When cancer strikes, some people take time off from work. The struggle is tough. A job can wait.
Meghan Scheck was diagnosed with breast cancer in early January. But instead of requesting a medical leave, she headed straight back to Staples High School.
Scheck is a beloved English instructor. She teaches Advanced Placement Language, English 3A, and 2 sophomore classes.
That’s tough, on the best days. But Scheck never thought twice about where she should be.
“Teaching is my happy place,” she says. “It’s so nice to be there, in a place where I’m not a ‘cancer patient.’ When I’m at school, I forget about that part of my life.”
That part of her life included 6 weeks of chemotherapy. She’s got 2 sessions to go. She undergoes surgery at the end of the school year — “great timing!” she laughs — followed by more chemo.
She’s facing the ordeal with an upbeat attitude, enthusiasm, and a strong desire to deliver a rich and rigorous education to her students, no matter how tired or sick she feels.
The Staples community has responded to Scheck’s unflagging optimism.
“The kids have been great,” she says. “They’re so understanding and supportive. I’ve gotten so many sweet emails.”
The staff has been “like family,” Scheck adds. Her colleagues throughout the school — particularly those in her English department — have gone “dramatically out of their way” to help.
In ways large and small, they make her life a little easier. She was particularly touched when — at crunch time, just before grades were due — they volunteered to grade papers for her.
“It’s been humbling,” Scheck says of the outpouring of support.
Office-mate Heather Colletti-Houde has gone one step further. She set up a GoFundMe page.
Scheck — who is married, with a 4-year-old son — will probably run out of sick days this fall. The fund will also provide a cushion for health care costs, when the school system’s very good insurance policy (with a high deductible) rolls over.
There are many unforeseen costs too, for any cancer patient.
In the first days since the GoFundMe site went live, Scheck’s friends — many of them Staples staff and parents — donated $8,000.
Meghan Scheck has touched hundreds of students — and plenty of colleagues — in her 7 years at Staples. Now it’s time for all of us to provide our own lesson in the importance of community.
(Click here to contribute through Meghan Scheck’s GoFundMe page.)