Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Now Everyone Knows!

     Yesterday I told all my girls about my breast cancer. I had decided that I would start class by telling them, so that they had plenty of time to ask questions if they wanted to. I have always considered it really important to be honest with my students as much as is appropriate, so talking about my breast cancer honestly and openly with them was one of my major objectives.
     My first period class is also my homeroom, so I spend ten extra minutes with that class each day. They are 8th graders, and I do love that class. They are the only class that has seen my "Dat Boom" music video. I should show that to my other classes. Anyway, the girls started to trickle in, and Mary Rose was hovering in the doorway, so that made them curious. Then Monique, the counselor, came in, and that made them suspicious. So they were all asking what was going on and what was happening, and was someone dying???
    I said -- Ladies, just let everyone get here, and I will tell you what's up. So that made them all crazy. We got through the morning announcements and prayer, and everyone was finally in class. I looked at the girls, and said that I needed to speak to them about something. Then I started to cry, which is not what I planned! I calmed down and got through my first sentence, about having breast cancer and needing to let them know what was happening next. The girls did not expect this at all-- several girls thought I was going to say I was pregnant. (Dear Lord!)
     I explained all about the cancer and my prognosis and reconstruction. Then the girls asked questions -- most wanted to know what was going to happen next and how long I would be out. The girls were so sweet -- several girls were in tears, and I was pretty teary myself. Gina came by and spoke to the girls for a bit. Then I got a huge mass hug, which was awesome.
     Then it was second period. My speech was easier for this class, but one of my favorite students is in that class, and her mother died of breast cancer when that student was 11. She talked about her mother's cancer a bit, and I was worried my news would bring up difficult memories, but she is a very together girl, so she was fine. A few other girls told me about their moms or aunts who were survivors, which is very encouraging. I got more hugs.
     My third period class was most suspicious, as that was the class that I had missed a few times for doctor's appointments. They didn't have as many questions, but a few girls were upset. More hugs. By then, I had improved my speech a bit, and didn't automatically start crying.
     Fourth period is my first seventh grade class, and they are my honors 7th graders. They were not that emotional. They were mostly concerned about what I would watch on Netflix. I don't think got any hugs in that class.
     Fifth period was much more emotional. One of my girls was extremely upset. Turns out her mother has stage four breast cancer. I wish I had known that and I would have told her privately. She emailed me last night explaining everything. There were a lot of tears in that class, and hugs! I do love the hugs!
     It was finally sixth period, and my last class. By this point it was hard to keep track of what I had told which class. Sixth period had lots of good questions -- that class was most interested in my new boobs and what size they would be. So that was pretty funny.
     Then the day was over, and I was worn out. It was an emotional day. But it is so nice having it all out in the open. I got home and had a couple of incredibly supportive emails from parents.
     I decided to keep telling people, so I mentioned telling the girls on Facebook. I wasn't sure if that was a good idea, but I have heard from people I haven't heard from in years. So it's been quite gratifying.
     This morning, before leaving with the seventh graders for the field trip to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), I was chatting with my section. One of my girls told me that everyone had been posting pink ribbons on Instagram and Snapchat with the hashtag fujiwillwin. How freaking amazing is that????
     The field trip was fun, and several parents spoke to me and thanked me for being so open and honest with the girls. It is overwhelming having so many people being so nice and supportive. I do have one mom, though, who is a chiropractor and nutritionist, who I knew would want to speak to me. She believes that western medicine is the enemy and all that jazz. I like this woman, generally speaking, and her daughter had told me her mom wanted to talk to me. So I decided I would just get it over with.
     She told me that I was not too far gone and had time to make a change. Then she explained that oncologists were in the death business and just wanted to take my money and kill me, basically. It was super inspiring. I let her give her spiel and told her I would look into it, but was happy with the care I have received. As annoying as she is, I know that she knows that I am not going to listen to her advice, and she will probably leave me alone from this point on. So I give her credit for that. She did make some comment about crack, and I told her that I had stopped taking crack at this point, so that was one piece of her advice that I would take. It's a good thing I'm not a basket case, or I would have been really pissed about her crazy anti-medicine rantings. Who tells a cancer patient that oncologists are in the death business? For fuck's sake!
     My dad and stepmother are coming Monday. My last day at work is this Friday. Things are getting real! That's ok -- I'm ready. Ish. #fujiwillwin!


Babs said...

#Fujiwillwin!!! Your students are the best! And you've handled the nut jobs with grace and poise - your mom (and mine!) would be so proud!! I know I get very, very irritated when people start to babble about lifestyle and breast cancer. My mom was extremely fit, slender, active, ate a very healthy diet, and still got breast cancer. So F*** that crap and anyone who tries to make another person feel as though they somehow are responsible for getting this crappy disease!!! It can happen to ANY woman! And you are VERY healthy (remember how you would have DIED had you not been so healthy??), so double F*** that crap!! Love you to pieces!! (this is Barb, by the way, although I think you probably would figure it out)

Heather E. said...

I want to like Barb's comment!!! ^

AMY said...

Yes yes yes! Barb's comments are spot on. I don't understand why people feel the need to assume somehow you are responsible, and you should feel bad and take responsibility. So frustrating!