BRG Survivor Series: Local woman uses her experience to comfort those battling breast cancer
BATON ROUGE - Allyson Bonner is a breast cancer survivor. In March of 2018, just weeks before her birthday, Allyson went to have an annual mammogram. She was soon diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer.
“I never miss a mammogram. And my doctors even went back to my previous mammogram to make sure they hadn’t missed anything, but it turned out that it was just a very aggressive form of cancer that just presented itself very quickly. I often think about the women who may have missed their screenings during COVID. Had that been my case, I think I would have had a different story,” Bonner said.
Allyson had difficulty accepting that diagnosis because it was such a surprise.
“It was hard, you know, I lost my hair. And my number one prayer when I got diagnosed with cancer is that I was going to be able to do it gracefully in front of my children. I learned that cancer was not much graceful about it. It’s messy, it’s ugly and it’s not a whole lot of fun,” she said.
Staying home in Baton Rouge helped Bonner feel safe and cared for by her friends and family while she was battling cancer.
“I think that was really good for me because I was able to stay in my community with my friends and my family and be in my children’s lives. We are a family of faith and we are a family with a lot of love so we just wrapped ourselves in that love. Our friends surrounded us with love. Our church surrounded us with love. We had meals delivered to our home and rides for the kids. We had so many people to support us," she said.
Allyson is thankful for the staff and resources that were available while she was being treated at the Baton Rouge General.
“I quickly found out that Baton Rouge has very well-trained doctors. They have well-trained surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and I met with some of the best. Another thing about the Baton Rouge General that was a unique service was they have a healing boutique in their gift shop, and it’s completely catered to women with breast cancer. You can find wigs there, head wraps, journals, prayers and nutrition books. It’s a really great resource for women in the community,” she said.
Now Allyson uses her experience as a survivor to comfort, care and support women that are going through similar battles with breast cancer.
“I participate in a ministry now with other women who are survivors and reach out to newly diagnosed women in our community, and we try to wrap them in the same kind of love and support that we were given," she said.
Bonner says though the diagnosis can be discouraging, she wants women with breast cancer to know that being hopeful will help them throughout their journey.
“There is an enormous amount of hope with this diagnosis and that just because you get this diagnosis doesn’t mean that you won’t come out on the other side. And one of the things I told my children when I got my specific diagnosis is I said, 'yes, Mommy has this disease, it’s awful. But that race they run every year, I’ll be a survivor running in that race next year, and so we were able to cling on to hope,'” she said.
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