Aurora kindergarten teacher fights cancer, keeps teaching

Amy Albers taught lessons not in textbooks

AURORA, Colo. -- Inside Murphy Creek School, a kindergarten class is learning a lesson.

"Even if we cry because we're a little bit sad, does that mean we just give up?" asked teacher Amy Albers.

"No!" the children shout in unison.

"We keep moving," said Albers, smiling.

It's a lesson Albers repeats over and over -- for her students and herself.

"It was the second full week of school I was diagnosed," said Albers. "It was stage 3 breast cancer."

Albers went through eight rounds of chemotherapy, all the while determined to keep teaching.

"My fingers ached some days so much I couldn't use scissors to cut with the kids," said Albers. "But being here helped."

After a double Mastectomy, though, there was more bad news. Albers had a rare gene mutation that put her in high risk of the cancer spreading. She would need another surgery to remove her stomach.

Once again, she said, her students helped her get through the tough time.

"Kids view you as a hero no matter how broken you are and they love you," said Albers. "And so to have that on this journey has been a gift."

Albers said she has incredible support from her students and their parents, who were inspired by her positivity and energy.

"This was a battle for her life," said Erin Green, whose son Ashton, is in Albers class. "I know my son learned a lot through this last year, but it was really a life lesson for me. You can choose joy. She taught our kids through her example of living."
 
Despite two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, Albers only missed nine weeks of classes, and worked with two long-term substitute teachers who filled in for her.

"I've learned that just through Amy's positive attitude, you can kind of do anything," said Lisa Grosz, the principal for Murphy Creek.

Now, the kindergartners will graduate not really knowing how sick their teacher was, but maybe understand what was really important: Their teacher never gave up, and they are the reason why.

"They're brave little fighters, and they're accepting. They probably don't know the impact they've had on me, so it's been a blessing," said Albers.

Albers has four more weeks of radiation, and she is already planning to start training this summer for the Spartan Race in Breckenridge next year.

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