A persevering spirit

Positive attitude helps substitute keep going despite diagnosis

Story by Victoria Van, entertainment editor

A pain ripples through her back, wincing as she regains her balance. The familiar, dreaded sensation takes over and she recalls her memories filled with an inescapable twinge of sorrow. She knows the feeling of constant battle between her body and mind for the third time with a vicious obstacle rising: cancer.

One of the most loved faculty members on campus, Ms. Suzanne Voltz, is experiencing terminal cancer after  having uterine cancer twice. Voltz currently has tumors in her lungs, spine, liver and pelvic area, all of which have remained stable except the tumors inside her stomach area. Every three weeks on Monday, Voltz undergoes a rigorous chemotherapy treatment for 5 and a half hours in an attempt to lessen the size of the tumors.

“I was diagnosed with a tumor the size of a football. It was pressing on my spine which was making my back hurt. When the doctors ran the CT scan, they confirmed that the tumor is in my pelvic area. They’re inoperable thus far but the doctors are trying to shrink my football-sized tumor.”

In retrospect, Voltz had anticipated the returning illness months before a professional diagnosis because of previous battles against uterine cancer.

“I found out about my cancer earlier this year in May. I’ve been feeling badly since before Christmas time. I have experienced uterine cancer twice and overcame that less than 20 years ago,” Voltz said. “The first time I took chemotherapy, they removed the tumors. After 14 years, the cancer came back. The second time, I had my uterus removed and then it came back; 16 years later and this time it’s cervical cancer.”

When Voltz realized her cancer returned, she was in the midst of a long term substitute assignment and maintaining her normal lifestyle progressively became difficult throughout the first few months. Yet, Voltz consistently fulfills her promises when it comes to substitute assignments.

“It was tough taking the long term sub assignment. I accepted it before I knew I was sick. Once I make a commitment, my word is my bond,” Voltz said. “It was brutal because I didn’t feel well and was just now starting my medication. The illness was causing me to not have an appetite, but I made it, and I keep persevering because it’s what anyone in my situations needs to do.”

Students around campus welcome Voltz whenever she arrives for a substitute assignment and greet her with open arms. Voltz takes time to appreciate her students and regards the positivity as a much needed boost of support during this phase of her life.

“Being around students has helped me cope with what I’m going through because people are so friendly,” Voltz said. “The students here are like the kids I never had and I like this age group, especially the more mature students. Every day I love coming to school and I have a special connection to this place. I’ve visited these halls since my high school days and I always come back.”

Reflecting on how far she has trekked through her battle, Voltz contributes most of her perseverance by maintaining a mindset of an encouraging individual who never lets a negative obstacle dampen her overall attitude.

“A lot of what has gotten me through the experience is keeping a positive attitude. This time it’s a lot worse. I’m terminal now so I have to keep a smile on my face and be strong in the face of adversity,” Voltz said. “I would advise them to keep a smile on their face and not be sad. They could be a miracle. I could be a miracle. You never know until it’s your time.”