One Word Changes Everything

Reflecting on another school year is always filled with a mixture of emotions for me.  This year, maybe more so than any other.

I'm going to get a little personal here - I hope you don't mind.

I had a year filled with many ups and downs.
Tough decisions.  Impossible goodbyes.  Laughing and crying - sometimes both at the same time.

There is one thing - one word - that seemed to surround so many events in this past year.
That word is cancer.

I would almost bet that nearly every single person who reads this has had a loved one or at least someone they know battle cancer.  Though there are numerous survival stories, there are that many more who were not so lucky.

My school year began with two losses.  One was the father of a dear friend and colleague of mine.  The other, a kind, sweet paraprofessional at our school.  Both of these amazing individuals had battled cancer for quite a while and had already beaten many odds.  The end came quicker than anyone expected and left holes that could never be filled.  I still have the memory card from the paraprofessional who passed, so appropriately named Star, sitting on my desk at school, in the exact same spot that I first placed it.  I just can't bring myself to move it.

Around that time, my aunt was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and was taken very quickly from us - only a few months later.  Her loss is still so difficult to fathom.  She was young, beautiful, warm, loving, and selfless.

Shortly after, my father-in-law AND one of my former students also found out this year that they too would be battling this stubborn, cruel disease.  Thankfully my father-in-law's treatments went very well and we are all optimistic that he might be able to kick cancer's butt.  His latest scans showed that he is cancer free.  Yahoo!!!!  We will continue to pray for these results with each new scan because we need him and these girls need their grandfather.

 And finally, my former student (one my absolute favorites - even though we aren't supposed to have favorites - I can't help it because she's an amazing girl).  She is only 17 now.
The strength and courage she has already portrayed is beyond admirable and I am just so proud of her.  She still has a battle ahead of her, but I know with her faith, family, and friends behind her, she WILL be able to beat cancer.  And if you are reading this and are the praying kind, she could use any and all prayers that you have to spare.

This is a picture of her in 3rd grade dressed up as a cheerleader for Halloween.

In the final weeks of school, I also very sadly lost my grandma (not to cancer, but certainly important enough to mention).  I know I have some pretty amazing angels up in heaven right now, but I sure do miss their warm hugs, listening ears, and endless amounts of wisdom to share.

So this year is over.

And while I enjoyed my students, loved the time I was able to spend with my family, had some wonderful moments and memories ---- my heart just feels like it has been broken many times over.  Broken for the loved ones I lost, for others who lost their loved ones, for those still battling this awful disease.  I'm just going to say it - CANCER SUCKS!!!

So what do we do in the midst of so many things we can't control?
Pray.  Hug.  Spend time with our loved ones.
Enjoy the NOW but also look forward and keep moving.

Summer is here and I am so ready for it!
But I will never forget this year.
I am hoping next year will be filled with much more of some other words like:

Life.  Love.  Laughter.  Happiness.
Family.  Friends.

Thanks for allowing me a moment of life outside of teaching.  I'll be back soon with some more teaching fun.  There's another word I could use some more of -- FUN!

Hmmmm --- do you think I could find some of that in Vegas???  ;-)


  1. Melissa,
    I wish I had some words for you to take away pain that will never completely heal... I just want you to know that you are a strong and inspiring person to be able to so eloquently express your feelings while not becoming negative or bitter about life's events. You are so right when you said... "Cancer Sucks!!!" I will agree 100% as it affects so many people, lives and emotions on a daily basis. Thank you for such a beautiful, personal and again, inspiring post!!
    I wish you tons of success and happy memories for this school year!!!
    Kinderland Kuties