Imagine receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis at age 47. Now imagine calling that diagnosis "a gift." That's how Bonnie Dinneen Hedrick describes her diagnosis with stage 3 multifocal intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma in a recent profile in Rochester Magazine. "My life is the best it's ever been," she tells the magazine — and adds that she doesn't plan on leaving any time soon. "For me, 'terminal' is neutral, it's just a word," says the artist, wife and mother. "This isn't the end of the road for me. This is not the farewell tour."
She wasn't so sure of that when she received her diagnosis back in August 2015. Two weeks of concerning symptoms led her to visit her primary care provider, who ordered the tests that would eventually lead to her diagnosis. When she met with Piet de Groen, M.D., a gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, the initial news was not good. The cancer was advanced, the treatment options virtually nonexistent. Bonnie spent the next few days imagining her future as a series of lasts: the last birthday parties she would plan for her kids; the last Christmas they would celebrate as a family. "You can't imagine what goes through your mind," she tells us. Read the rest of Bonnie's story.