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Monday, December 7, 2015

MISD Teacher Shares Story of Fighting Breast Cancer While Pregnant

Janie Woolsey back in the classroom after delivering
a healthy baby boy in May 2015.
Within the span of one year, third grade teacher Janie Woolsey experienced three life-changing events: the death of a child, a diagnosis of breast cancer, and the birth of her son.

“I’ve always heard that God won’t give you more than you can handle. Apparently, He thinks that I can handle quite a bit,” said the Willie Brown Elementary School teacher with a chuckle.

Woolsey’s 12-year-old daughter died suddenly of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in July 2014. She said she wanted to have another child so that her son would have a sibling, so she became pregnant two months later.

In the sixth month of her pregnancy, she detected signs of breast cancer. Her suspicions were confirmed after a series of medical exams.

Woolsey keeping a cheerful attitude
while undergoing her chemo treatments.
“I was so scared,” Woolsey recalls. “I didn’t know what to do and how the cancer would affect the baby.”

Woolsey started her rounds of chemotherapy. She took a break from the treatments to give birth to a healthy baby boy, and then resumed the treatments afterwards. Her radiation therapy will continue through the end of the year.

“I really hope everything goes well. If the doctors see no growth and no new masses, I’ll be very happy,” said Woolsey.

Woolsey said the support she received from her campus and the community during her cancer diagnosis was overwhelming. Staff members, students, and parents from Willie Brown Elementary School and the surrounding community raised money through “Woolsey Warriors” t-shirt and wristband sales. The total amount raised was approximately $10,000.

She said the extreme generosity showed to her makes her proud that Mansfield ISD launched the Colors for Caring initiative this school year. Colors for Caring takes place on the first Monday of the month, and the community is encouraged to wear a color that represents a cancer that affected the life of a loved one.

The Willie Brown Elementary community showing
support for their beloved teacher.
“It makes the people going through it feel supported. It’s a great feeling to know that someone cares and that people are thinking of you.”

Through it all, Woolsey has kept her contagiously cheerful spirit and chooses to look for a silver lining to her situation. She has personally felt the power of community and wants to pay it forward.

“I think Colors for Caring is an awesome idea. It brings people closer and lets them know that they're not alone,” she added.

View the Colors for Caring photo gallery here.