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A Decade of Courage: Mrs. Metz’s Last Day of Cancer Treatment

Caroline Gerber
Mrs. Metz pictured with flowers, decorations, and baked goods celebrating her last day of treatment.

Many people know Mrs. Metz as the face of the Math Resource Center. She is cheerful, uplifting, and always ready and willing to help. However, what some may not know is that Mrs. Metz is a 10-year cancer survivor.

At the recommended age, Metz had her first mammogram and the results came back negative. A year later at her next mammogram screening, however, doctors discovered stage two breast cancer.

“It was surreal. When I found out I was getting a manicure and the doctor called and told me that my life would change forever at that point,” Metz said.

Hearing the news of her diagnosis, she was devastated and burst into tears on the drive home.

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“For two weeks I went from doctor to doctor and appointment to appointment for additional testing,” Metz said.

These tests revealed that the breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and her doctors informed her that this diagnosis required an aggressive treatment regimen consisting of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and medication.

Mrs. Metz and her husband (Courtesy of Elaine Metz).

“Before undergoing chemo I was devastated that I would lose my hair, and looking back now in the grand scheme of things I knew it was gonna come back,” said Metz. “My husband had to shave my head, and I was crying through the whole thing, but I learned not to wrap myself up in things I can’t change.”

For 16 weeks Metz underwent chemo, with six weeks of radiation.

Throughout the course of her treatment, she continued teaching, part-time in Evanston, while continuing to care for her then 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.

“I was really really tired, but I still worked and took care of my kids.”

During her treatment, Metz said she relied on the support of friends, family, and neighbors.

“I hired a woman to come take care of my daughter who has a disability, and she would spend time with her and help me because I wasn’t able to do everything,” said Metz.

Mrs. Metz with her husband, daughter, and son during chemotherapy (Courtesy of Elaine Metz).

Metz decided to undergo a double mastectomy to remove the cancer. The operation was successful and the doctors declared her to be cancer-free. However, out of caution to prevent the cancer from returning she continued with treatment by taking medication for the last ten years.

On April 2, LFHS held a day of celebration in honor of Metz’s last day of cancer treatment after ten years.

Many students and staff members wore pink in honor of Metz. Pink-themed decorations were on display in the Math Resource Center and baked goods were handed out in celebration.

Metz’s co-worker in the MRC, Mr. James Mergl said, “Every year, we highlight breast cancer awareness, but this makes it personal for so many in the community.”

Other LFHS staff members shared the same sentiment.

“Because she has been so willing to share her journey with all of us. She helped me not worry so much about my sister who was going through the same type of cancer surgery that Elaine went through,” HRC supervisor Mrs. Kathleen Eikenberry said. “She helped us all feel comfortable talking about the issue of cancer and shared that the fight against cancer is indeed a struggle but that it’s worth it.”

Mrs. Metz and her family at a cancer awareness race (Courtesy of Elaine Metz).

Metz was overjoyed with the outpouring of support she received on her last day of treatment celebration.

“I am so thankful to everyone who organized it and all those who wore pink and all the students who came in to wish me well. I really felt like a queen… I felt loved, supported, and appreciated.”

Reflecting on overcoming adversity and surviving her battle with cancer Metz said, “I now really believe that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. My philosophy was one day at a time. I didn’t think about getting to this moment. I thought about every week just getting through the chemo, getting through the radiation.”

Metz’s cancer story has brought about a greater sense of awareness and understanding, as well as providing hope and inspiration for others.

“Her perseverance and toughness undoubtedly inspire many people, particularly young women, to never fear taking every small step towards self-improvement,” said MRC staff member Ms. Liuxuan Gao.

Mrs. Metz’s final take away from her journey with cancer is to never doubt what one is capable of and to be grateful for all the blessings to be experienced in life.

“I am really just proud that I was able to get through it,” Metz said. “What I have really learned from this is that I do not take things for granted anymore.”

This story was originally published on The Forest Scout on April 11, 2024.