So many people have supported me on this journey and I wish I could thank each and every one of you individually. Truth be told, there are simply too many of you…our world is full of kind and generous people. But I do want to acknowledge one very special person, a woman who has not only given me invaluable advice and support, but who also knows first-hand exactly what I am going through.
Bonnie Addario is a 7-year survivor of Stage IIIB Lung Cancer. Like me, she underwent chemo, radiation, and surgery, and attributes her cancer-free status to the state-of-the-art care she received. Upon recovery, this former oil company executive put her retirement plans aside to dedicate her life to changing the mortality rate of lung cancer. Her goal is to make survival the norm and not the exception.
In 2006, Bonnie founded the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) and it is now one of the largest philanthropies devoted exclusively to eradicating lung cancer. With Bonnie at the helm, the Foundation is made up of a diverse group of physicians, industry partners, and survivors and their families. Together they have raised more than $9 million for lung cancer research, education, and treatment.
Bonnie chairs the Foundation, is matriarch of a large Bay Area family, and still finds time to send me texts and emails and beautiful messages that champion my progress. Before we ever met face-to-face, she enveloped me into her fold, and has been effusive and unrelenting with her encouragement and love all along the way. When I receive good news, I cannot wait to call her. When I am not sure of my next step, I know she will offer guidance.
Bonnie says: “Empowered patients live longer. Our message is simple – We want to live.” I am presently focused on the demands of my daily radiation treatments, but, in less than one week, I will return home to California and begin working to rebuild my immune system and to regain my strength. Then it is my intent to put my renewed energy into helping Bonnie do for others what she has done for me.
I love you, Bonnie . . . EmBen