Bonnie Felker says a prayer of thanksgiving every day for her friend who recommended that she participate in a free health screening offered by the Florida Department of Health in Brevard. Bonnie only agreed to the screening to satisfy her friend. What she didn’t expect was that her friend did her a favor, she saved her life.
Bonnie, who worked mostly in the restaurant industry throughout her professional career, was a healthy person or so she thought. She wasn’t experiencing any unusual symptoms and overall felt good. But in early 2011, a friend was persistent that she should take advantage of a mammogram and Pap smear screening offered by the health department. She decided to participate just so she could tell her friend, “I did it.”
Bonnie did participate and her Pap smear results came back questionable. Because of those results, the department of health arranged for Bonnie to receive care through the Brevard Health Alliance (BHA), a federally qualified health center that provides affordable primary care to the underserved.
Within in a week of learning from the health department that her test results were questionable, Bonnie saw BHA physician, Dr. Stacey King, MD. After visiting with the doctor and undergoing some additional diagnostic tests, Bonnie got the news. She had uterine cancer.
Dr. King and the BHA team went into action to save Bonnie, by not only arranging for medical care, but also with Medicaid and disability applications. BHA recruited the help of Dr. John Bomalaski, MD, and his medical team who specialize in gynecologic oncology.
In August, Dr. Bomalaski performed a successful surgery on Bonnie to remove the uterus. Recovery from surgery took several weeks, and then she began six months of treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and then chemotherapy again. After a year of surgery, treatments and recovery, she was finally cancer free.
Bonnie now gets regular check-ups and says she is fine and feels great, which leaves her more time to enjoy her five grandchildren, volunteering at Daily Bread, reading historical romance novels and her Chihuahua Carson.
Of her scare with cancer, Bonnie said that the hardest part was she did not understand what was happening to her and her body. “It was helpful to talk, and I met some very nice, helpful and understanding people,” she said. To the nurses, nurse practitioners, phlebotomist, doctors and office staff she says, “Thank you.”
Note: The Space Coast Health Foundation is proud to financially support the care delivered to Brevard County residents by the Brevard Health Alliance.