The Strength of Ms. Stedman

Ms. Stedman's Cancer Battle Is Yet to Be Over

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The Strength of Ms. Stedman

Mr. Mensing makes his Paper Cut debut with Ms. Stedman

Mr. Mensing makes his Paper Cut debut with Ms. Stedman

Jordan Myers

Mr. Mensing makes his Paper Cut debut with Ms. Stedman

Jordan Myers

Jordan Myers

Mr. Mensing makes his Paper Cut debut with Ms. Stedman

Jordan Myers, Associate Editor-in-Chief

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With a glioblastoma in her brain and no family history of brain cancer, Ms. Stedman, Exceptional Education teacher, found herself on her own path, only guided by her doctors.

At the age of just thirteen, young Stedman began smoking, picking up on her close relative’s habits. Smoking was thought to have little consequence at the time, and most of the long-time smokers were lucky, never becoming chronically ill from smoking. As the years passed, she was eventually smoking two and a half packs of cigarettes every day. Ms. Stedman was eventually diagnosed with COPD and Asthma.

On December 26th, 2010, Ms. Stedman’s lungs collapsed for the first time, leaving doctors with the only option – to perform surgery and put her on a ventilator. She did not wake up for over a month, leaving her deeply confused to wake up in a hospital room with tubes down her throat and worst of all, in a completely different year.

After the life-changing incident, Stedman made a promise to herself, and God, that she would not smoke anything ever again. She was able to continue with her life and continue work, but had to carry around the fear of her lungs collapsing occasionally from pneumonia. “I’m constantly afraid that I could get pneumonia again and that my lungs will crash again. I’m afraid that I could wake up a month later on a ventilator again, which is a terrifying thing, trust me, to be tied down with a tube down your throat with the inability to move or talk. It has happened to me enough times that I get so terrified,” she explained.

“I get pneumonia all the time, and it usually would start as a sinus infection, and this time I thought I had another sinus infection. I felt a little dizzy and I had a little headache which is something I’ve never had before, so I went to the ER,” Ms. Stedman said. “I don’t just go to the ER every time I feel a little sick, this time just felt different to me,” she added. “The doctor looked into my right eye. He could see something behind it. So of course, he did a cat scan and an MRI and there it was. I was diagnosed with a glioblastoma.”

Jordan Myers
Ms. Stedman poses for a photo with Associate Editor-in-Chief, Nathalia Valdez

Ms. Stedman does not feel the pain of her tumor, but she does sometimes feel the adverse effects of her treatments. “The brain does not feel pain,” she said. “I am not in pain, I am not sickly – if anything I am blessed. I have been truly blessed with this school that has let me come to work every day and the teaching assistants have been just amazing and so have the students… I’ve been blessed… A lot of people suffer, I have not.”

She took chemotherapy orally, not intravenous (through the vein), which is just as effective but doesn’t make patients as sick as intravenous does. The oral medication is mainly for patient convenience and flexibility in the timing and location of administration. She has also done thirty radiation sessions. Surgery and treatments have proven effective in removing Ms. Stedman’s glioblastoma. However, on Friday, October 25th, she was given some alarming news. “We have another little tumor that we have to deal with now. It’s smaller, but it’s also deeper than the other,” she revealed. Treatment for the new tumor is still being decided. The new tumor is attached to parts of the brain that can cause permanent damage, which can be a serious factor when considering surgery techniques to reach the mass.

Due to the chemotherapy, Ms. Stedman experienced hair loss that has made only a slight difference in her everyday life. “The kids are really sweet about the hair and it doesn’t bother me that it’s gone,” she said with a slight smile.

“Sahuaro has rallied and been there even when I was sick all the beginning of this year. They kept my job for me and they made sure my kids were taught,” Ms. Stedman said thankfully. “If you have to work with cancer, this is the place to do it and I know I’m not the only one.”

“Smoking is harmful. Especially if you have a family that has lung issues. There are real consequences. Vaping is no different. It is still putting a foreign substance in your lungs,” she declared.

“I love what I do. And you know, if my life is going to be another week or another ten years, then I want to be doing what I spent my whole life working on,” she said. “It took me twenty years to become a certified teacher, from the time I started having kids to when I went back to school at twenty-six. I don’t want to give it up over a little knot in my head!”

When asked what she would tell someone who just yesterday learned of their cancer diagnosis, she answered: “Forget anything that you have done in the past, because that just brings in the what-ifs and the might-have-beens that make it more miserable than it needs to be.”

“Kathy is a very special blessing to all of her students here,” Dan Mensing, Ms. Stedman’s coworker, gushed.

Ms. Stedman has immense strength and will with no doubt beat cancer again. She is by far one of the sweetest teachers you’ll find at Sahuaro and you should feel blessed to know her if you do.

We hope you continue to bless everyone you work with here with your kind presence. Here’s to you – getting steadier, stronger and better every day. – The Paper Cut <3

 

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