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As a breast cancer survivor, Erica Bonime ’80 wants to do what she can to aid the fight against the disease. That includes fundraising, which she had previously sworn never to do.

“I have never been a fundraiser before,” she says. “I have been on countless committees for Lafayette and other organizations, but I have always begged off the fundraising aspect and given my time instead. Even though I am in sales professionally I have a hard time asking people to donate things. But this situation is different.”

While receiving treatment, Bonime resolved to do everything she possibly could to help others dealing with breast cancer.

“My parents taught me that you cannot just be a taker in life,” she says. “You must give back.”

Bonime is doing that by talking about her battle in order to raise breast cancer awareness, and by taking a strong role in fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. Bonime has walked in the event for four years, raising an all-time personal high last year of $14,214.

The funds support American Cancer Society research, education, advocacy, and quality of life programs and services for breast cancer survivors and their families. Over $13 million were raised at various sites in New York and New Jersey this year.

Bonime also plasters posters wherever she can, talks to groups, and reminds people of the importance of self-exams one woman at a time. She also advises women who have been diagnosed, believing there is a strong need at that point to be able to talk to someone who has walked the same path.

“You have no clue what it is like until you go through it,” she says. “There are certain questions that I could not ask of just anyone. I want to be that person for others.”

Bonime feels a sense of community with other survivors, something she also values about Lafayette. She treasures her relationship with her former adviser, Professor Rebecca Schumacher. She has been a professional mentor as well as a friend for Bonime when she was sick.

“The networking of the alums is of immeasurable value,” adds Bonime. “I am successful in business because of the relationships I build with my customers. This is a skill and a value that I learned at Lafayette.”

Bonime is determined to be back wearing her pink survivor shirt at the Making Strides walk next year.

“I am determined to do all I can to help eradicate the disease so that others do not have to endure what I did. Every dollar we raise, and every step we walk brings us closer and closer to beating breast cancer,” she says. “We can beat this disease.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles