SUN CITY, Ariz. – For Jane Bonner, Banner Boswell is home.
In 2009, Bonner developed five tumors, three in one breast, and two in the other. She underwent a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer. During recovery, however, she had multiple surgeries to deal with a compound fracture. The last one was in 2014.
The next step would be to say “bye, bye hospital,” but not for Bonner.
Since her operations, Bonner has volunteered for Banner Boswell in Sun City for more than two-and-a-half years, during which she has logged more than 2,500 hours of service.
"I was treated so well, and the volunteers just went that extra mile. The rest of the staff does to but the volunteers were really special in the morning," Bonner said. "I asked them 'Can anybody volunteer,' and they said yes. And I said, 'When I get back on my feet I'm going to come back and volunteer.' The day I got my final papers I went to the volunteer office and I've been volunteering ever since."
During the week, Bonner works as a secretary in the volunteer resource office, checks incoming surgery patients in the waiting room and informs their families on up-to-date information. She also helps out at events, like the West Valley Seniors Expo at the Palmbrooks Country Club during National Volunteer Week, promoting radio mammography with Gina Sheets of Banner Lakes Imaging Center.
That last task hits home for Bonner. Her grandmothers, mother and sister developed breast cancer. One of her friends was diagnosed at 82. When she developed the five tumors prior to her double mastectomy, she said she was done and couldn't fight anymore.
But she did.
"It was like rolling the dice. Eventually my turn was going to come," Bonner said. "I've just been a little more proactive on it."
She stressed the need for people who think they may not need a mammogram to get one.
"Unless you have died, you need to have a mammogram," she said.
On the weekends, she usually trains teenagers on the nursing floor and emergency department.
Tammy Gabel, a public relations specialist at Banner, said Bonner does an exceptional job with the volunteers.
The Banner Health system itself reveled in its volunteer numbers last year. In 2015, Banner Boswell had 805 volunteers contributing 110,183 hours of service. Banner Del E. Webb in Sun City West had 885 people totaling 143,754. Company-wide, 7,411 volunteers worked 953,874 hours.
Bonner has developed strong relationships with the volunteers, Sheets and Banner staff. Her daughter lives in northern California and her son in Maryland.
“All of the volunteers are like my second family," Bonner said. "We take care of each other. The last time I had to have a procedure one of the other volunteers drove me to it."
Vicki Gerber, senior manager of the volunteer resources department, said Bonner exhibits the characteristics the hospital wants to see in its staff and volunteers: positive, warm, outgoing and inviting.
“She is very enthused about helping Banner Boswell and Del Webb,” Gerber said. “Jane is one of those volunteers that is always there, ready to pitch in and is versatile and flexible.”
Gerber said volunteering at a hospital is a great way for people in other professions to keep their skills fresh and learn about the medical field. The same applies to high school and college students.
“We have some people who start out as student volunteers, graduate high school and college, and later come back to volunteer or work for us,” she said.
Bonner has put in her fair share of work at Banner, and she won't stop contributing until she says she no longer can.
"Being able to put a smile on one person's face a day makes your heart feel good," she said. "I started off volunteering four hours a week, because that's what they asked of me. I asked them, 'Am I restricted to four hours a week?' And now I'm there five days during the week. And I love every minute of it. I've been so happy at Banner that I haven't gone any place else."