By Jenna Yingling ’21
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. As such, it is important to remember those who have lost their lives to breast cancer and recognize those who are currently battling or have survived this adverse disease. Bonnie Lawrence, a loving mother and grandmother, is an example of a courageous breast cancer survivor.
Lawrence was officially diagnosed with breast cancer March 3, 1999. A biopsy was ordered. The lump in Lawrence’s left breast was removed and declared malignant. She opted for a left breast mastectomy that took place on March 11, 1999.
Lawrence believed that her treatment process was finished after the mastectomy took place.
“However,” Lawrence corrected, “my doctor wanted me to go down to the Fox Chase Cancer Hospital in Philadelphia for an opinion as to whether I should have chemotherapy.”
The medical professionals recommended that Lawrence have a course of chemo to ensure that there were no other malignancies throughout her body.
Lawrence’s chemotherapy treatments began in Williamsport Hospital in May 1999. One of the most challenging experiences for Lawrence during her treatment was chemotherapy and the loss of her hair. She had four treatments in total and lost her hair in the second week of her first treatment.
“I was in the shower washing my hair, and my hair just kept coming out,” Lawrence explained. “I had purchased a wig earlier, so I got dressed, put on my wig, and went to work.”
After chemotherapy, Lawrence was put on Tamoxifen for five years. Fortunately, her tumor was lobular (contained), so it is less likely to occur again.
“You can never be totally assured; five years is the first big mark to clear, ” Lawrence specified.
Lawrence is no longer concerned about a recurrence for it has been many years since her breast cancer scare. She continues to have annual mammograms and colonoscopies scheduled every five years.
“These are tests that aren’t something I look forward to but bring me peace of mind when cleared of any concerns,” said Lawrence.
Breast cancer is a traumatic disease that can be challenging to cope with; however, Lawrence was constantly enveloped in the love and support of her family, friends, and coworkers.
“I had a wonderful support system. My husband Dave took an early retirement and was able to be with me and get me to my appointments,” remembered Lawrence.
Lawrence continues to live her life to the fullest. She is very involved with her church and community. Lawrence is grateful that she gets to continue with her life and the activities she loves, for she knows that not all breast cancer victims have the same opportunity.