Fighting Cancer in Their Careers and by Cycling Coast to Coast
For BMS employees Shruthi Kumar and Manuel “Manny” Almario, Jr., as well as 126 other BMS employees around the U.S., taking part in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer (C2C4C) Ride is so much more than a 3000-mile charity bike ride in support of the V Foundation. The ride even transcends the emotional connection BMS employees have to their work. For Shruthi and Manny in particular, this ride provides a visceral and authentic way of honoring their most beloved—Shruthi’s mother and Manny’s wife and father, lost to the disease that they strive to help eliminate daily through their careers at BMS.
Shruthi is a Senior Manager in Worldwide Training Design and Development, Oncology, working out of BMS’s Princeton Pike, NJ campus. What does her role involve and how does it help address cancer? Shruthi explained, “Within the WW Training and Design Team I’m the Senior Manager for Oncology, so I develop foundational training content for reps in the U.S. and global markets.”
As a Senior Territory Business Manager, Oncology in Seattle, Manny knows from experience the importance of that training material. “To be an oncology rep on the front lines, talking to nurses and doctors, you have to master the science and the field,” he said.
A Passion and an Inspiration
There’s a certain word that Manny brings up often when talking about his role. “You must
be passionate about it,” he said. “I’ve worked with different disease states and that’s helped me be a better oncology rep. But it’s a different conversation when you’re talking about cancers and impacts. It’s very personal for me.”
Manny speaks honestly of why his work mission is personal along with why he’s riding the C2C4C. “My inspiration is to ride for all cancer patients, and especially to honor my wife, who passed away this past spring,” he said. “While my wife will not be there to greet me at the finish line, her positive attitude, ongoing encouragement and love for life will be with me throughout the ride. This ride for cancer research gives me hope that there will be treatments for all patients in the future.”
Challenging Losses at Young Ages
Shruthi experienced the loss of her mother at a young age. “I wanted to ride for my mom, as well as all cancer patients,” she said. “My mother was the most influential person in my life, and I lost her when I was 14,” she added. “It was one of the hardest things I—or any child—can go through. A lot of patients today have a fighting chance. She never had that technology 14 years ago. She’s my inspiration. The wind beneath my wings. I ride to give those patients a fighting chance.”
Anyone who has faced the journey of a cancer patient caregiver knows it can be excruciating. Often the public-facing life and work of the caregiver continue, so balance and support are critical. “I can’t say enough about the support I received from BMS,” said Manny. “Everyone from my manager to vice presidents to my coworkers—the support was phenomenal.” Manny added that BMS even changed his sales territory, which previously included air travel to Alaska, to a territory close to home with minimal travel.
Journeys that Shape Us in So Many Ways
While Shruthi’s loss occurred many years before she arrived at BMS, she shared how that journey helped guide her toward a career in oncology and shaped the person she is today. “I became a leader of sorts. I’m resilient and I have a fighting spirit,” she said, adding, “I like being the underdog. I had COVID back in June, and it took me a month and a half to get back to myself.” With consecutive 75-mile days on the bike, long hours of training are necessary. "Our group was assigned a coach and they formulated a training regimen for each of us that we accessed through a training app," said Shruthi. "And we were able to do some group rides together too, which helped."
Cancer caregivers often cite a feeling of helplessness. In Manny’s case, the extensive training and the ride itself were positive ways of working for the cause. “I know a lot about cancer, and I still felt helpless,” he said, explaining that “training and the ride is the one thing I did the best I can. I can’t help my wife right now, but hopefully the money we raise will help others.”
How the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Ride Works
If you’re curious how the ride works and how to donate, the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Ride consists of teams of BMS riders, where each team rides three days and covers approximately 225 miles in those three days. They then pass the imaginary baton to the next team. The ride began on September 7 in Cannon Beach, OR, and ended on October 3 in Long Branch, NJ. Manny’s leg was Sept 10–12 from Bend, OR to Boise, ID. Shruthi rode the final leg from Pittsburgh, PA to Long Branch, NJ.
Close to Our Goal: How to Donate
Since 2014, the ride has raised more than $9.83 million for cancer research with more than 760 Bristol Myers Squibb employees taking part in this epic cycling event. BMS’s commitment and the commitment of its colleagues is deeply rooted in its patient-centric culture and goes beyond day-to-day responsibilities. Hundreds of employees volunteer their time to support, train, fundraise and participate in this epic ride, where miles make more memories for cancer patients and their loved ones. BMS has pledged to match funds raised up to $500,000.
Sales Professionals are Needed
If you are inspired and intrigued by Manny’s role as an Oncology Field Representative, or by similar positions in sales, and you feel that passion and desire to learn and educate doctors, explore a number of open sales roles here.
Shruthi’s team is made up of individuals with varied backgrounds who all come together to create the best learning content for oncology reps like Manny. Should the desire to create content and methodologies pique your interest, learn about careers and open roles here.
Like all positions at BMS, this is interesting and meaningful work that transforms patients’ lives, as well as the lives of those who do that work.
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