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Blue Valley teacher still in class after stage 4 cancer diagnosis

Blue Valley teacher stays in classroom after stage 4 cancer diagnosis
Posted at 1:50 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 19:39:36-05

OVERLAND PARK, KS — A Blue Valley High School teacher has made the decision to stay in the classroom after receiving her stage four breast cancer diagnosis.

Kathryn Sanfle teaches Spanish, but she’s also taking time to teach students about living with perspective.

"This is going to be something that's going to affect me in this room for the rest of my teaching career,” Sanfle said. “Pretending like I'm fine and ignoring it isn't really helpful for me or for them."

Sanfle said she is determined to continue teaching every day that her health allows her to.

"To imagine the day that I have to give this up, because it will happen, is tough because there will be a time when I'm not well enough to do this job anymore," she said. "I hope to be able to choose. I don't know that I will get that."

Until that day comes, Sanfle said she is not letting any time at Blue Valley High School go to waste.

“I think part of what brings me joy and fills my life is connection with people," Sanfle said. “At this point, I am doing this job for me."

Sanfle also continues to plan future lessons she said she hopes will stick with her students.

"I sure hope that given different circumstances that I would still be someone who students would remember," she said.

Sanfle on kids and teaching

At home with her family, Sanfle is doing the same thing: living for the day, and planning for her last.

"It is very easy for me to imagine this is the last XYZ,” Sanfle said. “I'll never get a haircut again, you know? It's just one of those things, like that part of my life is over. But I don't have to live in the agony of it because I want to suck the joy out of it."

The cancer is in several spots in Sanfle's skeleton: her liver, lungs, and now, the lining of her brain.

She and her husband made the difficult decision to tell their three sons. It was time.

"It's like a virus that you can get and sometimes you can get it in your bones," 9-year-old Antonio Sanfle said.

"I ask questions like, um, sometimes I do like, I think you might die when I'm like 18, or 15, or something," 7-year-old Milo Sanfle said.

Sanfle said it wasn't an option to keep them in the dark.

"Cancer is gonna kill mommy someday,” Sanfle said. “I don't want them to be caught off guard when it does."

Sanfle on telling her kids

So the family is capturing moments that will last.

"I want to take a video with you after your baseball game, where we're in it together, and I'm telling you how proud I am of you,” Sanfle said. “Because I want you to be able to watch it, when I'm not physically there to tell you anymore."

She's journaling too, with a book for each of her boys.

"What I think Tonio's gonna need to hear when he turns 21, is not the same thing I think Enzo's going to need to hear when he turns 21," Sanfle said.

She's also keeping boxes with things like special plates, and money for life's milestones.

"I gave them each $20 bucks for their first drink when they turn 21, so that I could be the one to buy it for them," Sanfle said.

Sanfle fills her days with thoughts and plans for a future that her children, and her students, will have and she likely won't.

She knows it's time well spent.

"I may not get to choose how many more days I get on this planet, but for today, I get to choose what my outlook is," Sanfle said.

“The clock ticks a little softer in my head on those days," she said.

The Sanfle family is set to leave for Disney World after Thanksgiving. The trip was paid for with donations made by friends and supporters at Blue Valley High School.