Three years have passed since Bonnie Quam was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Now cancer-free, she’s determined to use her experience to help others.
Inspired by Darcy and Manjit Johal — who are matching all donations up to $1 million this month — Bonnie donated to the BC Cancer Foundation’s Beyond Belief Campaign, and is now sharing her story in gratitude of all donors who fuel BC Cancer’s life-saving work.
“When I was first diagnosed in December of 2019, I was overwhelmed and heartbroken but mainly just scared. During my three-week stay at Vancouver General Hospital, I began my relationship with BC Cancer. After my first consultation with my oncologist Dr. Diego Villa, I had a PET/CT scan and bone marrow biopsy (something I hope to never go through again), many blood tests, other biopsies, a port put in with a catheter to my heart and on and on …
Thanks to the ebullient, affirming, straight-talking and wonderful Dr. Villa — who told me with great certainty from the beginning that he would cure me — I quickly transitioned my thinking. I rethought my horrified mindset about the ‘Big C (cancer)’ and decided to look at it as just a disease.
As someone who always does my research, I decided to look into BC Cancer. A pharmacist friend had already told me they were recognized as being among the best research and treatment centres in the world. I slogged through papers written by BC Cancer experts and my own Dr. Villa and was amazed by BC Cancer’s reputation and status! I knew I was in good hands.
I went through six rounds of chemotherapy. During which I called BC Cancer’s emergency line several times as I navigated fevers and nausea.
I was always treated with respect and kindness. I never felt abandoned, unsupported or like a statistic.
Nor did my family. The BC Cancer nurses patiently taught my husband Parry how to administer the 26 injections to my stomach that were required to deliver an immune-boosting drug. I didn’t think this was something Parry would ever be able to do, but he quickly and confidently rose to the occasion, thanks to the support of BC Cancer staff — who had him practice by poking a needle into an orange.
After treatment, I became very frightened and felt like the ‘monster’ (cancer) was waiting to get me again. I sought help from supportive care services at BC Cancer through a psychologist and took the wonderful course, ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ — it was an amazing journey I shared with others who had all faced cancer.
When I had my last meeting with Dr. Villa this past April, and learned that my file would be closed, I initially felt very apprehensive. Dr. Villa told me that if — and he says it’s a very big ‘if’ — I ever have symptoms to contact him and he will help me again. This allowed me to say goodbye, trust that I will be okay and know that if I ever get sick again BC Cancer will be there for me.”