Today, as I cleaned up the window seat in our room from six months of collected stuff, I found the binder I put together in preparation to interview for teaching positions. I updated it with stuff from this school year. Then, I stared at the cover I have on it and smiled. The cover I made says “Teaching is the most important job in the world. Every moment a student is in a classroom is a moment a teacher can change that student’s life.” I believe those words with every fiber of my being. Those words are my daily teaching mantra.
It’s crazy to think it’s been almost one year since I attended the AVID summer institute, came home from it, and told A that I missed teaching and wanted to go back to the classroom.
It’s crazy to think it’s been almost one year since A began the interview process for his current position.
It’s been almost one year since I turned my own life upside down (on purpose and with certainty I was doing the right thing) and followed my heart to my current campus. I’m forever grateful to the friends who told me to listen to my heart instead of my head, for family who encouraged me to listen to my heart, and for the faculty and administration of my campus for welcoming me with open arms and hearts.
I can’t believe it’s been nearly an entire year since A and I turned our professional lives upside down (on purpose) not knowing cancer was lurking and would completely upend everything we thought we knew.
We’re both incredibly grateful to our families, friends, coworkers, and employers for supporting and caring about us throughout this year that should have just been us acclimating to new positions in our careers, but instead of just doing that, we spent the school year on a roller coaster moving at light speed while working new jobs, raising two kids, and trying to keep life as normal as possible.
Thanks binder for reminding how I felt this time last year-full of hope for the future, excitement for what I was going to do, and anticipation of the year. I need those feelings as I stare another major surgery in the face, another echocardiogram in the face, three more months of Herceptin in the face, the quickly coming one year anniversary of hearing a doctor say “I’m 70% sure this is going to come back cancer,” and the one year anniversary of hearing a doctor say, “It’s invasive ducal carcinoma grade 2. You need to find an oncologist” and seeing my life slip away as the feeling of a cancer death sentence slipped over me.
Everyday, I work very hard to combat that feeling. Everyday, I work very hard to consciously relax. Everyday, I work very hard to find some peace. Everyday, I work hard to remember this is out of my control.
Thank you, binder. You reminded me of when I felt a great deal of hope, happiness, and excitement. I need to remember how I felt almost one year ago today so that I can concentrate on those feelings as August lurks in the distance.
Thank you, binder. You reminded me cancer only defines me when I allow it to define me. I prefer to be defined as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher. I need to remember I am more than breast cancer.
Thank you, binder. You started me on a journey to a school year where I loved every moment of teaching. I found my passion again and poured my heart and soul into everyday I worked with my students.
On the last day of school, I thanked my students. I told them I was so grateful to them for rolling with the punches this year threw, for being caring and kind, and for never allowing me to wallow in self-pity too long. I thanked them for recognizing there were days I felt terrible and knowing I felt terrible, they stepped up their game because if I could be there teaching, they knew they had no excuses. I thanked them for working so hard. I told them I was humbled by them. Then, I sent them on their ways with high fives, hugs, and tears.
So, thank you, binder. Thank you for reminding me that the last nine months haven’t all been terrible. Thank you for giving me a moment to pause my cleaning and remember how I felt nearly one year ago today. Thank you for reminding not all changes are bad.
Almost one year ago today, I made one of the best decisions of my life. Thank you, binder, for reminding me cancer takes nothing away from my memories unless I allow it. So, I’ll work really hard today to stop my scumbag brain from dwelling on the negative and instead, I’m going to make every effort to focus on how I felt this time last year. That’s the least I can do for myself.