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How the James and Pelotonia Changed This Volunteer’s Life

How the James and Pelotonia Changed This Volunteer’s Life

The finish line in Gambier has become an important meeting place for Nancy Wasen, as this Volunteer cheers on Riders and passes out hugs – and beer – to dear friends and people she meets for the first time.

Here comes 180-mile Rider Ted Teknos, a head and neck cancer doc at the James Cancer Hospital. Ted treated Nancy after she was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2010.

“He just gives off this aura that he cares,” Nancy said.

They hugged and posed for a photo.


Here comes 100-mile Rider Anna Maria Bittoni – a new clinical dietician at the James. Nancy and Anna Maria met a few years ago through Team Buckeye’s I Ride For You program. It pairs students and James patients.

“She’s such a warm and caring person and now she’s a part of my family,” Nancy said.

They hugged and posed for a photo.

“Knowing she’s at the finish line keeps me going through the harder parts of the ride,” Anna Maria said. “Nancy has changed my life.”

Cancer, the James, Ted, Anna Maria and Pelotonia have changed Nancy’s life.

“I feel my cancer has brought more good to my life than bad,” said Nancy, an Ashland, Ohio resident and self-described “tough cookie.” She underwent 35 radiation treatments and seven round of chemo.

In December of 2015 Nancy was declared cancer-free and is thankful to have been treated at the James.

“It’s so important to go where you can get the best care, even if it’s not close to your home,” she said.

Nancy saw her first Pelotonia in 2014, when she traveled to Gambier to watch Anna Maria finish her 100-mile ride. She brought a bottle of champagne for her new pal – and got to meet several more of the biking Bittonis.


“Her mom and dad and sister were all riding, they’re such a wonderful family,” Nancy said of Giorgio and Marisa, Christina and Anna Maria.

“I can’t imagine my life without Pelotonia,” Anna Maria said. “And now it’s come full circle: I get to see and work with patients every day receiving treatment that was funded through Pelotonia dollars.”

This year, Nancy was a first-time Volunteer and helped out at the beer truck in Gambier.

“Everyone who came for a beer was thanking us for volunteering and I’m thinking: You just rode 100 miles and you’re thanking us?” she said.

For Pelotonia 2017, Nancy intends “to do even more. I want to Volunteer the week before and help put the gift packages for the Riders together and be at the Opening Ceremonies.”

She’ll volunteer in Gambier again, as she’s become quite the expert beer pourer, and plans to be in New Albany on Sunday. “I want to see Ted finish,” Nancy said.

“She called anyone who went through adversity a tough cookie,” Nancy said. “When you hear those words, ‘You have cancer,’ you can go home and fold up or you can persevere.”

Nancy has persevered. And fought, armed with determination, a positive attitude and lots of love and support from her many friends.

“I think my mom would be proud of me,” she said.

Steve Wartenberg is a journalist, cyclist and longtime Pelotonia Rider. Steve is one of just a Steve Wartenberg Thumnailhandful who have pedalled every mile of every Pelotonia.  This year he is going above and beyond his fundraising efforts as a High Roller!





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  1. Nancy Wasen - September 13, 2016

    Thank you Steve for a great blog and for getting my story out there. I am proof that stage 4 cancer can be beat and life can be great. I love the James, Dr. Teknos and all the others who made my 7 weeks of treatment bearable. Life is good.

  2. Kathy Landes - September 15, 2016

    Steve, Thank you for sharing Nancy’s story! Her strength, spirit and perseverance inspires us all and is one of the very reasons that we all participate in Pelotonia! Sadly, there are so many stories out there and we are blessed to have The James to treat, research and be on the cutting edge! Research for treatment and ultimately “cures” are very costly and we must never loose the faith, the hope, the motivation to “keep peddling on” all for ONE GOAL!!!!

  3. Bud Abraham - September 16, 2016

    Great writers writing about great people make great stories. Keep up the excellent work Nancy and Steve.

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