VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The classroom is her home. But cancer almost kept her from doing what she loves: inspiring young minds. Our series of Courage To Come Back profiles continues with more from the recipient in the Medical category.
Ingrid Bates of Abbotsford already had a lot going on: the then-mother of two decided to go back to university in her 40s to become a schoolteacher. Then the phone call came.
“On my very last day of classes, I arrived home to get the message from my doctor, that I had breast cancer,” she recalls.
She underwent a mastectomy, radiation, and then chemotherapy. She finished her schooling during treatment, but then two years into her career, she was hit with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, an uncommon side effect of the chemo.
“Many people don’t know this,” she points out, “but at times you can get cancer from the treatment that you have for cancer.”
But cancer wouldn’t keep her out of the classroom long.
“Within about eight months after being diagnosed with leukemia I was back teaching,” she says. “I taught one block every day of Math 9 and it was good just to get out of the house and get going.”
Today, Ingrid spreads awareness of breast cancer in a number of ways, including as a member of the Spirit Abreast dragon boat team. “It is an honour and a privilege to share my story and to help others know that you can do it, you can get through whatever it is that’s ailing you.”
Ingrid’s fight continues. Her latest challenge is Graft vs Host Disease, as her body reacts to a stem cell transplant.
“It’s kind of like rejection, when you have an organ transplant,” she explains. “It’s like these cells have been planted behind enemy lines.”
But Ingrid pushes on. And she encourages others to do the same. “Hit it straight on and do what you have to do. Remember that there’s always tomorrow.”
The grandmother of eight, who is now working on a Master’s in Education, says she’s simply too busy to let cancer keep her down. “I’ve got too many things to do!”
You could say she’s another example of having the Courage To Come Back.