Counselor draws upon ‘incredible’ support in her ongoing fight against cancer

“…life will throw you lemons, and you just keep on swinging and makin’ lemonade.” 

“It was just a lot of ‘Holy crap!’ and I can’t believe this is happening. Honestly, some disbelief,” counselor Amy Denholm said.

Finding out she had colon cancer and it had spread to her liver and lungs was not what this 45-year-old mom ever expected for herself, but Denholm said she is feeling great and has an amazing support system between her family at home and her family at school.

Denholm was officially diagnosed May 23 of last school year, but she and her family knew they would be facing something tough far before that.

Toward the end of last school year, the district had offered blood screening tests to the faculty, and Denholm said she decided to take it because she had been feeling run down and something could’ve been going on with her thyroid.

“I had no symptoms. I was just really tired, but other than that, I had no idea.”

When her results came back, some of her liver numbers indicated something else was going on within her body.

Denholm said she went straight to her family doctor and took another round of the same blood tests, and from then, her liver numbers were even worse.

“That was when it all started to snowball. One day I was having an ultrasound on my abdomen, and three days later I had a CT scan, then a colonoscopy and that’s when they knew,” Denholm said.

Denholm’s biggest emotion throughout the process of finding out what was going on in her body was shock.

“I was ultimately shocked. It’s hard to describe when somebody you don’t really know, sits in front of you and tells you have colon cancer and you know that isn’t good,” she said.

Since finding out, Denholm said after her surgery for a port in her chest in order to start chemo therapy, she is finally taking control, taking steps forward and is ready to fight this battle.

“Once I got that in, I felt that I was finally moving forward. I started to feel a little bit more empowered than having things around me control me, and honest to goodness, I’m back to me.”

Denholm said it ultimately wasn’t her plan to return back to school because as she refers to herself, she is a “rookie” and did not know if she would be able to due to doing chemo therapy.

“I didn’t know how this thing goes and if I would be able to come back because of my treatments.”

But she did come back for the last few professional development days and is back better than ever for this school year.

“I needed to be back. I needed to be around people,” she said.

Denholm said after her first few treatments, she felt very good and took them well enough that she wanted to come back to school, she said she wanted to be at work and be there with her school family and students.

“I honestly wanted to show my students that life will throw you lemons, and you just keep on swinging and makin’ lemonade.”

She said she also knew by being back in the school, she would receive open arms of strength from her counseling team, the staff and students. Denholm said that being back and surrounded by everyone has been the best therapy.

“Even on the tough, bad days, that is definitely a boost for me.”

Denholm said the outpouring of support from the staff, students, the district and beyond has been amazing and brought her to tears.

“It’s overwhelmingly good. The amount of love and support is incredible,” she said.

Whether it be cards, emails, Facebook messages or people popping into her office, Denholm said it warms her heart more than people can even realize.

This last summer, Denholm shared that she wasn’t able to attend her class reunion, and a good friend of hers organized a big card for everyone to sign, and it was sent to her by her classmates.

“It’s those little surprises. It was wonderful. People have been wonderful and my family of all,” she said.

As of right now, Denholm is still going through chemotherapy, and she said everything has been going well.

She was out last week sick because of a bad, allergic reaction to the chemotherapy, but the doctors got her back on track, and she said everything is going great and she is thankful for that.

“The first eight treatments went well, but the ninth wasn’t the greatest because of that reaction, but the doctors changed course, and I was back a few days later.”

Denholm said she really wants to emphasize that life is short and people should spend a lot of time in life, supporting each other.

“That has nothing to do with me, but maybe a realization I’ve come to think of. Everybody is fighting a fight that you don’t know, and we need to treat with everybody with respect.”

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