My name is Krista Bonner, and I’m 46 years old. Nearly two years ago, on November 20th 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was detected on a routine mammogram (luckily, I’ve gone every year since I was 36 years old). When it was discovered, they asked me to come back for another mammogram – but I just assumed it was nothing. A day or two later, I had an appointment with my surgeon and she told me that it was breast cancer. They gave me my options, which included having a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and I chose to have a lumpectomy. I also did the genetics test where they check to see if you have the gene; thankfully I was negative for that. I had my lumpectomy in December 2014, and I started treatment in January of 2016. When I was told I needed to do chemotherapy treatment, I was surprised. But because of the results of the many tests I had been given, that was the recommendation. In all honesty, I was really scared.
I lost my mother in 2007 to lung cancer. It was very sudden. My mother was young – she was only 60 years old. She didn’t go to the doctor; she felt like she could handle the pain she was feeling. I think she kind of knew. By the time she went to the hospital, it was basically too late. It was spring break, I remember – I’m a guidance counselor – and we were in the emergency room with my mother. We had to wait for an oncologist because my mother didn’t have one. But when we met with the oncologist, we learned that the cancer was progressed to the point where chemotherapy would probably kill her, so it wasn’t even an option. I’ll never forget the oncologist who spoke with us. I didn’t know her name, but her face always stayed in mind because she was so compassionate. She didn’t know my mother, she didn’t know us, but so she was so kind to us. My mother passed away in April of 2007.
In my mind, a cancer diagnosis meant you were going to pass away, so after I was told that I would need to undergo chemotherapy treatment I was anxious to do whatever I needed to do. That’s when I came to Augusta Oncology. At my first appointment, when my oncologist walked into the room, I immediately felt a feeling of, I’m going to be okay. I couldn’t believe it! It was Dr. Alice David, the same oncologist who had spoken to us when my mother passed. I suddenly felt at ease, because I knew I was in good hands.
Dr. David recommended four rounds of chemo, which isn’t easy, but it’s not the worst. I was concerned about losing my long hair, and as expected, two weeks after my first treatment my hair began falling out. I made up my mind that I wasn’t just going to wait for it to all come out. I needed to have control over something that was happening to me! So one Friday after a shower, my husband and I shaved my head together. I figured my students at school wouldn’t be too shocked if I had a whole weekend to get myself together. I bought scarves – I probably own one of every color in the rainbow – and learned many different ways to tie them.
After the 4 rounds of chemo, I did the radiation therapy for 8 weeks, Monday through Friday, but it wasn’t bad. And when that was done, that was it. That was the last of the treatmentAfter all of my treatment was complete, I saw Dr. David once a month. Then every 3 months, and now every 6 months. . And I’m delighted to report that I haven’t had any issues since. Cancer-free!
My experience here at Augusta Oncology has been great. Dr. David has been great, the staff is wonderful. When I was going through my chemo, the nurses were fabulous to me – I just love them! Anytime anyone tells me they have to come to Augusta Oncology, I reassure them by telling them that they’re in good hands. I know they’re going to have the best experience possible in a bad situation.
My mother used to always tell me, there’s a lesson in everything, no matter how bad it is. And I feel like that’s true. Through this experience, I learned what’s important… and that’s family, and being good to other people, and treating people they way you want to be treated. When you’re in a situation where you’re so vulnerable to others, you tend to pay more attention to how people treat you. You never know what other people are going through. This journey wasn’t easy, but I think it’s made me who I am. And I’m grateful for that.