SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Former Suffolk school teacher Heather Cadorette has fought a brain tumor for more than a decade. And it’s not over yet.
12 years ago, she had surgery to remove the brain tumor. It grew back. Two weeks ago she underwent brain surgery for a second time.
Cadorette deals with the tumor like she deals with most of life’s difficulties, a little humor and a lot of positivity.
“If you don’t laugh, you’re just going to cry you know. So you have to make a decision to walk on the sunny side of life,” said Cadorette, her head still bandaged from her most recent surgery.
She says doctors discovered the tumor in 2007. Even with the insurance, the Cadorettes owed close to $100,000 for the first surgery. Because of the medical bills, they lost their home and had to file for bankruptcy.
She also couldn’t continue working in a job she loved, teaching biology at King’s Fork High School.
“300 new kids every year, and it was hard for me to remember names, let alone who told told me what. I don’t know if you know this, but teenagers will lie to you,” Cadorette added with a laugh. “I couldn’t keep track of people’s names, let alone what stories they told me.”
She was heartbroken, but determined to remain positive.
12 years later the tumor came back. And with it another giant medical bill. Her close friends and former colleagues say they refuse to watch history repeat itself.
“I saw her go through that and I want to support her in every way possible,” said Paula Bond, a longtime friend of Cadorette’s. “I’ll do everything I have to keep that from happening again.”
Her friends helped out before. In 2008 the teachers at King’s Fork High School kept glass jars on their desk to raise money, along with a variety of other fundraisers. With today’s technology and the power of social media, they say they have significantly more options to help their friend. So before the last surgery, Deborah Perry created a GoFundMe page.
“It does not make sense in a developed world in 2019 for a hard working family to be bankrupted from a medically necessary surgery,” said Perry. “If that’s the world we’re living in, I’m going to do everything I can to help.”
The tumor has taken Cadorette’s house, her financial security and her career. But it will never take her spirit. “You just gotta stay positive you know, I say if you don’t laugh, you’ll just cry all the time, so chose to laugh.”