Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Can I talk about this?

It's been a while since I've posted anything of meaning on this blog.  I was named Assistant Principal in my district in January of this year and as a matter of fact, it's been since then that I have said anything.  Not because of fear.  Not because I was so incredibly busy figuring out my new role that I didn't have time to blog, even though that would be a fair and pretty honest assessment.  As a matter of fact, I'm a man of analogies and the closest one I could come up with in my attempt to start my new role as an AP in the middle of the school year at a new school was like trying to start watching a trilogy in the middle of the second movie and trying to figure out what in the world is going on.  Anyways, since beginning as an AP 8 months ago it's been an amazingly exciting, flustering, rewarding and hardest 8 months of my life.

In January, the month I began my administrative career and more accurately, my last day as a 5th grade teacher my 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer.  It's taken me a while to feel comfortable enough to write about it here.  Mostly because I want this blog to be a reflection about my professional career and this subject is obviously, deeply personal.  However, today I had the opportunity to interact with fantastic leaders who are great bloggers and I vowed to get back into the game so as to grow professionally myself.  The conundrum I am facing though is how hard it is to think back on the last 8 months and not think about the most monumental event I've ever faced in my 32 years on this earth, supporting my 2 year old daughter as she went through and is going through cancer treatment.

I have to talk about it.  I have to get it off my chest.  I'm sorry.  My wife brought our daughter to her 2 year old "well visit".  Perfectly normal, perfectly (so we thought) healthy, beautiful, head full of blonde hair baby girl.  Normal.  During the examination of her abdomen, the doc felt a mass above her liver.  Suggested we take her in to get an ultra sound.  My wife immediately sets up an appointment to have the area scanned.  Confirmed, large mass growing off her liver.  Next appointment is with an Oncologist at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.  We didn't know what to think.  What is this thing in our babies stomach.  It can't be bad.  It has to be a benign mass.  The oncologist says it looks like Hepatoblastoma, a rare malignant mass that grows from the liver, can spread to the lymph nodes and lungs.  His words, "It looks like your daughter has cancer."  I will not go into the details of what was going through my mind and the very difficult and very private conversations I had with my wife.  One question, of many, was, "What's next?"  Surgery came to remove the mass, which by the way was about the size of a softball.  Clean resection.  Removed surrounding lymph nodes, no indication that cancer had spread.  Nothing in the lungs.  Spent a week of recovery in the hospital, she handled it like a champ.  Started the first of 4 cycles of chemotherapy the following week.  She made it through those cycles with relatively few incidents.  She lost most of her hair, got sick, lost a lot of weight but she made it through.  Next came the follow up CT scan to make sure nothing was left.  Our next worst nightmare of our lives came true.  A spot was growing in her lung, it appears the cancer has spread.  From Stage 2 to Stage 4.  Not a death sentence the doctor told us.  This girl is too amazing for it to be.  Spot was successfully removed from her lung, another week of recovery in the hospital and we have begun the first of 2 more, even more intense, rounds of chemotherapy.  So far, we've had a few road bumps but it's going pretty well.  She feels good and for the most part, acts like a normal 2 year old.

There.  I said it and I can move on, for the most part, in my reflections that I hope will allow me to grow as a person, an educator, and a leader.  It's impossible for this situation not to be one of the main, if not the main, driving force in my life right now so I apologize in advance for any future mentions (I'll make them brief) of this.

I've always put kids first in my professional life and will continue to do so.  I will continue to pour my heart and soul into my work and will continue to learn how to be the best administrator I can be.  I am THRILLED to be STARTING a school year in this role and to welcome those students back on the quickly approaching first day.  I am fortunate enough to be able to say and do that because I have the strongest, bravest, most amazingly resilient 2 and a half year old cancer fighter for me to go home to.


  1. I have no words except to say that I am incredibly proud to know you. You and your family are an inspiration for us all. Hugs.

  2. Sheryl SanguinettiJuly 28, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Your words, your pictures, your story, Avery's story, the story of two incredible parents and one precious, vivacious little girl, have touched my heart and soul more than I could ever express in words. Thank you so, so much for sharing your journey. Much love to you all.

  3. Ben, We are fortunate to have you among the ranks. It's our human connection that makes us successful at this job, thanks for sharing your story. Your baby girl is beautiful.