most about medicine," she said.
Vonau said she did not ride competitively, or even regularly, before her first Pelotonia in 2015.
She said she rode 50 miles two years ago, but passed on last year's event because she was pregnant with her second son.
"I'm conditioning my riding with my husband and my kids," said Vonau, whose sons, Barrett and Jackson, sometimes join her on a ride via a hitch on her bicycle. "(My sons) and my husband (Chris) are my No. 1 supporters."
Vonau, an east Columbus resident who lives in the Gahanna-Jefferson school district, said she is well on her way to meeting her goal of raising $2,000.
She is a member of the Team Buckeye-OSU Emergency Medicine peloton.