Although Mountain View Middle School nurse Kathy Cook gave an inspiring and informative presentation on breast cancer awareness to students on Wednesday, what came after her presentation is what stole the show.
As a surprise to the nurse who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, students at the middle school choreographed an energetic dance to one of Cook’s favorite songs.
“I told Principal Monica Schut that my favorite song was ‘Happy’ by Pharell, and she just took that and ran with it,” said Cook. “I was blown away by the fact that everybody participated. I was definitely crying some happy tears by the end of their performance.”
During her presentation, Cook did not limit her discussion to breast cancer. The district nurse of 12 years also warned students about the severity of other cancers, including lung cancer, uterine cancer, and thyroid cancer, and reported that approximately 1.7 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year.
“Now I’m not trying to scare you guys even though it’s a really scary thing,” said Cook during her presentation on Wednesday. “You should not worry because there is early prevention and early diagnosis is great.”
The nurse urged students to constantly be aware of their own body, and in the event they find something suspicious—whether it is a little black mark or a lump—she instructed them to immediately tell a family member.
Her advice did not just pertain to students, however. Cook pressed her students to also look after their family members by reminding them to get mammograms or to go see a doctor regularly.
“I just want the students to be aware of their bodies and I want them to go home and talk to their families about it,” said Cook. “If anybody can be diagnosed early enough to stop cancer, then I’m happy.”
Cook was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 shortly after a scheduled mammogram. Oddly enough, her cancerous mass did not show up on the mammogram, but Cook detected a lump in her breast shortly after.
Cook’s gut told her something was wrong and after visiting her doctor, she found out that she had an aggressive type of cancer. The nurse told her students about the effects of chemotherapy, and how her experience has changed her overall.
“I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me, having cancer has really been a good thing in a lot of ways,” said Cook. “First off it has taught me not to waste time on things that are not important to me, so if I want to lie on the couch and watch football all day long with my son, then that is something I want to do.”