South Kern Sol, News Report, Lynette Layus
Back in 2011, Arvin High School’s 11th grade history teacher, Kimberly Lee, was diagnosed with non-genetic breast cancer. She says the four years that have passed since her diagnosis have been filled with learning opportunities.
“One of the most important things is to have a good support system and to stay positive,” she said. “There’s a lot of negative that comes with diagnosis and treatment. Trying to stay positive throughout the day can get you through.”
When the Arvin High community learned of her diagnosis, students rallied behind breast cancer awareness and research causes to support their teacher.
A group of students sold pink bracelets proclaiming “WE LOVE MISS LEE,” and donated the proceeds towards the Bakersfield “Links For Life” organization, which promotes breast cancer awareness and provide services for women who are coping with cancer. The first year the Arvin High’s student group raised $300 from their bracelet fundraiser, later raising $5,000 for Links for Life with T-shirt sales.
“I love that Arvin High does not just wear the color, but makes it a cause for a cure,” Lee said. “This year Arvin High School received an anonymous donation of $1,000 and a donation of $500 from the school’s FFA [Future Farmers of America] from their earnings of their stock [for Links for Life]. The school’s baseball team also fundraised pink hats and donated their earnings.”
Lee, whose cancer is now in remission, added that the fundraiser was also to “honor and show support for an Arvin High English teacher whose wife passed early this month from breast cancer.”
Lee has been an active member in the Links for Life chapter ever since her doctor suggested she join four years ago. She meets with her support group once a month for discussions and to plan fundraisers and events.
Lee said that while getting a cancer diagnosis is scary, “We have amazing doctors and access to medication and treatments that are comparable anywhere in the United States.”
The history teacher offered advice for someone receiving a diagnosis, most importantly to “be their own advocate.”
“They should not be afraid to ask questions and ask for opinions,” she said, “I’d tell the caregivers to be as supportive and positive as possible, even if it’s not easy.”
For more information about Bakersfield Links for Life please visit www.linksforlife.org or call (661) 322-5601.