Thank God it's Friday

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Monday It's been another challenging lesson with my delightful Year 9 class. As an NQT only a month into my first post, Year 9 classes are what I dread. Sure enough, the class challenge me and I pray for hometime.

Half-past three finally comes and we all breathe a sigh of relief.

Tuesday I'm ready to face another two classes of Year 9s today (I have five in all). First I have something else to face. A couple of weeks into the new term I found a small lump in my breast. The clinic said all indications were that it was benign, but to return this morning for biopsy results. I have a free period and promise to be back for my next class. As I sit waiting for the consultant, I hear him mention my name in the room next door in the same sentence as the word tumour. My fears are confirmed.

I struggle to maintain my composure as I hear the word cancer. My first thought is that I must go back to school as my class will be waiting. I just make it to the beginning of the lesson but realise I am in no fit state to teach. My head of department takes one look at my face and we agree I must go straight home.

Wednesday After spending the rest of yesterday in shock I am resolute that things must go on as normal. I head into work feeling fragile, and close colleagues are under instructions not to be nice to me as I know it will make me cry. I bump into the head in the corridor and he starts saying how sorry he is to hear my news. I can't take this and stop him abruptly in mid-sentence and turn on my heel.

Thursday I am told the lump is small and my prognosis is good. But I still face surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The only time I'm not thinking about cancer is when I'm standing in front of my classes. Suddenly Year 9s have become my salvation as it takes all my wits and concentration to keep them sitting in their seats and on-task.

Friday The rhythm of school life continues to be my salvation as I start to come to terms with my diagnosis. It's been a hell of week.

* Eight weeks on and I have now had the lump removed and am undergoing a course of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. I have had to stop work for the time being. The school has been really supportive and I hope to restart my NQT year in September.

Wendy Baxter teaches in East Yorkshire. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email friday@tes.co.uk. We pay for every article we publish

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