Any Teachers here?

LC815
LC815 Member Posts: 155
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I am Stage IV and am starting my chemo on Friday. The last time I went through this, I taught little kids who didn't know a wig from a pig. Now, I am teaching high school students. I don't know what to tell them about the wig, my time off from school, etc. My administration is being WONDERFUL and supportive, but they're leaving this to me. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Peace,
Linda from Baltimore

Comments

  • CypressCynthia
    CypressCynthia Member Posts: 4,014 Member
    I am not a teacher, but I
    I am not a teacher, but I would think it might be a good idea to share some information about your condition with your students. It would give them a chance to be supportive and they probably have figured something is going on. Why not be honest?
  • lynn1950
    lynn1950 Member Posts: 2,570
    I am K-12 in my district.
    I am K-12 in my district. At the time of my chemo, I was working most closely with middle school kids. I answered their questions and told them that what would help me most was getting jokes and riddles from them. The kids were terrific sending me funny cards and emails. xoxoxo Lynn
  • CypressCynthia
    CypressCynthia Member Posts: 4,014 Member
    lynn1950 said:

    I am K-12 in my district.
    I am K-12 in my district. At the time of my chemo, I was working most closely with middle school kids. I answered their questions and told them that what would help me most was getting jokes and riddles from them. The kids were terrific sending me funny cards and emails. xoxoxo Lynn

    I love that you gave them
    I love that you gave them something to do. I bet that you have some great cards and emails. That would help me get through it. My daughter's 1st grade teacher had her students send me Get Well cards that they made themselves. One featured a lady lying down holding a lily (looked very dead). I still get it out 23 yrs later because it was so funny to me. Maybe I have a sick sense of humor but I found it hysterical.
  • kathyDDD
    kathyDDD Member Posts: 34
    I am a teacher
    Hi Linda,

    I too am a teacher of 27 years. I teach high school and college students. I started my breast cancer treatment last February after having a biopsy and a lumpectomy. I was totally honest with my students right from the start. I needed them to know because I never miss school. I needed them to know that I would look different and may act different. My administration, faculty, and students were absolutely wonderful. My kids got to pick out which of my wigs I would wear. My high school calculus class even secretly sent me two different ones. My high school also raised $5000 for Susan G. Komen in honor of me. I ended up having a bilateral mastectomy in July and started school this year, leaving during my planning periods for 38 radiation treatments. The entire school celebrated my last radiation day on Oct. 20. They are now behind me again because some of the cancer cells have gone into my back bones. I have started chemo again and this is probably the last week with my own hair. Again, I have been honest with my kids and they have let me know that they are there for me. I can only tell you that the support you receive helps as much as the medicine. Let the kids help you through this and, God forbid, if any of them face this in the future, they will use you as their shining example of Grace Under Fire and know that it is doable and nothing to be asahmed of. I wish you nothing but success as you start your journey. If there is anything else I can possible help with, please let me know. I go back for treatment #2 this Thursday. Keep your chin up and let your kids share your journey.

    Kathy
  • CypressCynthia
    CypressCynthia Member Posts: 4,014 Member
    kathyDDD said:

    I am a teacher
    Hi Linda,

    I too am a teacher of 27 years. I teach high school and college students. I started my breast cancer treatment last February after having a biopsy and a lumpectomy. I was totally honest with my students right from the start. I needed them to know because I never miss school. I needed them to know that I would look different and may act different. My administration, faculty, and students were absolutely wonderful. My kids got to pick out which of my wigs I would wear. My high school calculus class even secretly sent me two different ones. My high school also raised $5000 for Susan G. Komen in honor of me. I ended up having a bilateral mastectomy in July and started school this year, leaving during my planning periods for 38 radiation treatments. The entire school celebrated my last radiation day on Oct. 20. They are now behind me again because some of the cancer cells have gone into my back bones. I have started chemo again and this is probably the last week with my own hair. Again, I have been honest with my kids and they have let me know that they are there for me. I can only tell you that the support you receive helps as much as the medicine. Let the kids help you through this and, God forbid, if any of them face this in the future, they will use you as their shining example of Grace Under Fire and know that it is doable and nothing to be asahmed of. I wish you nothing but success as you start your journey. If there is anything else I can possible help with, please let me know. I go back for treatment #2 this Thursday. Keep your chin up and let your kids share your journey.

    Kathy

    You are awesome and I can
    You are awesome and I can see why you are so loved. Thank you so much for sharing.
  • mickeymom
    mickeymom Member Posts: 117
    Little kids are alot like big kids
    I work in an elementary school, mainly with 1st to 4th grades. My principal told me to handle it however I felt was best and that became answering whatever question they asked - at their level. I had surgery just before the end of school last year and when I came back I answered honestly. The younger ones wanted to know if I was sick, the older ones were too smart to believe that you miss school for a couple weeks for and asked about operations,etc. When school started this fall I had been through most of my chemo and I wear scarves everyday. (I never could get used to a wig.) I had many students ask questions. Some know I had a sickness that required really harsh medicine and my hair fell out. They ask me all the time how much has grown back and if they can see it. Older students have had family members with cancer and they recognize the look. I've had several (4th & 5th graders) ask me if I have cancer and I tell them I do. It opens up an opportunity to show them that sickness can be overcome and that sometimes you just have to deal with the cards you get and make the best of things. It give them an opportunity to tell you about their family member who has cancer and I have had some amazing conversations.

    I think high school students will notice and are old enough to understand. Many will have shared experiences from family members and they can probably be a big support for you. During my treatment my teenage daughter has had a teacher at her school in treatment at the same time. Her teacher was very honest with all her students and had three different wigs she wore that were very different looks (one was even green - one of the school colors!) I think high school students love to be supportive in situation where they see they can help. My daughers school sounded a lot like Kathy DDD's school. They wore bracelets and t-shirts and had a celebration when she finished chemo. The janitor (a women with very long hair) even allowed the students to donate money to cut off a lock of her hair (which went to locks of love) and then she shaved her head! If you're up for it, they'll want to help you all the way!

    I hope it all goes well for you. You're in my prayers.
  • rene9
    rene9 Member Posts: 214
    Sped Teacher
    Hi, I'm a Sped teacher for K-5 students and I had surgery 3 weeks ago. I doubt if I go into detail when I go back. Sick is sick to my group and they are very helpful when they feel or see something is different or wrong. The kids have sent me cards and they are wonderful! I didn't even go in detail with all of my co-workers. Although, if anyone has questions I will tell them what is going on. Then, they think I wear a wig sometime anyway. My administration is supportive with my care but she can say some crazy stuff at times, so I limit a lot of conversation. I actually feel pretty good and when I go back to work I'm ready for all questions, but I'm not the one to volunteer information ...

    rene9
  • Mama G
    Mama G Member Posts: 762
    rene9 said:

    Sped Teacher
    Hi, I'm a Sped teacher for K-5 students and I had surgery 3 weeks ago. I doubt if I go into detail when I go back. Sick is sick to my group and they are very helpful when they feel or see something is different or wrong. The kids have sent me cards and they are wonderful! I didn't even go in detail with all of my co-workers. Although, if anyone has questions I will tell them what is going on. Then, they think I wear a wig sometime anyway. My administration is supportive with my care but she can say some crazy stuff at times, so I limit a lot of conversation. I actually feel pretty good and when I go back to work I'm ready for all questions, but I'm not the one to volunteer information ...

    rene9

    5th grade teacher here
    and the weird thing is I just got a new student whose mom had uterine cancer when she was 21 and that made the 5th mom in my class who has already battled cancer! How strange is that!! I think God put me in that class for a reason. So I just roll with it and teach them as I go what I'm going through; The ones who've seen their moms battle it fill in the details and we just all learn from it. Cancer will effect every single one of these kids eventually. grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, ect.
  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950
    Mama G said:

    5th grade teacher here
    and the weird thing is I just got a new student whose mom had uterine cancer when she was 21 and that made the 5th mom in my class who has already battled cancer! How strange is that!! I think God put me in that class for a reason. So I just roll with it and teach them as I go what I'm going through; The ones who've seen their moms battle it fill in the details and we just all learn from it. Cancer will effect every single one of these kids eventually. grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, ect.

    Hey there
    I'm a high school

    Hey there
    I'm a high school teacher and I just told them enough that they knew I'd be out a lot at first. As we've progressed through the semester they have begun to ask more questions about treatments which I dont mind answering. As someone else mentioned, many of them have
    personal family experience with cancer and it gives them a chance to talk about it and relate their experiences. I never really addressed the wig issue as I started the year with it and it wasn't that different then my normal hair. In a couple more months when I have enough hair back to go wigless, that may be a shock! I think because most of us dont "look" sick, that it's easy for them to forget that we are battling cancer on a day to day basis.
  • crselby
    crselby Member Posts: 441
    Montessori
    I was a Montessori teacher for 25 years. If my husband hadn't retired from the fire department, I would still be working with 3 to 6 year olds! Because some of the Montessori materials are metric, I had a very good understanding of how big the 13 by 9 millimeters tumor was (about the size of the smallest cube on the tower, and how big the 10 centimeter cavity from the lumectomy was (about the same size as the largest cube of the tower)! When I started as a new teacher, I still had braces on my teeth and I remember how often I had to explain what they were for. But I was retired from that by the time I had cancer.

    However, now I teach adults (who want to become Montessori teachers) at a community college. The word of my breast cancer spread quickly (my fellow instructors let it slip) and I received so much out pouring of concern and prayers! I was not teaching that semester, so much was expressed via email. This semester I am teaching again and I intend to tell these women about my experience so that they will not avoid getting their own mammograms, thinking, as I did: "I don't have any risk factors."
  • Christmas Girl
    Christmas Girl Member Posts: 3,682 Member
    Not a teacher...
    It is Friday, your first chemo. Just posting to let you know that you're in my thoughts, Linda, with the highest of hopes for you and for successful treatment.

    Kind regards,
    Susan
  • mizcaldwell
    mizcaldwell Member Posts: 143
    Speech Therapist in an Elementary School
    I,too, work with littler kids. As the others have said, I let me kids know that I would be out for my surgery. I answered there questions honestly - at their level (I have preschoolers through sixth grade). My hair started dropping during the Thanksgiving break - so I came back to school in scarves and hats (I hated the wig!). The kids all wanted to know why I had a hat on. I said, "I have no hair!" They were shocked! Some had had experience with cancer patients - and they would relate their story. Many wanted me to take off my hat - but I wasn't quite ready for that. I had pictures from the "shaving party" - where we gave me a mohawk, etc. - so I showed the pictures. It was emotionally easier if they said "Oo Yech!" to the pictures than to my bald little head! I still get strange looks in the halls - out school has a "no hat" policy - but I'm an exception! :)

    Good luck to you - as others have said - the kids can be quite supportive and kind.

    Lori
  • LC815
    LC815 Member Posts: 155

    Not a teacher...
    It is Friday, your first chemo. Just posting to let you know that you're in my thoughts, Linda, with the highest of hopes for you and for successful treatment.

    Kind regards,
    Susan

    Thanks, Susan.
    I feel pretty good, actually. A little queasiness, but nothing major. I'm waiting for "Day Three" when it gets bad (if it does). My dear mom comes tonight and she's good for getting the girls and me organized.

    Re: school. I left early on Thursday and my fifth period was all in a dither, "Ms. Conner, don't leave, we need you!" They will be wonderful when I break the news. Such a caring group of (age appropriate self-centered) teens.

    Wish me luck on Monday!

    Peace, Linda
  • LC815
    LC815 Member Posts: 155

    Speech Therapist in an Elementary School
    I,too, work with littler kids. As the others have said, I let me kids know that I would be out for my surgery. I answered there questions honestly - at their level (I have preschoolers through sixth grade). My hair started dropping during the Thanksgiving break - so I came back to school in scarves and hats (I hated the wig!). The kids all wanted to know why I had a hat on. I said, "I have no hair!" They were shocked! Some had had experience with cancer patients - and they would relate their story. Many wanted me to take off my hat - but I wasn't quite ready for that. I had pictures from the "shaving party" - where we gave me a mohawk, etc. - so I showed the pictures. It was emotionally easier if they said "Oo Yech!" to the pictures than to my bald little head! I still get strange looks in the halls - out school has a "no hat" policy - but I'm an exception! :)

    Good luck to you - as others have said - the kids can be quite supportive and kind.

    Lori

    Thanks, Lori,
    I think my

    Thanks, Lori,
    I think my kids will be so wonderful. They are a great group. In fact, if I could just close my classroom door and hang out with them all day, that would be a good day, indeed. There may be a few of them in the coming weeks.

    Peace,
    Linda