Former Executive Employs Skills To Fight Lung Cancer
SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle Online) reports on lung cancer survivor Bonnie J. Addario and her inspiration to start an organization, The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, to make strides in the fight against lung cancer. Addario received the Jefferson Award for her work.
Bonnie J. Addario broke barriers by becoming one of the country's top female oil company executives. Now, she is parlaying her professional prowess into running one of the country's largest lung-cancer foundations
Twenty-two years ago, with just a high school education, Addario started out as a secretary and administrative assistant at Olympian Oil Company in South San Francisco. She eventually rose to the ranks of president and owner.
"I started at the company when they were really small, so everything that happened there came across my desk," said Addario, 60. "I was just like a little sponge and just kind of soaked it all up. As the company grew, they kept giving me more and more responsibility, and one day I was running it."
Addario served as president of Olympian Oil for seven years. But her life changed when she felt a shooting pain across her chest. Accompanied by her husband of 25 years, Tony Addario, she went in for a full-body scan and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004. Addario, who smoked for more than 20 years, retired from Olympian Oil to focus on her recovery. Her treatment included chemotherapy, radiation and the removal of a tumor and portion of her lung.
David Jablons was one of the four doctors who performed Addario's surgery at UCSF. Because Addario asked so many questions while she was under his care, Jablons asked Addario to become a member of his thoracic advisory board.
"I was just outraged about the lung cancer statistics, about the fact that 450 people a day die just in the United States," Addario said. "Nineteen people die per hour and 1.3 million die every year. I couldn't believe all these things were happening and that (lung cancer research) was underfunded, under-researched and diagnosed, more often than not, too late. Most people who have lung cancer are diagnosed at stage four, and they don't live longer than three or four months."