Fear and Acceptance

Life is so precious and I think we tend to forget that until our world is rocked by something big and scary like the “C” word. My journey started last year in April when I went to the Doctor about an unusual bulge near my throat. During the test, the Doctor noticed nodules in my thyroid; I had to have a biopsy after the nodules were found. The biopsy was very painful and the wait to find out the results seemed like an eternity. It took three weeks of calling the Doctor’s office before I could not take the wait any longer and I went and picked up the results myself. My results were atypical follicular cells. The diagnosis was later changed to follicular neoplasm. Lesson number 1 is that it is okay to be afraid. I had to repeat every test I had over the past year except for the biopsy. Now it is February and I am scheduled for surgery in March. I must admit that I am frightened BIG TIME. I think I have gone through every emotion there is from denial to acceptance to anger to denial and now to being scared. At first, I shrugged this off with a smile and a joke.

Later I felt abandoned by my friends – hardly a word of care. I was especially angry with one that had recently gone through breast cancer. I thought that I stood by her by calling, going to Church, eating breakfast, and giving her small gifts. I felt that when I needed her she blew me off and compared her malfunctioning thyroid to my cancer and indicated “no big deal.” Now I realize that friendship is not 50-50, sometimes it is 70-30 and I would not change one moment of support for her and I would do it all over again. I now know that in her eyes, I am not a close friend, and that is okay with me. We all see each other differently. Lesson number 2 you cannot force someone to be your friend. I suppose that I have learned to appreciate my true friends and accept the acquaintances for just that and no more. I have learned that I have many wonderful friends that I did not realize before all of this.

I think people get the wrong impression about thyroid cancer, because they think it is the “good cancer”, while it has a great survival rate it also has a high rate of reoccurrence.  After thyroid cancer, people are subjected to test the rest of their lives. Life is forever changed for survivors. Lesson number 3 no cancer is good. I am afraid what will happen in March, but I know that I have a wonderful husband and my mother is there for me too. Life will return to normal and I will survive. Once my thyroid is removed that is not the end of this as I will have to face having radiation and yearly scans. I still cannot believe this happened, but I am thankful for the friends and the family that have shown me so much love and support. Lesson number 4 appreciate the people in your life and let go of the rest.

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A Second Chance

New beginnings are so exciting. The summer is ending, and rather than signifying a sad event, it signals that school will begin again. Students are eager to return to school, teaches are working hard to get their classrooms ready, and parents are shopping for school supplies. New freshman are entering college and excited about a new start. Summer does not signal the end, no it is a new and fresh start, a chance to redefine ourselves, in a sense, a second chance. I have many friends and family members starting new jobs and I am excited for them to see what new things they achieve.
I love the idea that in life we are given second chances, not just once, but over-and-over again. We all deserve a second chance, we all make mistakes, and we all learn from our mistakes. I celebrate my mistakes, because with each one, I have learned something very valuable. I have learned to love my children, as they are only young for such a short time. I discovered the true meaning of friendships, as fare-weathered friends are soon gone.

In life, I have survived the greatest heartaches the death of my father, the breakup of a marriage, the betrayal of a friend, and the heartache of a child with a long-term disability and yet, I survived, and even thrived. During my darkest moments, I felt heartache and despair, but I recovered and now I know that I can live through bad times and I can learn from them and help others during their bad moments. The other side is joy!

I see the end of summer as the beginning of new hope that life will get a bit easier, that dreams will come true. As I take joy in seeing kids return to school, and friends start new jobs, and family move to new homes I have hope that this year I too will get a full-time teaching job and if not I will preserver. Just as the seasons change and life is renewed, I am renewed. The greatest lesson I have learned with the ending of summer is that of hope that summer will return and life begins again – new.

Humanity and the class of 2013

I graduated from a master’s program that focused on “The Great Books Philosophy” from American Military University. I love classical literature and have read classical literature since I was a child. When people ask, why did I choose such a major and I did choose this, as I have a master’s in Liberal studies in Reading and English from Fort Hays State University. I answer quite simply to learn and teach about humanity. Humanity has become secondary in our lives with the advent of technology. I love technology and have worked in the technology field for over 15 years. I have an undergraduate degree in Robotics and I have taught computer repair and electronics. Technology is essential in our lives. However, there is a down side; we are losing sight of virtue, critical thinking skills, and compassion. Schools focus on common core and standards, which in themselves are great but they do not focus on developing character or empathy.

These qualities are important to me as a person, a student, and an educator. I am a teacher at Vincennes Lincoln High School, an adjunct instructor at both Vincennes University and Frontier Community College. I want my students to read literature not just for enjoyment or knowledge but to take away lessons about kindness and justice. “Virtue rejects facility to be her companion. She requires a craggy, rough and thorny way” (Michel de Montaigne). I know this to be true, life is difficult and sometimes filled with heartache, but life is also wonderful and full are special moments. I have experienced both great sorrow and great joy. As education moves away from teaching about humanity society loses something and our children will graduate without the benefit of these important lessons.

The class of 2013 will be soon be leaving their educational institutions and going out into the world. They will face challenges that they may not be prepared to face. Have we let these students down in some way? Have we taught children to embrace the challenges with grace and dignity? Have we stressed that we do not always get what we want and that no is sometimes the right answer? Have we taught our children to be empathetic to other people and to the world around them? In the words of George Bernard – “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of humanity.”

I challenge the class of 2013 to seek out challenges, face difficulties with grace, and to care about the people and the world around them. I also challenge them to read the classics think about the lessons they are learning. Life is amazing and there is so much more out there than students learn in school and it is up to each individual to keep learning.