From lemons to lemonade
From lemons to lemonade blog post from Jooya Teaching Resources.

Sometimes life just sucks! Sometimes you think life is travelling along just nicely, then BOOM! Something is just thrown in your path and you have no choice but to deal with it, now.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it, this has happened to me in the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, I was told that I have breast cancer. This just sucks. Cancer does not ever have good timing, but this is really a sucky time for me and my Year 12 Music class. As a teacher, especially one who has senior music classes, and has to help get their class ready to be examined by external examiners in early September, this timing of the big C, just sucks! I have no choice but to have surgery this week, and to then recover and go onto further treatment. What this treatment will be, at this stage I am not sure, it will depend upon the results of testing the lumps when they are removed. But, at this stage, it means that I am off work for the rest of this term while I go through surgery and possibly both radiation and chemotherapy. I may even be off class/work for the rest of this year! Time will only tell.

I am a person who likes to be organised. I have my classes prepared for the year, at the beginning of the year. I have all my assessments, marking rubrics and mark books set up for the year, in the beginning of the year. I like to do this mainly because it frees up my time during the school day to concentrate on other things that I as a Head of faculty have to do – dealing with misbehaviour, parents, struggling students, staff issues, budgets, orders, resources, and anything else that can be thrown my way!

Luckily, I am organised! When I was told two weeks ago that it was cancer, I had to think about how I could make it easy for someone to step into my shoes and keep my classes going. As a Music teacher, it is really hard to find other Music teachers that are available to take over a full-time load at this time of year. Casual, or substitute Music teachers are as rare as hen’s teeth! But what makes things worse, is the fact that I have a Year 12 class, of now 7 students, who each have to continue to prepare and perform 4 pieces each for their HSC Music Performance exam! And out of the 28 pieces, I was accompanying in 16 of them! So now, my colleagues have about 4 weeks to learn, rehearse and refine performances that I have been working on with my students for months. My colleagues are wonderful – they are brilliant musicians and can easily step into my shoes, but, my kids now have had their preparation for their exams interrupted and this will certainly throw them. Our Year 12 classes have just finished their Trial Exams, and they return to normal classes this week. I did not tell my students that I have cancer last week when they did their Trial Performances, I wanted them to have a “normal” exam experience without stressing about what will happen in the future for them. I am telling the class, and handing them over to my colleagues today. I am not looking forward to it, but it is what it is and we have put lots of things in place for them. They will be OK. I just have to trust our arrangements and let go myself!

So that’s what sucks, timing! But, there is light at the end of this tunnel. There are advantages to being forced to have time off! There are lots of positives in any situation, if you choose to look and find them. And, I have been lucky enough to find these little blessings. So yes, I have cancer, but it is treatable. So yes, I have to take time off work, but I have so many sick days up my sleeve that we will be fine financially. So yes, I will have lots of medical bills, but we have private health insurance. So yes, I will have to take each day as it comes, but that is a brilliant lesson for me to take and try to apply more regularly in my life. I have a great family, I have great friends, and a great supportive staff at work who all want me to be OK – that is both humbling and beautiful at the same time.

As I have already said, I am organised. I have been able to easily prepare for someone to take over my classes at work. All the resources have been printed, they are ready to just pick up and teach. Luckily, as an experienced teacher, I know the importance of setting up good routines for my classes – my classes know the drill! My classes know how to get out equipment, to treat it with respect, and then put it away where they found it. This will mean that whoever takes on the classes will be able to let the students tell them how things are done, and the teacher will just be able to continue as if nothing has changed! Sadly, we are all replaceable! There is always someone else to take over and do our jobs – no matter who you are or how important you think you are!

This week is going to be a tough one. I have to tell my year 12 class, that in essence – I am leaving them to complete their HSC on their own. I have surgery to remove the lumps (there are two of them). I am not sure what will be harder to do, but I do think it will be the first one. I really don’t like letting people down.

The silver lining is that I will have to take time to get well. I have to be selfish for a while and stop looking after everyone else. I have to take time, to enjoy all life has to offer each day. This will be slightly foreign to me – but I am sure I can used to it!

I intend on making lemonade out of my lemons – I will have less work stress and hopefully time to do some more things that I want to like creating resources for both you and me! I do hope that I will be able to continue writing this blog, but I may not be as regular, depending on my future treatments, so I apologise for that in advance.

Life will be what it will be.

And I intend on living it for quite a while longer!

Until next time

Happy teaching

Julia from Jooya

2 Responses

  1. Hi Julia, I greatly admire your candidness in sharing this and you will surely be in my prayers. That’s great that you have a supportive family and colleagues at your school to step in to assist in any way possible. Your organization is a huge asset to both your colleagues and to your students. And your positive spirit (even in the face of receiving this diagnosis) is a great encouragement to all who read this blog post!

    1. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, much appreciated.
      I start chemo very soon, which will be another challenge in itself, but everything happens for a reason.

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