Colleagues rally to help family of Holy Cross Health doctor fighting stage 4 cancer

Dr. Bonnie Yen with her husband Scott, 8-year-old son Xander, 6-year-old daughter Riley and dog Chewie (Chewbacca).

Dr. Bonnie Yen.

Dr. Bonnie Yen and her husband, Scott, on their wedding.


Colleagues of a Holy Cross Health doctor who has just received an unexpected diagnosis of stage 4 cancer are rallying to help her and her family with a GoFundMe page.

Dr. Bonnie Yen, 39, is an emergency room physician at Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has a squamous cell type of cancer that has spread throughout her body to various organs.

“The biggest challenge we have right now is finding the source, which means where the cancer has started, and getting more information about the type of cancer to better tailor her treatments and understand the diagnosis and the prognosis and the next step,” said friend Dr. Kavita Jackson, an emergency medicine physician with Holy Cross Health.

Yen got the diagnosis last week and is beginning chemotherapy. She stopped working to focus on treatment, and also to spend as much time as she can with loved ones.

“With the stage 4, we know it’s generally not a survivable condition, and before we had the biopsy results based on how it looks, she had been given about six months. That’s the prognosis we have right now in the best-case scenario,” Jackson said.

A co-worker who calls Yen his “big sis” describes her as fun, outgoing, spontaneous and a driven hard worker.

“People just want to help out Bonnie as much as they can because of what she’s done for the community — just from what she’s done in the emergency department also during the pandemic. She was like a guiding light among the ER community and also our Holy Cross Hospital,” said DeAngelo Price, an emergency medicine clinical pharmacy specialist at Holy Cross Hospital.

By late Tuesday afternoon, 872 donors had raised $110,506.

Price said he finds it heartening to see people stepping up for Yen during these times, which have included the pandemic, divisive politics and financial instability.

“It just felt good seeing that people who really care about Bonnie come through in her time of need and when she needs it the most because she would do the exact same thing for us,” Price said.

“For Bonnie, her biggest concern right now, it’s not even herself and getting through her medical treatments. It’s her husband, Scott, it’s (son) Xander, it’s (daughter) Riley and (pet) Chewie, and how they’re going to go on and maintain their lives when she’s gone,” Jackson said.

Price has been actively campaigning to raise awareness of Yen’s situation to drum up support.

“Whatever people can do — it could be donations; it can be prayers; and it can be whatever they can do to help out. We would truly appreciate it because she does so much for us in this community. And, I feel like we have to do the same for her,” he said.

Donations will go toward any sort of procedures, such as chemotherapy, doctor’s appointments, transportation to and from her appointments, and procedures in support of Yen’s medical care, as well as her family.

“Her biggest concern as the primary income earner of her household is being able to support her husband and her two young kids as they go further. Not only in their personal lives, but their social lives, their education and just having support for the family when she anticipates that she will no longer be around,” Jackson said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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