Coping With Cancer

LHS teachers share their personal experiences


LHS Cosmetology teacher Leah Morgan and her sister, Lisa. Photo courtesy of Morgan.

Zaniya Clark, Staff Writer

A cancer diagnosis can devastate a patient and their families, but according to research, learning to cope with the diagnosis may help them through a challenging experience. Patients are often told to just stay positive, but it is a lot harder than some people make it seem, most people not having control over their thoughts or emotions at any moment, which was stated in an article posted by Stanford Medical Center.

Two Lancaster High School teachers shared their cancer experiences and agreed that staying positive and acknowledging gratitude is vital in dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Christina Falvo, a Spanish teacher at LHS was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year and has been coping with the disease for about a year now.  Her diagnosis has changed the way she approaches everyday life.

“My family and I have had to scale back on some of our activities due to my lower energy level and compromised immune system,” Falvo said.

Although she has to remain under the care of her doctor and take medication for the next several years to prevent a recurrence and adjust to intense fatigue, Falvo said that isn’t the most difficult aspect of her cancer.

“The hardest part was that my family, friends, colleagues, and students had to watch me go through it, but couldn’t do anything . . . losing my hair was emotional and surreal; realizing that my body was never going to be the same was devastating,” she said.

LHS Spanish teacher Christina Falvo.

“I am working on building my strength and overall health, but I have to be mindful not to do too much and set myself back,” she said.

When asked about how she copes with the disease and its effect on her life, Falvo offered sage advice.

“Stay as busy and active as you can,” she said.

“Learn to accept help when you need it and be sure to express gratitude. I have talked with friends who have been through breast cancer treatment and joined some online support groups as well as the LiveStrong class at the YMCA. I have tried to keep myself engaged in my family and work activities, but I’m learning to rest when I need to,” said Falvo.

Another LHS teacher, Leah Morgan described her shock when both she and her sister were diagnosed with different types of cancer within a year of each other.

“My twin sister, Lisa, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer nine months before I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. That news was terrible and unacceptable to me. My initial thought was we are supposed to live our lives together,” said Morgan.

Late July, Morgan was told that an MRI revealed a tumor on her kidney. While that may cause anyone great concern, Morgan said initially she was not as shocked as people would expect and that her major concern was for her sister’s life.

“It wasn’t a surprise to me because so many people are getting cancer in today’s world. But mine is fixable, Lisa’s is not at this time. I’m fighting for her.”

Morgan added that although her physical pain from the tumor was mostly in her lower back and stomach, emotionally her heart aches for her sister whose cancer causes her to suffer from sickness, weight loss, hair loss, and general pain in her entire body. Kidney cancer has an 80 percent survival rate, so Morgan mostly focuses her time on others to cope with her disease.

“Concentrating on someone else’s needs first helps me. My faith is strong,” said Morgan.  “All my life I questioned the path I was on and it led me to teach. I am so thankful and my students make me happy. They bring purpose to my life.”

Following the writing of this article, Morgan’s sister passed away. The Eye of the Gale staff offers deepest sympathies to Leah Morgan and her family.