Teachers making speedy recoveries from recent cancer surgeries

By: Zuhayr Alam

Two prominent CFHS teacher are making speedy recoveries over the past few weeks due to recent bouts with cancer: math teacher Rich Strike for prostate cancer and English teacher Scott Lawrence Richards for kidney cancer.

Lawrence-Richards underwent surgery on a kidney that began having issues, so naturally, he went in to get it fixed. However, during the surgery, the doctors noticed something else that should not be there.

“My kidney problem began over a year ago. I had been tested, scanned and had two biopsies done prior to my surgery,” Lawrence-Richards said. “It was during surgery that the doctors discovered the cancer.”

What was supposed to be a standard three-hour surgery turned into a strenuous six-hour procedure, but even though the scars have left him feeling like a survivor of an alien attack, he’s already back in class as of Wednesday, Dec. 9.

“It would be a cliche to say the robotic machine used in surgery looked like a spider, except that it did look like a spider. I have eight small incisions left in my abdomen, which are healing well, but it looks like I took shrapnel,” Lawrence-Richards said. “When the doctors discovered the cancer as a result of a biopsy done while I was still on the table, the protocol called for removal of the kidney.”

Senior Meghan Hackett, a student of Lawrence-Richards said she was shocked when she learned that the upbeat teacher would be undergoing a procedure.

“I was really surprised because Mr. Lawrence-Richards had been acting as if nothing was wrong all year.”

Now, of course,  Lawrence-Richard is happy to be back.

“I missed my classes most. I didn’t miss the meetings or the grading or the record keeping or the million daily emails, but I did miss being in front of my classes,” Lawrence-Richards said. “At the start of the semester, my students and I made a contract that said we’re going to be on the same ship this term. When I failed to be aboard for 12 days, I couldn’t help but feel I’d somehow let them down.”

Hackett is ecstatic to have Lawrence-Richards back in class.

“He provides a unique dynamic that I have never experienced with any other teacher,” Hackett said. “Not only do we learn a ton, but we have a great time doing so.”

In addition to Lawrence-Richards, Strike is also missing an extended period of time due to cancer recovery.

The military man and beloved teacher was officially diagnosed with prostate cancer just before school started in August.

“My initial reaction was one of shock,” Strike said. “But once that was over, my reaction transitioned to a ‘So, what’s next?’”

Luckily for Strike, the cancer was found in Stage 1, so the doctors knew exactly what they were dealing with and what the consequences would be.

“According to the surgeon, the procedure was uneventful,” Strike said. “I assumed that meant it went well.”

Senior Nathan Tesfa was surprised to hear of Strike’s cancer.

“I was dumbfounded,” Tesfa said. “He said it so matter-of-factly that it took a couple of seconds to comprehend what he had said.”

Before Strike left, Tesfa and many other staff and students showed him support because they were aware ahead of time of his struggle. This included T-shirts, wrist bands and fund raisers for a charity of Strike’s choice.

“It was an exceptional effort made by our classmates. I felt like there was something we should do, and I’m sure everyone else did to, so kudos to the people who came up with the idea,” Tesfa said. “It was a great show of support and everyone could participate.”

Strike is grateful for all of the support.

“This has been a long journey with many emotions. However, it has given me the chance to see firsthand how caring and thoughtful the CFHS family truly is,” Strike said. “That is something that my family and I will never forget.”

Lawrence-Richards shares Strike’s sentiment.

“I am grateful for the support and prayers of the faculty and my students. Everyone has been gracious and kind and loving in a way that is comforting and restorative,” Lawrence-Richards said. “I am fortunate to be a part of our school family.”STA_STA_CARTER_JANE STA_STA_LAWRENCE-RICHARDS_MR_SCOTT

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