Woman loses husband, fights stage 4 cancer

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One might think that losing the love of her life and then discovering she had stage 4 cancer would be enough for Bonnie Reed to give up hope, but it wasn’t. She’s a survivor.

Reed said before her husband, Bob, passed away three years ago, she had begun losing weight with no explanation.

“But it made me happy,” she said. “Then, my stomach began to hurt. I had a round of tests, but they couldn’t find anything.”

She said she had her last decent meal on Dec. 17 of that year, which was her birthday.

Then her tests were postponed because her husband’s health was declining.

“Bob had a heart problem,” she said. “They didn’t expect him to live as long as he did, but he started failing. In fact, he died three years ago (Tuesday). I’ve finally reached a point where I can smile more.”

After Bob passed away, Reed said she still wasn’t feeling well.

“After Bob passed away, I took my test results to Edwin May, who goes to church with me, and is a hospice nurse,” she said. “He said I needed to get myself checked out. There was a suspicious spot around my lung.”

Reed said she found out she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a tumor in her arm.


Reed’s children researched the disease and found that UAB had a high reputation for successful lymphoma treatments.

“We went to UAB and were told it was stage 4,” she said. “I had believed it was cancer before I was told. In fact, I drove myself to Ohio to see my sister and get my affairs in order. When I came back home, I found out I was right.”

Still, Reed said she felt “at peace.”

“It was in God’s hands,” she said. “If I went, I’d be with my husband. If not, God wasn’t finished with me.

“When I started my cancer treatment, the bones in my arm shattered,” she said. “The tumor was also eating my rib cage. Six chemo treatments later, it was gone.”

Reed attributes her success to the Lord and her support system.

“I had great support,” she said. “My son came from California and my daughter from Florida to take me to a treatment. A good friend took me, too. The support from my church – First Presbyterian Church – was tremendous.”

Reed took her last treatment in 2008, just before Thanksgiving.

“Now, I’m going every six months for exams,” she said. “There’s always a chance it will come back.”

Reed said her daily prayer became “Thy will be done.”

“And the Lord must have something left for me to do,” she said. “Because I’m still here.”

Reed said if she could share a tip with local residents, it would be perseverance.

“The doctors kept telling me nothing was wrong,” she said. “I kept pushing for more tests because I knew something wasn’t right. They were just about ready to pat me on the head and say, ‘You’re stressed because your husband just died.’”

On Friday, Reed will join other Covington County cancer survivors in the annual survivor walk.

“It was very moving to walk,” she said. “Several people from church went with me. I feel it’s important for us to support things like this.”