Spaghetti dinner for a Stambaugh teacher
By Amanda Tonoli
Stambaugh Charter Academy wrapped its arms around family member and special-education teacher Erin Boucher by hosting a spaghetti dinner in her honor.
Boucher was recently diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer after finding a lump in her breast in October.
“I went directly to the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center,” Boucher said. “At first I was told that it was Stage II and totally curable, but after I had a bone scan and a CT scan, it went from being a [Stage] II to a [Stage] IV.”
In addition, Boucher said on an aggressiveness scale from 1 to 3, she was also told that it was a 3.
Doctors at the Joanie Abdu Center “said ‘There’s really nothing we can do for you. We can’t do surgery for [Stage] IV, but we are going to send some stuff to the Cleveland Clinic and get a second opinion,’” Boucher remembers.
Boucher went from despair with a death sentence – the doctors only gave her six months to a year to live – to hope when she got a call back.
“Within a couple hours, I had an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic,” she said. “The doctor there said since it didn’t spread to any organs that they would treat it as a 2 or 3 on the aggressive scale and hope for a cure at the end.”
After some relief the Cleveland Clinic would treat her, Boucher experienced an “outpouring of love” from her Stambaugh family, said intervention specialist teacher and friend Sandy Kelty-Mislevy.
This outpouring resulted in the creation of a takeout $5 spaghetti dinner, salad, bread and a piece of cake.
Also available was the opportunity to buy tickets for a basket raffle.
As soon as it was suggested, Kelty-Mislevy said teachers and administrators jumped at the chance to be involved.
“Everyone was just more than willing to help once we got the ball rolling,” she said. “We were all making sure [Boucher] knows she’s loved. We’re a family, and we take care of our own.”
Students also played a part in fundraising by buying pink bracelets in support of breast cancer awareness, as well as bagging bread for the actual dinner.
“We just have such a wonderful, embracing family here at Stambaugh,” Kelty-Mislevy said. “There’s just such a good feeling in this building. Our teachers are special. I’ve never met a group of people more willing to give people the shirts off their backs.”
But what motivates Kelty-Mislevy the most also elicits the most emotion from her.
“This is just so important because I want to make sure, just in case Boucher doesn’t have many more Christmases, she knows she was loved so much,” she said tearfully.
Boucher said she’s touched by everyone’s willingness to help, especially since she just started working at the school this past August.
“Everyone here is just amazing,” she said. “It blows my mind. They’ve donated all this food and 37 baskets for [an] auction. ... People have been offering to go to treatments with me and go to doctor with me. It’s probably the best place I’ve ever worked.”
Boucher will have to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and surgery after.
And she is more than willing to fight. Boucher is expecting her first grandchild in April, and she wants to see the baby.
“Everyone has just been so wonderful, it makes me want to beat this even more,” Boucher said.