How did you learn about your lung cancer diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with lung cancer after developing a really persistent, sharp pain in my chest. My doctor at the time gave me just about every test but a CT scan and said everything was normal. I happened to see an ad in my local newspaper about full body scans and thought, “Well, why not?” I’ll never forget the radiation technician coming to me and saying “Bonnie, go straight to your physician and show him this scan.” After my biopsy results, my doctor gave me the news—I had a large tumor on my aorta, stage 3B, and it was too large to operate on.
How were you impacted by your lung cancer diagnosis?
It changed my life, of course. It also determined my path in this world. When I was sitting in the lounge chair getting my chemotherapy, I started doing research on lung cancer and found out the funding for lung cancer research is less than breast, colon and prostate all combined. I promised myself right there, in the chair, that I would do something to fight this injustice. So I started two foundations—one foundation is dedicated solely to lung cancer research, and the other to education, awareness and patient programs.
What have you done to maintain a sense of normalcy?
I love surrounding myself with other people in the lung cancer community. Though you may not find it "normal," my advocacy really grounds me now. Besides that, I love my family and spending time with people I care about. To educate and inspire is my new normal.