and how much there is, then help the patient with next
steps,” adds Bonaccio. “I’m so proud to be on Roswell’s
multidisciplinary team; surgeons, oncologists, and radiation
doctors work together.”
Her focus on early detection and screening finds her
engaging beyond Roswell’s patients. “Roswell’s expanded
Breast Cancer Care Center opened in May of 2016, and now
we’re able to offer community mammogram screenings.
Building that program is very important to me and the
hospital,” she says. Bonaccio and her team partner with
Esperanza y Vida and the Witness Project, education and
outreach programs designed to connect with Latin and
Taking care of herself is as important as taking care of
Bonaccio continues to be a “cup half full” kind of person.
others, says Bonaccio. With two sons recently out of the
house, she and her husband are officially empty-nesters;
her husband, Keith Frome, is a CEO and cofounder of the
Washington, DC-based nonprofit PeerForward. Through the
years, he has been supportive of her work, and, regarding
parenting duties, she notes, “Finding a work-life balance is
unique for each woman, each family. When you’re a working
mother, it can be chaotic at home. We made travel part of our
Everywhere she goes, from the sidelines of her kids’ soccer
games to her workplace, she educates and reminds women
to take care of themselves. “Women are often caretakers for
others,” she says. “There can also be confusion around the
guidelines for when to get screened.” Based on data analysis,
she feels strongly that women at average risk should start
annual screenings at forty.
“What I do every day—my work, taking care of patients—
makes me hopeful,” she says. “Family—seeing my two boys
grow into the next stages of their lives—makes me hopeful.
As a child, Ermelinda Bonaccio always knew she wanted
to be a doctor. She wasn’t sure how she knew, and neither
did her Italian-born parents, but it became clearer when her
affinity for math and sciences emerged and her love of being
with people became apparent.
A deep gratitude and awareness of her parents’ sacrifices
and challenges informs much of Bonaccio’s philosophy. “My
parents lived in Italy during World War II—neither of them
went beyond an eighth-grade education,” she says. “But
they were able to give me and my sister, as first-generation
Americans, so much.” All of Bonaccio’s degrees—BA, MA, and
MD—are from Harvard.
Bonaccio is now clinical chief of the Breast Imaging
Section in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s
Department of Diagnostic Radiology and clinical assistant
professor of radiology at UB Jacobs School of Medicine and
At first, she wanted to be a pediatrician, but found
that she preferred surgery and radiology. Then, through
happenstance, she ended up doing a breast imaging
internship, which is uncommon for young doctors.
“I was at Sloan Kettering for my fellowship,” explains
Bonaccio. “This specialty combines my interests in
interventions and technology with working with people.
Many people think of radiologists in a dark room, reading CT
scans and reporting to primary care doctors. But during this
Helping save lives is a huge factor in her ongoing passion.
“Mammography is the only test that data shows lowers
people’s risk of dying,” she says. “The breast cancer mortality
rate has decreased by thirty percent, in large part due to early
detection. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer now do
“When someone gets screened, it’s important to have
a breast imaging expert who can define if cancer is there
BY JANA EISENBERG