HOW CAN ONE PERSON SURVIVE SO MANY TRAGEDIES?

September of 1979, in retrospect, marks the beginning of the second of three 28 month periods in a seven year cycle that began in May of 1977. This interval appears to have been Bonnie's period of testing by physical hardship: becoming disabled, loss of career, enduring extreme pain, and confrontation with death (again). I discovered this cycle only after she died while doing research on the thousands of pieces of information about her life that she kept. She was an habitual packrat, and rarely threw out anything. She had had many prophetic visions and dreams that came true, and her precognitive ability allowed her to see many events that would shape her future. She told me that she could see events up through May 1984, just before her 34th birthday, but when she tried to look further into the future, a symbolic curtain on a stage suddenly closed (the holy veil was no longer rent). She thought that closing meant her time of death, and that mystery scared her. She saw herself becoming ill, which gave her the insight to work for an insurance company to earn medical benefits. Had she not believed her visions and listened to her intuition, she could have died much sooner. May of 1984 marked the end of the seven year cycle that began in May of 1977, and like clockwork every 28 months significant changes in her life occurred. The death she had seen in her vision did not occur because of a change in circumstances. Consistent with that vision, she began having severe angina attacks in May, and almost died from a heart attack in early June. But forewarned we were able to get her medical attention in time. In fact, an EKG was monitoring her in the hospital at the time the heart attack occurred! I entered her life in December, five months prior to the end of the seven year cycle, after accepting a request to help her from an unseen Entity on 23 March 1981, which I thought was God. A second seven year cycle began for us on 12 January of 1984, and ended exactly seven years later with her death. And every 28 months significant unplanned changes also occurred in our lives. Apparently the clock on Bonnie's seven year cycle was reset, and I was able to give her the love and support she had been denied most of her life. But now let's get back to the story so that the extraordinary facts can be unfolded in detail.

It may also be significant that Bonnie and her friend Frannie loved to go to the Ocean City boardwalk in their teens, and Frannie remarked in a note in Bonnie's high school yearbook that the area between 12th and 18th streets was particularly important. Bonnie was born on the 18th, she died on the 12th, and was buried on the 18th. We were also married on the 18th, an indication that Bonnie was at least unconsciously aware of the significance of those numbers in her life. Our seven year cycle began and ended on the 12th. My father and his father (my grandfather) lived at 328 Central Ave. in Ocean City, and three times 28 gives 84 months, or seven years. During summers I spent many days on the beach with my mother and brother at Ocean City - so many in fact that on two successive years we were captured in commercial photographs that appeared on two different postcards.  The area of beach we visited most often was between 18th and 21st streets.  However, by the time Bonnie began visiting that area in the mid to late 1960's, the Cornets had already stopped making Ocean City their vacation spot.  Our vacations switched to the family cottage at Highland Lake, Winsted, Connecticut.  Bonnie had spent her summers at the family cottage at Lower Saranac Lake in New York State, then switched to Ocean City when her grandparents sold the cottage.

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It may also be significant that Bonnie and Bill bought a house on 18 August 1977 at 238 Lincoln Ave. Two times 38 gives 76 months. Measured from the beginning of her seven year cycle, 76 months takes us to September of 1983, which marks the time when her legal problems with the State of New Jersey reached critical mass, the time her health took a sudden dive for the worse, ending in near death, and the month before she moved from New Jersey, never to return to that area where she had spent 26 years of her life. Thirty eight months prior to September 1983 her short term disability ran out, and she was forced to apply for additional welfare assistance. That month (July 1980) also marks the beginning of events that would lead to her legal problems. Some people will claim that I am giving too much significance to these numbers, and that other numbers could have equal significance. Others will say that numerology is the fiction of the mind, and the product of an over-active imagination. But what does stand out are numbers that seem to have repeated significance in her life, and repetition is the basis for recognizing patterns. Such patterns, if they truly exist, would imply at least some degree of outside control and/or pre-birth planning of her life, which is a concept very much in keeping with New Age spiritual philosophy, but which goes backwards through the discharge sphincter of mainstream science. It was through the recognition of these patterns that the cycles were recognized, and from these cycles the events of her life become meaningful. The meaning, however, is still poorly understood and controversial.

On 1 October 1979 Bonnie qualified for an AIG pension and full benefits. She had discovered suspicious lumps in both breasts, and sensed that something was very wrong with them. But she followed her intuition, and postponed having mammograms done until after qualifying for full medical benefits. She was admitted to Garden State Community Hospital under Dr. D. and Dr. Abramson on 2 October. On 3 October she had biopsies done, with a diagnosis of severe bilateral cystic mastitis. On 10 October she was again admitted to Garden State Community Hospital under Dr. Abramson (deceased 1987) for bilateral mastectomies. Silicone implants were added. During the same operation they performed a total abdominal hysterectomy and oophorectomy in order to correct her menstrual problems after tests indicated ovarian/uterine abnormalities. Bonnie recalled having what may have been a near-death experience on the operating table after she woke up from ineffective anesthesia to find her chest laid open. After surgery she was able to tell her surgeon what he said following her being re-anesthetized, and that impressed him enough to watch his language whenever he again operated on her. She said once she began to feel the excruciating pain in her chest, she went into an altered state, which may have allowed her to leave her body to avoid the pain. She also said he began playing classical music in the operating room in order to relax her and keep her anesthetized. She said it worked.

Bonnie made a rapid recovery, and was helping Jim teach the Adult Self-Hypnosis course by 15 October. She also began selling Aloe Charm cosmetics for added income. On 10 December, however, following a Christmas party at her house for the Aloe Charm staff, the suture beneath her left breast fell apart, exposing the subcutaneous implant and the development of a hemotoma. She was rehospitalized two days later for surgical repair. She continued to have problems with her breast implants slipping and the sutures opening, requiring additional surgical repairs. She said that her skin was unusually weak, and would fall apart around the sutures. By the end of January 1980 she was taking a number of therapeutic modalities, including lasix, lomotil, synthroid, tabron, slow-K, calcium, and vitamine supplements. On 10 march 1980 Dr. Abramson moved the left implant to underneath her pectoral or chest muscle so that it wouldn't slip, and so that her skin around the suture could completely heal. About three months later he moved the right implant beneath the muscle also. She jokingly said that she was the only woman who could do breast push-ups!

While she was recovering from surgical procedures, AIG had her do claim adjustments at home. But when she was not able to keep up with the work load, she was placed on disability. She received her first short term disability check on 4 March 1980, and continued to receive one every two weeks for the next 138 days. By then she hoped to be back on her feet in full recovery, back working with Jim and their patients, and back to her career aspirations in modeling.

On 6 May 1980 Bonnie brought to Dr. Abramson's attention an enlarged pigmented lesion on her left leg above the knee. Clinically it appeared malignant. She became concerned when a red spot turned into a lesion, and she began to lose sensation and motor function in that leg. She said that leg would suddenly go out from under her. On 14 May Bonnie was admitted to Garden State Community Hospital for a biopsy and a 24 hour pathology report. The initial diagnosis was malignant melanoma, superficial spreading type, level IV. Dr. Abramson was shocked, and wanted a second and more thorough analysis done at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. On 29 May the second analysis confirmed the diagnosis, and she was scheduled for immediate surgery on 2 June. Level IV is the highest level given before malignant melanoma becomes inoperable due to metastasis. She was also given a liver scan, chest scans, gall bladder echo and pancreas views, bone scan, and brain scan to determine the presence of any other abnormalities. Dr. Abramson told her the prognosis was not good, and that he wanted to remove her leg well above the knee. But she said she would have no reason to live if he did that, and wanted him to try to save it.  Below is a picture of her leg following surgery.

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Because of the long wait (15 days) between the two biopsy analyses, the cancer had grown and spread from a small superficial lesion to a massive internal tumor surrounding much of the muscle mass around her inside upper left leg and into the groin area. Dr. Abramson had his hands full trying to find and remove all indications of the malignancy. This resulted in her losing all muscles and tendons on the inside of her leg above the knee, as well as having most of her larger lymph nodes removed. She would be able to walk, but not without a cane or crutches. When she woke from surgery she said she was devastated by the amount of loss, and cried until she could cry no more. She said she couldn't cry at all after that for the longest time, and had the saddest of eyes. In a period of 234 days, or seven and a half months, she lost all her reproductive organs and part of one leg, and was left deeply scarred both physically and emotionally. Her modeling career had been turned to ashes. If the trauma of her childhood and first marriage wasn't enough, she was tested again to the maximum. Yet Bonnie was no ordinary individual. Her inner strength derived from surviving previous traumas, and her will to survive continued to emerge through a now frail and damaged body. The surgeon's scalpel had saved her life, but at what cost?

In the process of removing the cancer, Dr. Abramson dissected and preserved one of the main nerves to the leg from the surrounding muscle that was removed. He knew that if he cut that nerve, she would lose most of the sensation in that part of her leg. He felt that loss of sensation could result in undetected tumors if he did not remove all of the cancer. But by keeping the nerve intact underneath the skin that filled an enormous hole on the inside of her leg, she was forced to live with daily bouts of discomfort and mild pain, and occasional attacks of excruciating pain. She compared the worst pain to what she could imagine it would feel like having someone stick a knife in her leg and turn it again and again. She was placed on strong pain medication, which she ended up having to take for the remainder of her life.

Bonnie was well aware of the power of the mind over the body. She had learned to reduce or even eliminate pain through hypnosis. She was able to enter into an altered state on her own, and knew how to access the power of the unconscious mind to fight her diseases. Her partner, Jim Forberg, helped her control her pain through a post-hypnotic trigger, or word that would immediately put her into an altered state. That word was "flight". She chose it because of her love of the ocean crashing onto the beach with all the seagulls flying in the air. She envisioned this scene as extremely peaceful yet energizing, powerful yet gentle, and a symbol of freedom from whatever bothered her. In the early stages of her treatment for cancer, Bonnie was subjected to the horrors of chemotherapy. I remember her telling me about those first few injections, which resulted in her hair starting to come out in clumps when brushed and her skin sweating this awful gray residue. Since she had a very full head of hair, losing fifty percent of it had little effect on her appearance. In fact, she enjoyed not having so many tangles and problems brushing it. But the toxins put in her body to fight any remaining cancer were making her very sick. She got to the point that her body was screaming out, "Stop! Stop! Stop!" Her intuition once again told her that the chemotherapy was doing more harm than good. She did some research on the effects of this treatment on her particular type of cancer, and was alarmed to discover that in some cases it actually made the cancer grow and metastasize. The success rate for malignant melanoma was unsettling, so she told her doctors that she would no longer continue treatment. At first they objected, but she convinced them that unless they could detect any more tumors, the treatment was unnecessary.

Instead, Bonnie turned to positive visualization, a technique that was being tried by some progressive therapists and doctors to help their patients effectively reduce the size of tumors. She spent many months in daily meditation envisioning her immune system sending out warriors specifically armed to detect and destroy any remaining cancer cells. I don't remember her particular visualization technique, but it did involve her imagining agents, such as birds, picking at and removing any suspected cell abnormalities. She said she felt as though she were reversing the destruction of her body by defects born out of hate, contempt, and bias through decades of physical and emotional abuse from the people who supposedly loved her. Because of surgery and visualization therapy, all signs of cancer completely disappeared, and she was declared in full remission less than a year from her initial diagnosis. The cancers never came back. At one point the gurus of medicine gave her only three months to live. She beat the odds! After becoming involved in treatment, she credited her own judgements and decisions for the final outcome. She became an expert on her own body. She could quote chapter and verse from various medical books and the PDR. I later heard some of her doctors asking her for advice. She looked inside herself, and found the cure! Her numerous doctors marveled at her courage and determination to stay alive. She even briefly coached Debbra Winger in 1984 in Houston while she was filming Terms of Endearment. I saw Bonnie go into a cosmetic store along Westheimer Rd., and Debbra Winger come out about 60 minutes later.   I asked Bonnie why she was in the store for so long, and she said, "Did you recognize the person that came out before me?"  Debbra saw Bonnie with her cane and asked her about her injury, fully expecting to hear Bonnie say that she had injured her leg while riding a horse.  When Debbra learned of Bonnie's ordeal with cancer, she began asking her many questions, which gave her the depth and perspective she needed to play the part in the movie.

Many more examples of success with visualization have been documented since. It is clear from so many similar examples that the causes of her low self-esteem and self-confidence may have been responsible for her cancers. When I told this story to a friend, she offered an explanation: Bonnie was a healer, who took onto herself other people's illnesses, but then could not divest herself of those diseases. On one occasion, Bonnie said, Jim Forberg had to take a physical exam to qualify for a new job in the military. He was in his fifties, and health meant everything at that age. The day before the exam Jim had the flu and a very high fever. She said that through an altered state she took on the symptoms of his cold so that he could pass his exam, which he did. Jim confirmed that his cold suddenly disappeared the night before the exam, and that Bonnie was sick the day of the exam with his symptoms!

During her recovery at home that summer (1981) she did not have air conditioning. The temperature became unbearable. GeorgeAnn, who had taught her how to model, invited her and Chuckie (Billy was living with his father at that time) to stay at her apartment at Ocean Colony in Ocean City, NJ, which was air-conditioned. GeorgeAnn and Jim Forberg were the only two people who consistently helped her through her crisis. During all her operations, her husband rarely gave her the emotional and financial support she needed, would not take over the care of both children, let their mortgage foreclose on their house, and did not provide dependable support for her or her children when she needed help the most. As Bonnie put it, she was left to take care of the woman's responsibilities, regardless of the circumstances. If it weren't for her partner in hypnotherapy, Jim Forberg, who cared for her when a home nurse was not available, and carried her to the bathroom when she was totally disabled from surgery, she didn't think she would have made it. Even her parents would not give her the help she needed. Her mother kept refusing to believe that she was severely ill. May was a hypochondriac, and thought her daughter was just faking it for sympathy and attention.

In August-September 1983 Bonnie's health began to decline rapidly. Her business partner, who had been by her side through all her operations, had moved to Florida, and her husband would not help her. At first she was afraid of asking her parents for help because of her mother. Then, after repeated phone calls, her mother, thinking that she was on drugs, came to her house, confiscated her medications, and took her to the hospital for a drug screen, ignoring all evidence that her medical problems were valid. The drug screen proved negative, of course, but without her medications and no money to buy replacements her condition deteriorated even faster. In desperation she called her estranged husband for help; he now lived in Texas. Thinking that she was going to die, he agreed to bring her and his son down to Pasadena to live. Bill flew north to get them, and they returned on 15 October 1983. Bonnie requested immediate medical help, but Bill refused to take her to the hospital, saying that he had spent all his money on plane fares and couldn't afford the additional expense. The second day she was in Texas (17 October) she tried to use the phone to get an ambulance, but Bill took the phone away. She was barely able to hobble out of his apartment on her cane. Crossing Richey Street in Pasadena to get to a pay phone, her heart stopped and she collapsed in the middle of the street. A policeman driving down the street saw her fall, and rushed to her aid, but not before a car hit her legs! He picked her up and rushed her to the hospital in 95-degree Texas heat, staying with her all night at the hospital. Between the time she fell and the time the doctors jump-started her heart was a period of more than 20 minutes. But Bonnie had been through this before. She later reported that she had the most extraordinary near-death experience. Following that scrape with death she had a miraculously rapid recovery in health, and her psychic abilities increased ten fold.

When she got out of the hospital, her husband took her to Galveston on weekends. Pictures of her from then taken at NASA show just how thin she was. The picture below shows her sitting in front of a lunar module.

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She was very weak and had to be helped or carried everywhere. Bill liked to go to Galveston on the weekends. On the first trip with him they stopped at Sandy Hoof Stables on West Beach. 

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She made instant friends among the cowboys who frequented those stables.. When Bill wouldn't take her during the week, her new friends came to get her in Pasadena. They helped bring her fighting spirit back with encouragement and support, but most importantly with love. They helped restore her health by providing food and beer - lots of beer, which became a liquid diet for her. Previously she rarely drank beer, but she liked to impress her new friends by showing them how much she could drink without getting drunk. She had hypoglycemia, which allowed her liver to metabolize alcohol as though it was sugar. She said she didn't know what it was like to be drunk, because she couldn't get drunk. She recalled one drinking contest with straight shots of whiskey that she won at Billy Bob's dance hall.

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New Years Eve celebration with her Galveston friends.

Bonnie loved to test a man's ego in an arm wrestling contest. Because she had very well developed upper musculature from years of gymnastics in high school (she could do the Iron Cross on the rings) and from having to compensate for her disabled leg by pulling herself to her feet, she was deceptively strong. She said that she had some male characteristics in her muscular build, and that was apparent from her slim hips and strong muscular constitution. But no one usually noticed that constitution because of her obvious female attributes. After she regained most of her strength from her brush with death, she liked to challenge men to arm wrestling. They would take the bait with a cocky grin on their faces, she said. That grin usually turned to chagrin and amazement after Bonnie took all of them down. Of course, she had the advantage of surprise and false expectation, but I wish I could have been there to see their faces. She won a contest with me.

Moma and Chuckie, who ran the stables, along with the cowboys who frequented the stables, adopted her in spite of her Yankee husband. They realized that she was someone very special. She recalled many great times with that group of black, white, and Mexican-American cowboys, who included her when they went dancing and drinking and/or riding. She owes a lot to them for her miraculous recovery. She recalled to me bragging sessions at the stables, where the cowboys would show off their scars and boast to their girlfriends of their bravery riding bulls and broncos. When they learned of Bonnie's ordeals and saw some of her scars, they cried. No one could imagine himself or herself brave enough to earn her badges of courage. Those badges won her additional respect and admiration.

Because she spoke fluent Spanish, she won instant acceptance from the Mexican-American cowboys, particularly Jimmie (affectionately called Mexican), Jose, and Steve (affectionately called Stevo). There was also Frank, Tom, and Shine; Jennifer, Julie, and Kathy. Once when they went dancing at Billy Bob's, a stranger approached Bonnie and asked her to dance. She said, "No," but he persisted. He was over-weight and had been drinking too much. She told him she was handicapped, but he didn't believe it, because he had seen her frequently on the dance floor. He became more obnoxious when Bonnie spurned his advances. She had trouble enough standing on the dance floor with one bad leg, but she was afraid of dancing with someone who did not understand her handicap and physical limitations. Stevo came rushing to her rescue and told the cowboy that he was her husband and to get lost. The guy didn't believe it and started to argue with them, because he had seen Stevo dancing closely with Kathy. Bonnie told him that Stevo was her husband. Jimmy saw the commotion and came running over. Without knowing what had been said, he told the stranger that he also was her husband. The cowboy looked stunned. When Stevo and Jimmy realized that both of them had claimed to be her husband, they steadfastly asserted that they both were married to Bonnie. Bonnie calmly said, "Yes, that is true. I couldn't decide on which one to marry, so I married both of them." The stranger walked away with a puzzled look on his face.

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In a letter written to Jim Forberg in Florida and dated 2 February 1984 (about two weeks after she moved in with me), she wrote: "Like I said my love it's been a long rough haul but I think I've finally rejoined the living and like all things with me I've been doing it to the max. I'm just sorry you weren't here to see it you of all people would really be able to appreciate it and I think get quite a kick out of it. My Cowboy and Cowgirl (which I really became one myself, the only thing that goes on these feet are boots or I go barefoot even in the stud pens at the stables and I ride bareback with bare feet which really impresses these people I'll tell you) friends even told Bruce to look out because they've never seen anyone with a larger craving for living than me and they've never seen anyone dance all night every single dance before like I do. I mean every one when the band takes breaks I keep right on going to the jukebox, honey I mean like 8 hours non-stop after chasing horses and riding all day you see these people work real hard but they also play equally as hard and they're used to it and I not only keep up but I'm the chief instigator and it's to the point they have trouble keeping up with me from riding studs to dancing to drinking without getting loaded, enough to kill a horse and I don't know how I'm doing it." Bonnie frequently wrote in a flow of consciousness, with one sentence merging into the next when she was excited and happy. I did not correct her punctuation or add punctuation, because I want you to feel the flow of her thoughts, which accurately depict her state of mind.

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"In fact I've even been asked to go on a trail ride and that's a real honor these people don't ask just anybody to go and most of my friends are seriously into rodeo and I'm going to do it and my next project is to learn to ride a bull and I talked them into teaching me. Don't worry they are very, very protective of me and are very well aware of my physical condition and there have been limitations put on this deal, they won't let me near a live bull or steer because it's just too dangerous because of lack of control but a mechanical bull they can completely control and I'm not allowed to ride it alone believe me these are real good people, if they see me start to get in any pain or problems with my leg I'm literally picked up and removed from whatever situation I'm in and made to rest and honey you don't argue with these guys. You won't believe the third degree they gave Bruce just like you they want to make damn sure he doesn't hurt me in any way and takes real good care of Chuckie and me.

"Oh by the way Chuckie rides now too and he's the only one of these rodeos who can and does ride a wild donkey, yes he does they tried and got thrown even though they're much bigger. That was funny watching these big rodeo champs get thrown quite literally by an ass. But not Chuckie and boy has he changed, these guys whipped his ass right into quite a little Cowboy as well as my ass right into quite a Cowgirl and I love it. I'm having the time of my life."

"...When it's not too cold about 20 of us sleep in hay stacks at the stables or when it's colder I'm the only one that's made to go to one of their houses to sleep on a sofa or the floor and we have fun a couple of the guys write music and play guitars and they are really good, so we all sit around and drink and sing and eat and dance and nobody gets real drunk or nasty it's just not allowed in this group and we all take our kids everywhere with us. You see down here it's really country and family oriented and even the clubs or honkey tonks are family oriented so you can bring your kids including Giley's (which we don't really like because it's too big and all) so we take our kids dancing on Saturday night too and they enjoy it. As you can probably gather I've fallen in love with Texas and the people I've become friends with and the country lifestyle. I've finally come home and am very happy here. It's a much simpler way of life that I've always wanted and found here.

"By the way I'm having all kinds of dreams fulfilled here right down to riding a horse on the beach right alongside the Gulf of Mexico it's becoming a regular event like every weekend all of my friends own horses and included in this group are the people who own the stable and 30 beautiful horses, to riding in a covered wagon and on horseback on a trail ride thru Galveston. I've done it."

During her period of recovery she wrote a poem, which I found in her handbag after she died:

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Copyright Bruce Cornet 1999