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Grațiela Căvescu - Lessons for life

Author: Gratiela Cavescu

I have been a teacher at the National High School "Vlaicu Voda" for over 25 years. My goal is to turn mirrors into windows! I have always tried to inspire students to learn. I want to encourage their creative thinking skills, shape their character and mold their personality. It's all part of that mission. And sometimes I've helped students pursue careers as economists or lawyers, other times I've helped them build their self-esteem and provided moral support in solving life problems. For others, unfortunately, I was nothing more than a teacher.

My mission was blocked in May 2010 when I realized what injustice is.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and after the operation I was missing an important part of my body! I felt fear, anger, sadness and rage. I felt unfairly treated: My mother had only been cured of the same disease for a year, and I had regular check-ups that went well.

What happened next? A treatment plan. Simple, right? But it's not... the fight is just beginning: strength, the power of positive thinking, the belief in the success of the treatment is the most important structure of the healing plan. And I decided to fight and learn the lessons that make change happen!

During the 9 months of treatment, I realized how important it is to be supported!

Family, friends, buddies, doctors, ordinary people were close to me! The students from 2008-2012 visited me during my treatment, sent me encouraging messages and were there for me unconditionally! And I learned a lesson: get involved! Help those who have no support!

When I returned to working life, I volunteered in various associations. I teach my students the lesson of volunteering: I have been coordinating the volunteer team at my college for 10 years. During the Christmas vacations, we put together presents for disadvantaged children from the little we collect. We are Santa Claus, who puts a smile on the faces of children who have been through a lot with a toy donated by the students, and we greet Santa with a song or a play to thank him for his efforts. It's not easy, but the joy of children who have so little of life motivates us and energizes us to find the means to inspire others to become meaningful!

Some people empathize with our ideas, others choose to ignore us! And, even though years have passed since that time I will never forget that one cold, snowless winter I chose to teach the lesson of volunteering to employees of a state institution. And I wanted Santa to bring rich gifts to the children and I asked for their support! I only received 2 gifts and 30 children were not going to have a gift. I was disappointed, I felt powerless. But, I accepted their lack of empathy and realized that these people needed volunteer education!

Since then, year after year, I have organized the team of students who run after-school activities for children at the socio-educational counseling center "ACCES" Curtea de Argeș. We offer the children support to improve their school performance, but above all we play with them, we talk, we are a family!

We show everyone that we can make a difference together!

After 2010, specialized medical examinations at regular intervals, fear, sometimes panic, feelings relived through the memories disturb my hard-earned peace of mind! I am not alone:

I have my family by my side. We are pleased with very good results, sometimes further investigations are needed, but the end of the investigation period has always been a reason to celebrate.

But all this has helped me to learn another lesson: health education is a must! And so I decided to talk openly with my students about cancer, prevention and screening! And some of them listen to me in amazement, others are indifferent, but in an education system that does not pay attention to these life lessons, it needs a "different school".

The cause of my illness was explained as stress, poor diet and genetics. I have learned to live a healthy lifestyle: diet, proper nutrition, exercise, energy. All of this can be taught to students. What stress is, what causes it and, above all, what effects the cortisone released by stress has on our bodies and how we can manage these symptoms. All of these are topics that should complement the health education of students in a school that prepares teenagers for adult life. Change happens through people and for people! Health education is not only for pupils. So I accepted the invitation to participate in the first meeting of the support group for cancer patients organized by the oncologist of the Curtea de Argeș municipal hospital.

We discussed genetics, healing family trauma, intrinsic motivation and the power of the self, the injustices of the medical system, but most of all, how important it is for us cancer patients to feel the love of those around us!

What I'm trying to tell you is this: at one point in my life I felt wronged, but that I chose to change and tell my story! Through empathy, vulnerability, volunteering lessons and the desire to do good around me.

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