I’ve always loved teaching.
It started when I was little. I would create math worksheets and spelling/English/reading worksheets for myself, and then I would correct them.
I would use the organ bench in our family room as my teacher’s desk.
I imagined that the family room was full of my students.
Of course, having an organ, I would also teach music.
In fifth grade, I was allowed to help the third grade teacher correct papers.
I always sought out teachers that I could help with classroom things.
Since I was in parochial school, and being the pastor’s daughter, I was seemingly perfect to teach Sunday School as I was growing up.
At one point I wanted to be a teacher, and being so involved in music in my life, I strived to be a music teacher.
But again, I went off to college after high school , not knowing what I really wanted to do. My life certainly veered away from teaching though.
Medical College of Wisconsin at St. Norbert’s College
For the fourth year in a row, out of the five years that The Medical College of Wisconsin has been at St. Norbert’s College, my oncologist and I have met with the first year medical students to educate them about having compassionate conversations.
We do this education by recreating my very first appointment with my oncologist.
He thought I was merely coming in for pain issues; I was coming in demanding answers about what the hell just happened to me being diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
At the end of our “appointment”, which lasts about forty minutes – the original appointment being an hour and a half – there is a question and answer session.
The part in which I love to participate.
Most of the questions end up being for me to answer. But I also add in my own advice and opinions.
“Always have confidence in your answers.”
“Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”, and say it with confidence. You don’t know everything. Don’t dabble with things you only partially know.”
“You don’t know what or who is going to be behind that door; don’t prejudge; walk in with a blank slate.”
AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.
Afterwards, when I spoke with one of the leaders at the school, who arranges and sits in on the presentation every year, I told her I would love to do more of these things.
She told me that they are the only medical school to have such a presentation. The feedback from the students is always positive, and the presentation always gets the intended point across.
Educating Others About My Cancer Treatments
After the presentation, one of the questions was about my support during and after my diagnosis.
My oncologist answered that one, by saying that the first six months I came in to every appointment with at least six to eight people!
That’s wasn’t quite true…maybe four or five!
I would bring in the hubs, of course; Little One and Baby Girl; Daughter Kim; a few of my best friends, being Anne, Jen (whom he referenced as my “guard dog”); my mother-in-law, Janet.
After the initial six months, I then told the hubs that I wanted to bring others with me, those that I could educate about what cancer had done to me, and how it was being treated.
It was my goal to educate.
Looking back throughout my life, though I didn’t become a teacher by education, I am still a teacher of life. My goal has always been to help others; I do my best to educate them as well.
My Future Goal to Educate Others
I always look to find the “why” behind something. I always strive to keep learning.
I want to learn the pieces and parts to see if it can be done quickly and more efficiently, while keeping quality.
I want to do my best to keep educating. I will talk about anything that I have experienced to be able to help others, and I have experienced a lot in my life!
Even if the subject is TMI, I will talk about it and help to educate.
When I was in high school, I had a class called Consumer Finance. It taught us how to write checks; how to understand and complete a simple tax return; how to balance a checking account; how to pay bills; how to budget.
There is a business course at the high school, and it teaches very important concepts such as writing resumes, finding references, and doing mock interviews.
I participate in doing mock interviews, and again, I try to convey to them confidence in their speech, posture, and hand shake.
But I think there is some curriculum that may be missing. I could be wrong though, because I don’t know everything that is taught in that course.
I believe “living a successful life” is lacking in our schools today, and though everyone uses debit and credit cards or pays with their phone, there are still some things that need to be understood and learned.
That is something I would love to teach.
The next post coming up soon will be from a guest to the blog, Jannie (Boulanger) Hanna. I know Jannie and her mom from when I worked as the Human Resources Representative at N.E.W. Plastics Corp. (2013-2015).
Jannie recently graduated from UW-Green Bay with a major of Elementary Education and Human Development, and a minor in ESL. More exciting, she was married in 2017, which is an important part of her story and her support through her journey with a painful and life-changing disease.
Sending love and hugs to all, ~Erika~