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October 1, 2013

Survivor stories: Live to tell

Breast cancer survivor raises awareness

The color pink means different things to different people. It can be used to represent the arrival of a newborn girl or to describe a certain pop singer. It can also be used to raise awareness of breast cancer.

That’s what pink means to Cindy Bonnell. She wears pink every day in October as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A door leading in to her home and a mailbox in front of her house are also pink.

They are all representations of the breast cancer she has survived.

Bonnell found out she had breast cancer in May 2007. During a mammogram, she was told a spot needed to be evaluated. Feeling uneasy, she went for a second opinion. The spot in question turned out to be nothing, but another spot, originally undetected because of its depth, was found.

Bonnell had a biopsy and was then diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I cried when I found out,” Bonnell said.

After two surgeries, Bonnell had chemotherapy from June until October. She then had radiation until Dec. 31, her grandson’s first birthday.

Since Bonnell learned she had infiltrating ductal carcinoma and that it was triple negative, she has been meeting with an oncologist every three months.

Infiltrating ductal carcinoma begins in the milk duct and invades tissues of the breast and the cancer is triple-negative, meaning breast cancer cells tested negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2.

She visits a doctor every six months. But even though she’s in remission, she said it can be scary.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be completely comfortable,” Bonnell said. “You don’t go through a day without thinking about it. Even though you’re in remission, it can come back.”

Her three sons and grandchildren are what helped her get through it. Bonnell said it is hard to explain, but she never is alone because there are so many other women like her.

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