Holly Benson

Research made a difference to Holly and her family

Holly Benson
Thanks to good research, thanks to funding for research, I’m here and enjoying my life.

In 2012, Holly Benson was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was in her mid-50s, a professional woman who, with her husband, was on the cusp of retirement. “I was shocked beyond belief. I thought, how could I have lung cancer? I’m a non-smoker, I’m active, I eat healthy – cancer doesn’t happen to people like me.”

She had 33 days of radiation and chemotherapy and was given a clean bill of health. “But that spectre is always hovering when you have cancer.”

Only a few months later, Holly suddenly lost vision in her right eye. Tests showed the cancer had spread to her brain, spine and liver. This was Mother’s Day weekend, and she was given 3 to 4 months to live.  Holly and her husband moved house. She updated her will and made her funeral plans, down to the choice of music.

“One day my oncologist said, ‘There’s a new drug and you’re eligible. It’s not a panacea, it’s not a cure, but it’s going to extend your life and your quality of life.’”  Holly underwent full brain radiation and started taking the drug Iressa in July 2013. “Three months later, the tumours that had spread to my spine and liver had diminished and the 14 tumours in my brain were gone.

“Thanks to good drugs, thanks to good research, thanks to funding for research, I’m here and enjoying my life. I’ve had more time to hug my kids, to plan what’s left of my life.”

Throughout her journey, Holly turned to the Canadian Cancer Society. She gathered information on her particular cancer and treatments and where to go if she wanted to just talk to somebody. She describes the Society’s web site and pamphlets as her security blankets. But it’s the research the Society funds that really fires her up.

“Research is going to help us find cures, treat cancer better, prevent cancer and extend the lives of people with cancer,” she says. “The research being done today is so promising. But researchers can’t do their work if they’re not funded.”

So Holly proudly supports and promotes the work of the Canadian Cancer Society any opportunity she gets. And she invites all Canadians to do the same.

“There are a lot of people like me. When you donate to the Society you’re helping fund the most promising research for all cancers, for all Canadians in all communities.”

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