Bonnie Green is a Douglas County resident and breast cancer survivor. But dealing with breast cancer was only the beginning of serious health challenges for her.

Despite having a mammogram in November of 2013, it was a self-exam in 2014 that revealed a problem and led to her treatment. The good news was that her chemo procedures had been effective. But the bad news was that going through chemo had damaged her heart.

About two months after the chemo she began to feel increasingly tired and she discovered her heart had been weakened and began to be treated for heart problems.

There were ups and downs throughout the treatments and at one point she improved and thought she was in the clear, but her doctor confided that it wouldn’t last.

Eventually Green learned she would need to have a heart transplant.

It took some time to accept the diagnosis, she said, and for a while she fought it.

“It was something that was hard to hear and I kept believing that I was going to get better,” Green said.

But ultimately she acquiesced and after reaching the status of “cancer free” she had her heart surgery in December of 2019.

Her surgery was successful and she acclimated to the new heart without complications, she said.

As a cancer patient, Green found support with fellow breast cancer survivor Brenda Grissom, who runs the local nonprofit Gertrude’s House. Grissom was contacted by phone for comment on Bonnie’s ordeal.

“She is a warrior for sure. And her faith is what got her through,” she said. “Bonnie is a huge supporter of Gertrude House and she gives back to breast cancer survivors.”

“I’m grateful for my church family and friends, including my breast cancer support group, Gertrude’s House. They prayed for me, watched over me, and consoled my family,” Green said.

And Green said she couldn’t have done it without the support of her family.

“I would not have a story to tell without God’s grace and mercy that has kept me through my faith. I’m so blessed to have a wonderful and loving family that supported me emotionally, physically, mentally and financially with no reservation, just pure love.”

Grissom had faced her own challenges. This year marks her 27-year anniversary for breast cancer and her 10-year for ovarian cancer.

“I started the foundation to help those struggling through the treatment. We meet every third Thursday in Lithia Springs and our motto is: We just want to be your battle buddy,” Grissom said.

Grissom strongly advocates doing a monthly self-exam along with the mammograms and regular doctor visits.

And, to raise funds for Gertrude House, Grissom said there will be a golf tournament event that’s coming up on Oct. 10 at Mirror Lake.

Green’s shout-out to doctors sounds like an Academy Awards speech, but why not? Making a hit film is one thing, saving lives is not about make believe—it’s the real deal.

“My undying gratitude to Dr. Kristy McDonald the oncologist that treated my breast cancer at Northside Cancer Treatment Center,” Green said. “And my cardiologist, Dr. Michael Hardee, MD, who cared enough to refer me when he could no longer help me. Dr Brian Howard MD, Medical Director of the advanced heart failure/LVAD program at WellStar Kennestone Hospital, kept me alive to get me to heart transplant, he is a phenomenal doctor. Thanks to him and his team for making it possible for me to live to tell my story.”

“I’m so grateful to Emory University Hospital Heart Transplant Team, my surgeon Dr. Mani A. Daneshmand, MD. Truly my heart belongs to all of you, living my best life!”

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also called National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is in October, and was started in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries. The initial purpose of the month was to promote mammograms as the first line of defense against breast cancer.