The school year I never expected

Teaching is a draining and demanding profesion. However,  as the years pass, teachers manage to find a balance between home,family and career. In my 25 years of  experience I’ve managed to raise two beautiful daughters, struggle through the the loss of a parent,  survive a difficult divorce , and meet and marry the love of my life. Through each of these experiences, I  was always able to perform well in the classroom, handle duties of department chair and maintain the yearbook,newspaper and broadcast staffs. Unfortunately, on September  15th, 2015, my ability to juggle home life and school life shattered.  My husband of only three years was hospitalized and diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma.
I had never heard of  cholangiocarcinoma before, but now I am a scholar on bile duct cancer ,its treatments, chemo drugs, pain drugs,nausea drugs and many other drugs. His prognosis, six months to a year, was mind numbing. We have begun a journey that has taken us to Tampa,FL and back to Thomasville for treatments.  He’s endured nine rounds of toxic chemo drugs, two ERCPs, two stent placements, numerous appointments with a pain management specialist, a gasterointerologist, an oncologist, and a radiologist. The journey continues with every day  radiation treatments for 10 weeks. Additionally, he will soon start on a second- line chemo drug while applying for a drug trial. He continues to fight with all he has. My husband told his doctor to never tell him that there was nothing else that could be done. So,the fight continues.
This rollercoaster ride of emotions shattered my ability to maintain my usual attentive nature to my job as 10th grade English teacher. For the first time is 25 years, I’m not researching new ways to present materials, I have missed more days than I ever have in one school year,  and also for the first time ever, my heart is not in it. I have cried over the diagnosis,  I’ve cried over the eventual loss of my husband, I’ve cried over the loss of our lifestyle and I’ve cried because I feel my students have suffered as well.
However, as a life-long learner, I know that every experience, good or bad, comes with lessons. I have learned that in times like these, the true professionals and other compassionate educators step in and take over when I can not. I’ve learned who my true friends are and how I truly appreciate them.  Most importantly,  my husband and I have learned of God’s infinite wisdom. He was preparing both of us for this painful journey long before we had any idea what was in store. As this journey continues,  we will learn more lessons. I will survive in the classroom because educators are the most compassionate people you will ever meet.  Also, the next time I teach Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers,” I will be able to communicate its meaning with new vigor.  I have learned that…..       “Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops-at all-”

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