Saturday, February 14, 2009

I met a woman.......

...and she was so unassuming. She was in my class today. I secretly named her The Shy One. She was quiet, did what was required and showed proficiency in her skills. Then came the written test. She did not pass it. It did not seem to devastate her, like some of my students, or disappoint her. It seemed more like it confirmed something she already knew.

I waited till the other students were gone to talk with her. I knew that english was her second language, and that is usually where the fault lies in good students who fail written tests. As I talked with her, she shared that she is a cancer survivor. Last year she was diagnosed and she has endured 35 chemo treatments in addition to surgery. She is facing another surgery in May.

She said the chemo has changed her. She cannot focus like she used to. She is weak and her joints hurt. She said during treatment she wanted to give up because it was so awful, but her husband wouldn't let her. He begged her to keep fighting. She teared up as she shared her story. She kept apologizing and said she didn't want me to think she was using her illness as an excuse.

I told her she was a strong woman and a survivor. I shared with her that I didn't think it was a lack of focus, but a language barrier, and I would review the material with her and let her test again. The next time she passed.

Her doctor has told her there are no guarantees for her. She can do everything right, and the cancer can still come back. She has to live with that reality for the rest of her life, which I hope will be a long one.

I must learn not to label. She was not shy at all. She was afraid that the treatment for a killer disease had robbed her of her ability to concentrate. She'd lost confidence in her ability to succeed. I didn't do anything for her I wouldn't have done for any other student. I just let her prove to herself that she can still meet obstacles and succeed. She walked out with a smile on her face, and renewed confidence in herself.

She is a success, and I am humbled to have had her as my student.

1 comment:

  1. Aww, this made me tear up. It reminded my of a British reality star named Jade Goody who, at 27, is dying from cervical caner. She now has a couple of weeks left to live and she's leaving behind two little boys.

    It's kinda scary to think of your body killing itself like that and how it can happen to anyone. I need to stop thinking now or I'll never get through my day because I'll be too busy checking for lumps or my heart rate.