Beauty Beyond the Beast

$170 of $1,000 goal

Raised by 3 people in 3 months
Hi! Thank you for visiting my GoFundMe campaign page! This campaign is to raise funds to provide chemo comfort care kits and beauty and integrative care services for the women at my oncology center, who otherwise would not be able to afford it. 

These services are considered a luxury to most and often overlooked because of the financial burdens of being sick, the cost of cancer treatments, bills and other out of pockets expenses.

I can't tell you how much a day of self care does for the soul and the moral of woman, let alone a woman battling cancer. Cancer is invasive and debilitating, not just to our body but our mind, our soul, our self esteem and self worth. It's emasculating. Being pampered and taken care of, outside of the hospital, by someone that's not a doctor or nurse provides just a glimpse of happiness and lets us forget, for just a short moment, that we aren't sick.

My name is Bonnie and I would like to tell you my story and why this is such an important cause to me.

I was diagnosed with Stage III, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer on July 6, 2018. I found a lump in right breast through a self breast exam in March of 2018 and after a series of doctors' appointments, I was sent to the Women & Infants Women's Oncology and Breast Health Center in late June of 2018.

There, I met with one of the best oncology surgeons in the state! She's amazing and her name is Dr. Pandya! She's the most compassionate, caring, and skilled surgeons I've ever met. Dr. Pandya immediately set up a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy of the lump after our initial appointment, knowing that I was going crazy from the stress after finding the lump and having waited months to be seen by a specialist.

The test were all on the same day. The mammogram results showed a small tumor in my left breast and a tumor the size of a golf ball in my right breast. The ultrasound confirmed the mammogram results and further found some activity in the lymph nodes near my right breast. I ended up having to have three biopsies that day. One of each tumor and one of the sentinel node near the right breast.

The biopsy of the left breast was benign but both the tumor and the lymph node of the right breast proved to be cancerous... I was speechless! Everything the doctors said after that was white noise. Before I could process anything, there was a team of people lined up outside the exam room I was in, each with a different piece of information or resource to pass over to me. It was a whirlwind series of more test and constant doctors' appointment for the next 2 weeks to see if there wasn't anymore anywhere else and to make sure it hasn't spread.

The first thought in my head was "Am I going to die???" and then "OH MY GOD, I'M GOING TO LOSE MY HAIR?! and then an even bigger "OH MY GODDDDD.... WILL I LOSE MY BREAST!!!

I know, for a fact, that I was not and am not going to die! That this cancer is not going to kill me! But I was really concerned with how I was going to look. I know that may sound really superficial to those of you reading this and it is, but we as people associate a great deal of our identities by how we look. As women, our hair, our beauty and our breast are a significant part of who we are.  When faced with the challenges of losing our hair and our breast, we lose sight of the beauty we hold within.

Within a span of two weeks, I was told I was in Stage I to Stage II to Stage III when all of the final results came in. Another pea-size tumor was found hidden underneath the larger tumor in the right breast.

I went from, "Ok, I can handle this!" to "Oh shit!!! I could die from this!!!" All of the other superficial thoughts went out the window and now it was all about preserving my life! That inner warrior came out and she never left!

But let me tell you, I've cried more nights than I can remember and they were the ugliest cries! And as much as it pained me to get up everyday, I got up, when all I really wanted to do was curl up in bed, cry and feel sorry for myself.

I developed severe anxiety and depression which were never much of an issue before the diagnosis. I was self conscious and became really insecure with myself. I became distant and detached. I had to fight to keep myself whole.

Once it sunk in and I decided to go public with my diagnosis... I made a bold move and decided to share my story and my journey on social media. I made that choice, not for likes or sympathy or for anyone else's sake but my own. It allowed me to normalize my illness and own it as my reality, my new normal and I didn't need to hide it or be ashamed of it so I can live  through it! It was the first step in strengthening my foundation so the rest of the journey won't break me through chemo, surgery, and radiation treatments.

My treatments were 8 cycles of chemotherapy treatments, a double mastectomy, and radiation treatment everyday for 6 weeks.

I have yet to have the radiation treatments but I did just have my double mastectomy. I took it surprisingly well and recovering as I should. I dealt with the emotional repercussions of that in the weeks leading up to the surgery. It was a cake walk compared to chemo.

I'm typically a pretty chipper person so I always walked into the infusion center with a smile and my chemo kit! It helped that the nursing and oncology staff there are amazingly sweet and phenomenal at their job. Case in point, I had a severe allergic reaction to my very first chemo treatment, and before I knew it, they had me back and were able to still  manage giving me the rest of the treatment and keeping the reaction at bay.

The nursing and oncology team can only provide so many comforts, so I decided I wanted to help make this process as comfortable for others as I was making it for myself! I know for a fact, that just having something nice and comfortable with me can put me at ease, some of the time even put a smile on my face. It was the one thing I had control of in a situation that I had no control over.

I saw many sad, lonely and scared women in the same situation as myself. Some have that look of defeat and it breaks my heart. If nothing else, I would hope that these kits that I create for them will let them know that someone is thinking of them and that they are not alone! They're going through so much that they deserve some minor comforts and amenities to get them started through their cancer journey.

The chemo care kits will include a soft plushy throw, slipper socks, natural lotions (dry skin is a side effect of chemo), drymouth mouthwash (drymouth is side effect of chemo), hand sanitizer (chemo causes low immunity), a small notebook (to jot down notes, appointments, or any thoughts they may have), and any activity kit of some sort (a chemo patient spends a few hours or so getting treatment, it can create some boredom).

I also found it soothing to pamper myself on the days I felt the most down. It really lifted my spirits and let me forget that I was sick. Surely I'm not alone. It was already a struggle to pay bills and out of pocket expense through all of this but I realized that this was also a part of my treatment. Its the treatment they don't put in your treatment and that is self care. I needed it as much as I needed chemo. It was an escape from being the sick girl.

We get so caught up in the tundra that is our illness and we forget to truly take care of ourselves and our own happiness.... We make our own happiness! Cancer doesn't define us! There is beauty beyond the beast and every woman is blessed beyond their beauty!

I'm asking for your help in helping me help others achieve some happiness and enjoy some minor comforts in getting through their  journey! I hope my story offered you some insight. Please consider donating and sharing!

Thank you for taking the time to visit my page!

Warmest wishes,

Bonnie S.
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$170 of $1,000 goal

Raised by 3 people in 3 months
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