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I need opinions regarding lung cancer in elementary school


Lisa O

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:cry:

By way of refresher, I an a stage IV BAC, diagnosed first by thorascopic biopsy 6/02 then determined to be stage IV during thoracotomy 7/02. I have been

"relatively" stable on Iressa and Celebrex for three and a half years. I have two children, the 10 year old is the subject of this post.

My daughter's class has an anti- drug program called D.A.R.E. It is a great program which basically scares the children away from alcohol tobacco and drugs. The problem is that they presented the information regarding tobacco in

a very terrifying manner to my daughter's class and when she heard the statistics, she suffered a major setback regarding dealing with any ability to

handle my lung cancer.

Leah had been told of my lung cancer honestly from the onset. She has also been told that the medication is working. We do not discuss DEATH one way or another although she has not been made any promises and does understand that

"some people" "can" die from cancer, including lung cancer. This presentation was basically a slap in the face and a promise that I WOULD die from this.

Unfortunately, the presenting officer's father had died at 42 from lung cancer.

To complicate matters, during the presentation, the officer made it clear that lung cancer was the result of the person's own actions,.... ie....

smoking. At that time, my daughter raised her hand and corrected him and told him that I had lung cancer unrelated to tobacco and that it is not unusual to get lung cancer from other causes. The officer was taken aback and felt terrible. Her teacher, however, assumed that Leah was fine and never called me to alert me to the conversation or to tell me what type of statistics would be

presented in D.A.R.E.

When Leah got home she was quite unnerved and repeatedly said, "I know that is not going to happen to you though right Mommy.... your medicine is working so you won't die right"? All I could do was tell her that my medicine was

working right now but that no one knows what the future holds. She was not reassured and she has been calling out for me in the middle of the night.

When I mentioned this to the teacher she told me that the officer has to answer all questions and that he would continue to talk about death if that is what came up in class. She said if a student asked how long someone would live if diagnosed with lung cancer he would answer that. I told her no one

could answer that. I then called the officer who was VERY reasonable and said he would not discuss statistics or death at all in DARE and that he regretted bringing it up at all.

Yesterday, my daughter's principal told me that it was unreasonable to expect the curriculum to change for my daughter. She also said that since my

daughter spoke in class, "she was fine" and apparently only became upset when she saw me. She also said that since I was on TV (this was regarding women and lung cancer NOT DEATH STATISTICS and LEAH DIDN'T SEE IT) that I shouldn't

be concerned with the death statistics they presented in school.

I am writing this because she was extremely cruel and hurtful during our discussion yesterday. Both my mother and I have lung cancer and the discussion

on death was very damaging to my daughter. We are swimming backwards right now but I am not sure how angry I have a right to feel about the comments made.

Thanks for any input.

Lisa

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I think talking to the DARE officer about the statistics and his need to become more educated when it comes specifically to lung cancer, and death in general, was the right thing to do. I'm glad he was receptive to you and your concerns.

As for the administrators/teachers, as a parent, I would have reacted the same way you did! I would be angry, not so much at their ignorance about lung cancer, but at their unapologetic and unsympathetic responses to you and your situation when you brought it to their attention.

I would write a letter to all parties, including the superintendant of the school district and outline your concerns and your points of view and how those teachers responded to you when you spoke to them.

While they can't "change" the curriculum of the entire school just for your daughter- they might consider making future presentations better and more informed and perhaps learn to practice some empathy and tact.

Thinking back to when I was in school, those DARE presentations were all about shock and scare tactics. Those methods seem to be what works on the younger generation- so an effort to balance the presentation may be fruitless- hey, that's ok...so they say they can't change anything and they won't change anything for one student......ok accepted....BUT how you were treated in regards to your concerns when you spoke to them about it is unacceptable.

They needed to HEAR what you were saying, SEE where you were coming from, UNDERSTAND your concerns, APOLOGIZE for what, if any emotional trauma your daughter experienced, and then wish you the best.

Not be combative, stubborn or righteous.

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Lisa,

I'm so very sorry that you are dealing with this right now. To me, it just seems like it is really unnecessary to talk about statistics with young children. And yes, they should be careful about what they say to them regarding this. Don't they realize how that could affect a child who has a loved one dealing with this disease? I have no advice for you, just offering support in a difficult situation. I would hope that they would be more sensitive to your request. Your little girl sounds so mature, I can tell you have done such a good job about explaining your illness to her without it being scary.

I wish I had more to offer here...

Cathy

Cathy

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:cry:

to complicate matters, during the presentation, the officer made it clear that lung cancer was the result of the person's own actions,.... ie....

smoking. At that time, my daughter raised her hand and corrected him and told him that I had lung cancer unrelated to tobacco and that it is not unusual to get lung cancer from other causes. ...Yesterday, my daughter's principal told me that it was unreasonable to expect the curriculum to change for my daughter. She also said that since my daughter spoke in class, "she was fine" and apparently only became upset when she saw me. She also said that since I was on TV (this was regarding women and lung cancer NOT DEATH STATISTICS and LEAH DIDN'T SEE IT) that I shouldn't be concerned with the death statistics they presented in school.

Lisa

First I would commend Leah on her bravery. To speak out in class in opposition to a teacher or a presenter takes a certain amount of guts. I'm so sorry this happened to Leah and yourself. I wouldn't waste anymore time trying to educate the school administration on lung cancer. It's obvious the principal doesn't care and is of the mindset, smoking causes cancer and you are a freak case of some sort.

I remember when I was in fifth grade, I watched films that showed healthy lungs and lungs plagued with tar that were blackened. Never was I educated on cancer, nor did I see footage of tumor riddled lungs. Yes, it's very reasonable to ask the curriculum be changed.

I can't imagine how pissed you are. Just reading your post incited reactions in me and it wasn't my daughter affected. I'd find out when the next school board meeting is, ask to be added to the agenda and take it from there. Good luck Lisa, and again, I'm so sorry for the insensitivity demonstrated by your school.

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Wow, Lisa. This has made me really angry. I agree with Katie......I think you have every right to be outraged with the attitude of the school to your concerns. We don't have anything like this programme here, and I don't know how it operates, but I would think that it would be prudent for the people delivering the seminars to speak with the teachers beforehand in order to determine whether members of the class are affected by any of the topics being discussed. And, personally, I would then expect them to 'recallibrate' the material accordingly. I would be happy for them to be talking about the statistics relating risky behaviour (such as smoking) to disease development. And for them to relay the fact that lung cancer is a very serious illness. But I would NOT tolerate discussion of survival statistics. Even if one of the kids asked outright.

I hope that you are able to reassure your daughter. The fact that you have had stage IV for almost 4 years already means that you have seriously defied the odds, so those pesky statistics don't really apply to you anyway!!

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You can't always shield your child from the sad things that are part of life, but I think in these school presentations, they shouldn't scare children with death statistics; these people don't have a clue of your child's life experiences, personality, understanding of the disease/death... and consequences of presenting death statistics! The presentations should be made in accordance with psychologists/counselors.

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I am with you Lisa - I would be incensed. How we deal with illness and death in our family is our business and I don't want anyone else talking to my kids about death primarily because I know how to approach the subject with my kids better than anyone else and I also know the language to use so that my kids will understand and it(hopefully) will not be as scary. I don't think it is sheltering, I think it is responsible parenting not to have or want the beejeebers scared out of your kids.

Katie is right on the money - write the letters and follow up in person if needed. I would be raising cain if I were in your shoes.

Best of luck to you and hopefully you will be able to get Leah back on track.

Much Love,

Amy

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I teach. Teachers are ALWAYS being asked to regulate curriculum based on a student's specific needs, whether they have learning disabilities, ADD, etc. To say otherwise is silly. I try to know my students, and have the ability to tailor curriculum based on individual needs. Most good teachers would be sensative to your daughter's needs in this case.

My daughter's class did a unit in Science on cancer (6th grade)this year. There was a section in the text book about lung cancer, and her teacher was very sensative to Taylor during this class. She asked her if she had anything to add, and Tay gave some info she had learned. Tay would have also been very upset if they had been riddled with 'statistics.' As I remember, the book seemed to place blame on risk factors as well, but the teacher didn't seem to dwell on them.

Of course our kids should learn about risk factors, and unfortunately not all kids learn such things at home. But our kids should also be taught in a supportive environment. It sounds like the officer is willing to work with you.

As a teacher, I am so very disappointed in the treatment you received at your school from both the teacher and principal. Your daughter is very brave, and thank heavens she talked to you about this, instead of keeping it bottled up inside her.

Go Leah!

:) Kelly

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I Can Not add anything new that has been said but I do agree with every one here. something needs to be done because who knows who else may be affected the same way

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Another teacher reporting in . . .

I cannot begin to list all the modifications I have made to curriculum because of individual children's needs and histories. I cannot comprehend the thought processes of that principal either.

You have a right to be angry, and for sure let the superintendent know.

gail

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Lisa,

Hear, hear to Katie's response.

I just don't understand the incomassionate responses you received from the school "professionals"! Pinch them. Are they human?

If I were the teacher or school principal, I would be on the look-out to take extra care in being alert for any signs that your daughter may be struggling even before the D.A.R.E. presentation.

If I had received a call from you, my focus would have gone to your daughter and her needs instead of reacting in a horribly selfish defensive manner. An apology from the school adm. is in order! The presenter needs to be commended for his willingness to help and his sensitivity to your daughter's situation.

I hope that little Leah will eventually come to terms with what has been done. I have faith that she is going to work this out on her own. Sleep is often the place that we do this, I am told.

Good luck, Lisa.

Cindi o'h

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I think it says a lot for the officer that he was willing to adjust his program and obviously realized his blunder. I think the person that needs to be called on the carpet is the principal. I don't believe D.A.R.E. is a school "curriculum" is it? Why don't you write a letter to the school superintendent regarding the unprofessionalism of the principal? There was no need for that.

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Hi I work in the school disrict abnd have sat in on many dare assemblies. I know they sometimes go overboard with the scare tactics to really hit home that kids should not smoke or do drugs. I dont think they realize how some really sensitive kids really take it to heart.My daughter came home from school and was so upset that my husband smoked...and she bugged him for months, She was really worried for a long time.It would have bben nice if someone would have thought about it and gave the dare officer the heads up about your daughters situation.Once the mistake was made I think they should have been most apologetic.I would take it to the mike at the next board meeting...that is were you will get the most results.Most people your children deal with in school are wonderful,but there is a rotten apple in every bunch.You have every right to feel the way you do. Good luck...DEb

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Hi Lisa, Oh this story steams me. School administrators can be such snots. They think they are gods. I can tell you the school administration knows very well that they and the teacher goofed up, but they think that by bullying you, you will just go away. I've been a math teacher for over 18 years, I've seen how the administration works. Even with tenure, a good teacher can not come to your rescue for fear of losing their job or being demoted, and often the crummy teachers are so inadequate they have made a career of climbing up administration's butts for protection and merit raises.

As tax payers, you and the community pay big bucks to those school administrators, about $110K to $150K each maybe more depending on location. It's public record, but just try to find out. (Your community would probably be shocked to find out exactly how much they are paid). Administrators serve at the pleasure of the school board, usually an elected group of long time community members. The best way to take control of the situation is bring this all to the board's attention. Perhaps you, a friend or neighbor, already have close ties with someone on the school board. Make use of those community ties to let them know what happened to your little girl. It's the board's job to keep those administrators under control and nothing upsets a board more than finding out an administrator's ignorant actions have placed the school district at risk for litigation.

Do not bother with speaking at open forum at the monthly board meeting, it will just make you more upset and virtually nothing will be accomplished. It's their usual ploy to dispose of complaints.

Let the board know you mean business; the school administration will do their best to dismiss and intimidate you. This is simply negligence on their part, and there is no reason for the school to have hurt or frightened your daughter in this way. Your daughter deserves damages (and you could probably find a lawyer to write a letter to the board), but at the very least she deserves a letter of apology and a promise that it will never happen again, not to your daughter or to anyone else's child.

The educational system is one giant political rat's nest. I am sorry for their uncaring and insulting behavior toward you and your daughter. Barb

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Hi Lisa,

I am with those that have responded already. Your and Leah's situation has upset me greatly, as Tim is a non smoker, and we are trying to keep a positive attitude for the children. They know he has lung cancer, but as you, we don't talk about death. Call the principal, the superintendent, whomever. Someone needs to be made aware, and insure it doesn't happen again!

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Regarding a comment that blaze made...that is interesting...our monthly board meeting seems to be where we get the most results from speaking out...kind of putting the board members on the spot. The only downfall is because it is a public forum everyone then knows your business. I work for the district plus my kids go to the school....so I can never speak at the mike...lol Deb

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Call me jaded, but...our board does not respond period to public comment. They just sit there and stare at the speaker, sometimes making faces to discredit speaker. Then the president of the board simply "thanks" the speaker for coming and says they are not allowed to discuss any item that is not on the board agenda. I've seen many good parents - who were absolutely right- be politely shut down and pushed out the door in tears. Usually it is a crummy teacher they are protecting, like I said before, a crummy teacher who has survived, is protected and rewarded only by being politically up the butt of the administration.

Since being dx'd I have no time for their sick politics. As soon as my last class is over, I'm out'a there. Otherwise my big mouth would get me in soooo much trouble. :D:D:D Barb

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Maybe, I am from the old school. When anyone spoke at our school and to our class or in assembly our parents received a notice that there was going to be a guest speaker. Our parents were aware of the topic and at THEIR (parents) discrection if the child would attend. It was called an approval slip. Approved by a parent, Not just go ahead and do it without permission from a parent or guardian. This is why our society is so messed up. Parents have no rights any more... That Principal should be reprimanded for her actions and comments to you.

I would take it to the school board. hmm Who's side are they on?

This leaves such a negative in Leah's mind. One she will always remember unfortunately. She was taught to have respect for her elders. This is an impression that has been set in her mind by teacher's and an officer. This must be really confusing for her. I am sorry she was subjected to this discussion in school.

I went to school in the Midwest too (Missouri.) Teaching is sure different from when I went to school. I know, I have two niece's who are teachers.

Karen

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Lisa,

I feel bad about Leah, but she showed a lot

of guts speaking like she did.

The bad thing is that she got hurt and that

may linger for some time, I know you will

look out for her.

The school Principal is wrong and should

never address a parent the way she did.

You got good grounds for asking for an

apology and a change in the future presentations.

Let us know the follow up.

Jackie

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Lisa IS an Attorney.

Have an associate write a letter to the School Board.

Does anyone remember, "PERMISSION Slips"?

My suggestion is take your child out of Public School. Public schools have free reign unfortunately. Saying is, it takes a village to raise a child. At least as a parent, not a village you decide what they learn in private schools, permissions slips are still used.

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We've experienced both public and private schools. In this district, a good thing is the public schools MUST use a permission slip for almost everything.

I think even having a permission slip in this regard, there is no way to be able to predict how the officer went about the presentation, his knowledge of the subjects of cancer, or his answers to questions about statistics or death.

I think the main issue for me would be how those at the school treated Lisa and her family after she brought her concerns to their attention. And that was unacceptable.

Good luck Lisa. Hope you find some resolve soon and prayers for Leah.

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From a teacher's perspective, I honestly would not hesitate to speak with the superintendent regarding this issue. Here is the problem... when did DARE become part of the school's curriculum? It was not included in any of the curriculums I followed or any other teachers. It was extra. Don't get me wrong.. the kids really enjoyed it, learned alot and got really cool shirts. But, the curriculum does not include instructors that do not have education degrees and are not certified to teach. I feel those classes should be monitored. Where was the instructor during the class? That would be the first question. I am sorry about the principal treating you that way. You certainly did not deserve that type of confrontation. It is really a shame that people act the way they do. I am grateful, however, that the officer was understanding and complied with your wishes. COMMON SENSE--that's all that we need. Unfortunately, it's not too common. The principal should have been much more helpful and understanding. I would definately write a letter concerning every discussion (documentation) and present it to the superintendent of schools.

GOD BE WITH YOU!!!

Jamie

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