Courtney Spencer is a seventh-grade teacher at Mabank ISD. She teaches reading and writing and is also a wife to her husband, Scott and a mother of three children. Beloved by her family, community and coworkers she is often the person willing to go above and beyond to help someone. Courtney was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma of the right breast June 9, 2020 and has fought an entire year against breast cancer.
Courtney is not alone in her fight and has an astounding support system comprised of her husband, Scott, her three children, Weston, Russell and Michael and numerous other people helping her pave the way to recovery.
Courtney’s journey with cancer began in 2019 when she noticed soreness in her right breast.
“I had noticed some pain in my right breast. I knew it was probably needing to be checked out. It was just soreness and I didn’t think much of it. I changed bras thinking it was the wire. By December 2019, I noticed there was a lump. Being a teacher, my family comes first then my classroom. I planned to have the knot checked out on the next school break which would be in March. December 2019 was a big month for Courtney, she celebrated her 40th birthday on Christmas Day.
Now, one year later, Courtney continues to face the battle and fight the war on breast cancer.
‘One year ago,’...those three words bring many memories to each of us in a different way,” said Courtney. “To me, it is a reminder of the cancer I am fighting. July of 2020 had nothing to do with a pandemic, it was a fight that cancer started, one that it is not winning. In August 2020, I told the doctors that a mastectomy is what I wanted, to rid my body of the breasts that were trying to kill me. In September 2020, I began chemotherapy that took its toll on me just after the third round. I lost my hair, my strength and sometimes my breakfast. This was not the end though, the cancer had spread to my bones - my hips, my spine and it brought pain like I had never felt. My treatment changed at this point. My amazing oncology team at Texas Oncology held my hand, along with my husband’s, as we came to terms that I was considered Stage Four, I moved on to live with cancer. The medications Ibrance and Letrozole are part of what keeps me going inside. My immune system is compromised and not able to fight against much of anything but I have been blessed to only have suffered from one rough battle with strep. ‘One year ago’ seems like a lifetime ago. My life has changed, but it has not ended.”
Blessings in the form of family, coworkers and a stellar support system help keep Courtney motivated and upbeat.
“I went back to work on a light schedule at Mabank Junior High where my work family greeted me with open arms every day of the week. I am welcomed to my classroom daily by the smiles of my beautiful students who never fail to amaze me with the drive to learn every day. I am encouraged daily by former students who stop to visit, call to check on me or email me and then run to hug me when we see each other out in the community. My family has grown spiritually and we have a couple of new blessings in the form of girlfriends for my older sons. They came in the picture as two tumors disappeared from my spine, being much more of a blessing than they realize. My hair continues to grow, thick and curly; this is a change from the straight thin hair I used to have. The red coloring God had blessed me with is now a beautiful chocolate brown. The curls wrap around my face and head, reminding me of the halo God has given me.
Cancer. The one word no one expects to hear or wants to hear.
Cancer. The one disease that can take a life in days.
Cancer. The one thing that can be prevented with early detection, in most cases.
Cancer. A word that changes lives...It can change a life for better or worse. For me, it has been for the better. It has changed my life in ways that I never expected. I have reconnected with God, my family, myself. I am living my best life and cancer jumped on for the ride of its life. I have cancer, it doesn’t have me,” said Courtney.