South Surrey’s Serena Bonneville continues to share her inspiring story through her blog

South Surrey’s Serena Bonneville continues to share her inspiring story through her blog

Cancer survivor continues to stand tall

South Surrey teen awarded scholarship from Coast Capital Savings

When Serena Bonneville decided this year to live on-campus at the University of Victoria, she hoped the change in scenery would also provide a new beginning free of the disease that consumed most of the previous year.

In her popular blog, Breeding Optimism, which chronicles her journey with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the Southridge Secondary grad writes that the “monthly ferry rides home for treatment, binge eating and face puffiness from steroids, make it difficult to maintain ignorance of my past. I’m reminded that one can’t ever really move on from something as consuming as cancer, regardless of where they stand in or after treatment.”

Speaking to Peace Arch News on Oct. 10 – one year to the day she was first diagnosed – Bonneville explained that she didn’t post anything to her blog for two months in order to move on from that part of her life.

“I was getting into the university swing of things and it was a completely different chapter in my life.

“Especially after Grade 12, I was kind of hoping that I could leave that chapter behind and close it off and kind of start fresh in university,” she said.

While that fresh start has been interrupted each month when she travels home in order to get treatment, Bonneville said the experience has made her realize that the cancer diagnosis was not “just a part of my life, but just simply, a part of me.”

“As I accept this, I can better find ways to try and turn these reminders into positive things,” she writes in her blog.

And the business program student has done just that.

Earlier this month, Bonneville, 17, spoke to a group of donors at BC Children’s Hospital, sharing her story.

“I was asked to do a speech about my story, my life and what Children’s has done for me,” she said.

“I spoke to donors and met some pretty amazing people.”

Bonneville’s story has reached thousands of people through media coverage, and of course, her blog, which has had more than 70,000 views since its inception in October 2013.

Most recently, Bonneville’s story caught the attention of Coast Capital’s community leadership team after she submitted an essay for the 2014 Standing Tall Award, which offers $5,000 towards pursuing education goals.

“I wasn’t able to work over the past summer, which I was planning to do so I could use money for my education, so I wrote about that, and how it would help me,” Bonneville said.

The South Surrey teen was among 25 students to receive the Standing Tall Award.

In a news release from Coast Capital, Bonneville said that since her diagnosis, she “rejected the opinion that I could no longer do something because of the cancer, whether it was academics, sports or anything else.”

“Finding strength to persevere is tough, especially when given unjust circumstances, and I hope that the strength that I’ve found will inspire others to find their strength, resilience and optimism as well…”

The outpouring of community support that she has received was a huge boost during her recovery, Bonneville told PAN.

Both the Coast Capital award, and the earlier Community Leader Award that she received from PAN sister-paper, The Surrey Leader, came at a time when the treatments were particularly rough and her optimism had taken a beating.

“I received them at a time when I was in the midst of everything; a heavier phase in treatment. And it was good for my motivation and good for my mental health. I’ve received to so much support from the community, but to get recognized in a more public, official way during such an intense time was amazing,” Bonneville said.

Signing off in her last blog post, the avid writer and film buff said that she plans to “weave my diagnosis into my new life in Victoria.”

“Maybe (I’ll) infiltrate this new community with some fresh positivity, and as always, breed some optimism.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey’s Kevin McAlpin is hoping to reunite this 50-year-old wedding ring with its rightful owner. (Contributed photo)
Owner of 50-year-old wedding band found near Peace Arch Park sought

Recovered ring ‘is important to somebody,’ says finder

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council earmarks $1.8M in grants for community groups

Councillor Laurie Guerra says it’s ‘essential’ given damage done by pandemic

Screen shot from the SOS Children’s Village BC webpage for their “Big Hearts Open Doors” fundraising appeal. SOS is also currently running a Christmas gift-card drive to help at-risk youth this Christmas. (Image via
SOS Children’s Village BC launches annual Christmas gift-card drive

SOS collecting gift cards and donations for Surrey’s at-risk youth

Surrey protesters wearing their blue “bubble” suits. (Submitted photo)
OUR VIEW: Shut down strange Surrey protest

Unfortunate neighbourhood under siege for 12 weeks and counting

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read