Laura Bonney was eight weeks into her nursing career when she was diagnosed with blood cancer.
Laura’s path to a diagnosis started in August of 2017 when she couldn’t shake a particular symptom:
“I had just had itchy skin for months and months. I had been treated for skin infections; he treated me for scabies. He was like I don’t know what is going on, but you know your body.”
Her GP ran tests, but nothing caused the alarm bells to sound for her doctors until she went back in December with lumps in the front of her neck.
After running various tests, with nothing coming back abnormal – Laura’s doctor referred her to a surgeon in January for further biopsies.
“By the time I actually got an appointment with the surgeon, it was the end of February. It was two weeks from the time I saw him to when he diagnosed me with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
When asked about her diagnosis, Laura admits it was scary but chose to look at her cancer journey as a positive force in her life. She used the time to reflect and ask herself some difficult questions. The one that sticks out for her was the simple, yet challenging question;
“If this was my time, would I be happy?”
That is a sobering thought for most people – but it is the reality that cancer patients face every day.
Fortunately, Laura responded well to chemotherapy, is in remission, and completed treatment in September 2019.
When asked about Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC), Laura describes it as a “family”.
“The youth and young adults group has really brought together a group of people that I can chat to who have dealt with something similar. They might have a different diagnosis or might still be going through treatment but we’ve all been there. I still go to the youth events, and I think that really became my cancer community.”
Laura says that when her Support Services Coordinator, Rochelle Mills, mentioned the educational sessions that LBC offer, she jumped at the opportunity. She highlights one in particular that addressed the process of getting in contact with Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) to apply for a disability benefit.
“I was only working part-time, and I found it so difficult to navigate. LBC had this education session where they told me to speak to this person who is their liaison with WINZ, and that they would talk to me about what I was eligible for and what LBC could help me with. I was like, oh, amazing!”
It is support like this that is at the heart of what LBC do.
“You don’t know what’s around the corner. I think contributing to LBC is so important to me now because by doing that, you are helping build a community for people like me who felt so lost and so alone.”