Sarcoma Story: Annette Bonaventura

Type of Sarcoma: Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors
Diagnosed: 2015

Annette BonaventuraAs 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 5 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. Her fine motor skills and ability to use her hand have been greatly affected.

As a survivor, Annette dedicates her life to giving back to others. She says, “I think you can use your good or bad experiences to help others.” Her mission is to raise awareness for sarcoma, increase education, and support others. Sound familiar? Those are the exact goals of The Rein in Sarcoma Foundation!

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.” The 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 have never 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 this Spring and has already raised $225, which she is donating to The Rein in Sarcoma Foundation! Her bracelets were sold at the Kick off meeting, and will be sold at the Party in the Park on July 24th!

For last year’s Party in the Park, Annette was one of the top sellers of raffle tickets! At $5 a piece, Annette sold about 300 tickets; That’s about $1,500!! Earlier this year, 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 in everything she does. Through the Patient & Family Support Committee, she has assisted in collecting items for sarcoma patients, and delivering the completed “Hope Totes” to Mayo Clinic, to be distributed to children, teens and adults who have been diagnosed with sarcoma cancer. In her free time, Annette also helps moderate a support group, “The Sarcoma Sunflower Brigade.” Through Facebook, Annette supports patients and their families, offers advice, insight and guidance. Most importantly, she listens. We are so inspired by Annette’s passion for helping others, and we are so happy to know her!