Sarcoma Story: Annette Bonaventura

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Type of Sarcoma: Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor
Date of Diagnosis: 2015
Location: leg, arm

As a pediatric medical assistant, sarcoma survivor, mentor, advocate, and RIS volunteer, Annette is the definition of inspiring. Her journey has not been an easy one. After two years of severe leg pain and multiple misdiagnoses, Annette was diagnosed with MPNST in 2015.

She endured five weeks of radiation, a tumor resection surgery, and had part of her sciatic nerve removed. The surgery was difficult and she was forced to adapt to many changes. She required a large brace on her leg, which meant she was no longer comfortable wearing skinny jeans and skirts. She also had to learn to drive with her left leg! Only a year later, the cancer returned in the dominant arm. This recurrence has been extremely challenging as her median nerve had to be completely removed, greatly affecting her fine motor skills and ability to use her hand.

Annette volunteers on the Red Flags Committee, Patient & Family Support Committee, and also helps with Party in the Park. “Giving back is one of the most important things anyone can do. It can be very rewarding knowing that you helped someone else. No matter how big or how small it could greatly impact someone’s life. I wouldn’t be where I’m at or who I’m today without the help others.  I’m very grateful for them.”

Rein in Sarcoma has been a great support system for Annette, and has helped her remain hopeful and optimistic. “So many great things and friendships would never have happened if it weren’t for others giving their time and effort. Without RIS, I would have felt so alone. To me, RIS represents the courage to keep going. Together we are stronger.”

To regain strength of her hand, Annette began creating bracelets. They are beautiful and filled with love. Being the amazing, kind, selfless, thoughtful and strong woman that she is, Annette had a brilliant idea. Each bracelet would have one yellow bead – for sarcoma. When people see someone wearing the bracelet and notice the single yellow bead, it presents an opportunity to share about sarcoma cancer. Annette began selling her bracelets Spring 2017, donating the proceeds to RIS! Look for her bracelets at RIS events.

As a co-chair for the 2016 Party in the Park raffle, Annette sold about 300 tickets; That’s about $1,500! For her 50th birthday, she asked for donations to Rein in Sarcoma and other foundations that have supported her, in lieu of presents. She called it “50 bucks cause cancer SUCKS.” Her efforts were very successful and inspiring.

In addition to her fundraising efforts, Annette contributes by sharing her ideas and passion as a member of the Patient & Family Support Committee and regularly volunteering in the RIS office. Annette also helps moderate a Facebook support group, “The Sarcoma Sunflower Brigade.” Annette’s passion for helping others is an inspiration.

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