A few weeks ago, Maggie McGinty rode in Pelotonia for the first time in honor of her friend, who is battling stage 4 kidney cancer.

Five days later, McGinty, a 40-year-old Dublin resident, learned she also had cancer.

McGinty had talked to her doctor about a lump she had noticed on her breast, but they decided to wait to look into it because the lump didn't feel like anything serious, she said.

As she trained for the annual central Ohio charity bicycle tour, which raises money for local cancer research at Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, McGinty knew she could be diagnosed with cancer, she said, but she figured the chance was slim.

After her diagnosis, the Pelotonia cause became even more personal.

McGinty, an athletics trainer for OhioHealth, was one of 8,470 riders this year, according to Pelotonia spokeswoman Emily Smith. A total of 3,009 (and counting) "virtual riders" -- people who raise money but don't ride -- also participated, she said.

The annual August event -- the 2018 Pelotonia weekend was Aug. 3 to 5 -- includes an opening ceremony and one- or two-day route options of varying mileage for which cyclists commit to raising corresponding amounts of money for cancer research at the James.

Thus far, Pelotonia has raised almost $16.7 million during the 2018 fundraising cycle, Smith said. The fundraising deadline is Oct. 5.

Since the first ride in 2009, Pelotonia has raised more than $173 million for the James, Smith said.

Although this year was the first McGinty participated as a rider, she had volunteered through her job as an Ohio State athletics trainer during Pelotonia's first three years.

So McGinty mostly knew what to expect when she and six of her friends decided to ride for their friend, Ann Hull, who was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer that metastasized to her lungs, McGinty said.

Still, though she is a veteran of three triathlons and trained in the months preceding Pelotonia, McGinty said, she was nervous about the 45-mile route her team had chosen to ride Aug. 4.

The day was hot, she said, and she found the ride physically and mentally challenging, as she was pedaling with the knowledge that Ann's cancer had no cure.

But, McGinty said, the experience was life-changing.

People held signs saying they owed their lives to the riders, and others offered food and beverages to them, she said. Near Pickerington, she said, "it felt like the whole town was out cheering us on."

After the ride, McGinty and her team members, who included Ann's husband, Jason, agreed they would ride again in Pelotonia next year, she said.

Days later, McGinty arrived at her doctor's appointment for a mammogram and ultrasound. Her experience in the medical field set her instantly on alert when she saw another person arrive with her doctor to share her test results.

"I just stared at him," she said.

McGinty didn't know if she felt sad, angry or depressed, but she cried for a long time, she said.

McGinty received a biopsy later to confirm her diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma grade 2, a curable, treatable cancer that accounts for 80 percent of breast cancers, she said.

An MRI also confirmed that her cancer was not present anywhere else in her body.

Next up for McGinty is genetic testing to see whether she carries an inherited mutation in a BRCA gene, which could make her susceptible to breast cancers, she said.

Some inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- genes that produce tumor-suppressor proteins -- increase women's risk of breast and ovarian cancers, according to cancer.gov.

The mutations also have been associated with increased risk of contracting other types of cancer, the website said. Those who have the gene mutations also tend to develop breast and ovarian cancers at younger ages than those who don't have the mutations.

If McGinty tests negative for the gene mutation, she said, she will receive a lumpectomy and radiation. If the testing shows she's a carrier of other cancers, she would get a double mastectomy, she said.

At first, McGinty found all the information about her diagnosis and treatment difficult to digest. Now, she said, she is taking it day by day.

"There's nothing I can do about it," she said.

However, Ann, who is on drug trials to prolong her life, is giving her perspective, McGinty said.

"I know now that there are people worse off," she said.

Her diagnosis has motivated her to try to raise more money next year when she rides in Pelotonia, McGinty said.

Although her cancer is curable, many are not, McGinty said. The reason she and others ride in Pelotonia, she said, is to support curable outcomes.

She wants others battling cancer to know "that no matter where you're getting treated, there's research being done to fight it."

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah