Skip to main content

Can I talk about this?

It's been a while since I've posted anything of meaning on this blog.  I was named Assistant Principal in my district in January of this year and as a matter of fact, it's been since then that I have said anything.  Not because of fear.  Not because I was so incredibly busy figuring out my new role that I didn't have time to blog, even though that would be a fair and pretty honest assessment.  As a matter of fact, I'm a man of analogies and the closest one I could come up with in my attempt to start my new role as an AP in the middle of the school year at a new school was like trying to start watching a trilogy in the middle of the second movie and trying to figure out what in the world is going on.  Anyways, since beginning as an AP 8 months ago it's been an amazingly exciting, flustering, rewarding and hardest 8 months of my life.

In January, the month I began my administrative career and more accurately, my last day as a 5th grade teacher my 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer.  It's taken me a while to feel comfortable enough to write about it here.  Mostly because I want this blog to be a reflection about my professional career and this subject is obviously, deeply personal.  However, today I had the opportunity to interact with fantastic leaders who are great bloggers and I vowed to get back into the game so as to grow professionally myself.  The conundrum I am facing though is how hard it is to think back on the last 8 months and not think about the most monumental event I've ever faced in my 32 years on this earth, supporting my 2 year old daughter as she went through and is going through cancer treatment.

I have to talk about it.  I have to get it off my chest.  I'm sorry.  My wife brought our daughter to her 2 year old "well visit".  Perfectly normal, perfectly (so we thought) healthy, beautiful, head full of blonde hair baby girl.  Normal.  During the examination of her abdomen, the doc felt a mass above her liver.  Suggested we take her in to get an ultra sound.  My wife immediately sets up an appointment to have the area scanned.  Confirmed, large mass growing off her liver.  Next appointment is with an Oncologist at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.  We didn't know what to think.  What is this thing in our babies stomach.  It can't be bad.  It has to be a benign mass.  The oncologist says it looks like Hepatoblastoma, a rare malignant mass that grows from the liver, can spread to the lymph nodes and lungs.  His words, "It looks like your daughter has cancer."  I will not go into the details of what was going through my mind and the very difficult and very private conversations I had with my wife.  One question, of many, was, "What's next?"  Surgery came to remove the mass, which by the way was about the size of a softball.  Clean resection.  Removed surrounding lymph nodes, no indication that cancer had spread.  Nothing in the lungs.  Spent a week of recovery in the hospital, she handled it like a champ.  Started the first of 4 cycles of chemotherapy the following week.  She made it through those cycles with relatively few incidents.  She lost most of her hair, got sick, lost a lot of weight but she made it through.  Next came the follow up CT scan to make sure nothing was left.  Our next worst nightmare of our lives came true.  A spot was growing in her lung, it appears the cancer has spread.  From Stage 2 to Stage 4.  Not a death sentence the doctor told us.  This girl is too amazing for it to be.  Spot was successfully removed from her lung, another week of recovery in the hospital and we have begun the first of 2 more, even more intense, rounds of chemotherapy.  So far, we've had a few road bumps but it's going pretty well.  She feels good and for the most part, acts like a normal 2 year old.

There.  I said it and I can move on, for the most part, in my reflections that I hope will allow me to grow as a person, an educator, and a leader.  It's impossible for this situation not to be one of the main, if not the main, driving force in my life right now so I apologize in advance for any future mentions (I'll make them brief) of this.

I've always put kids first in my professional life and will continue to do so.  I will continue to pour my heart and soul into my work and will continue to learn how to be the best administrator I can be.  I am THRILLED to be STARTING a school year in this role and to welcome those students back on the quickly approaching first day.  I am fortunate enough to be able to say and do that because I have the strongest, bravest, most amazingly resilient 2 and a half year old cancer fighter for me to go home to.


  1. I have no words except to say that I am incredibly proud to know you. You and your family are an inspiration for us all. Hugs.

  2. Sheryl SanguinettiJuly 28, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Your words, your pictures, your story, Avery's story, the story of two incredible parents and one precious, vivacious little girl, have touched my heart and soul more than I could ever express in words. Thank you so, so much for sharing your journey. Much love to you all.

  3. Ben, We are fortunate to have you among the ranks. It's our human connection that makes us successful at this job, thanks for sharing your story. Your baby girl is beautiful.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Braden Bin - 3/4/16

What I'm Reading - Election Guide:  5 Education Takeaways From the Presidential Candidates 
Juuuuuust in case you are as confused as I am on who to vote for, EdWeek put out a nice election guide for us education minded folks.  When it seems as if the candidates speak about everything other than education, it's nice to know that each has their own version of a "plan".  
What I'm Reading (Bonus) -  So, Google's up to something again and this one I am VERY excited about.  Think of the implications this could have on education.  On igniting that fire in our kids for reading!  I can't wait to try it!  What I'm Watching - Plato's Allegory of the Cave by Alex Gendler

I think this video draws some very interesting parallels to our current political system.  I particularly like the quote, "Most people are not just comfortable in their ignorance but hostile to anyone who points it out.""As we go about our lives, can we be confident in what we thi…

Attention Seeker

As an educational leader, there are times throughout the day that I feel like if there were two or three of me, we could actually be getting some things done.  Whether it is responding to emails, attending meetings on and off campus, meeting with teachers or students and doing whatever else comes up throughout the day (I had to remove a dead cockroach from the staff bathroom last Tuesday), it becomes increasingly hard to attend to the task at hand.

Maybe it's just me as I've struggled with attention issues my whole life but I have to think there must be other educators out there who feel the same way.

You are in an ARD meeting, it's 2:00 pm and you know there's a parent phone call you HAVE to make before the bell rings and there's a teacher who needs your support with a student and the last time you checked your email, right before going to the ARD, you noticed Inbox 64, and you just got a call on your radio that there's ANOTHER cockroach in the staff restroo…

Identity First, Then Culture

First, allow me to get this outta the way, real quick like.  

I am, unabashedly, an Indiana University basketball fan to the core of my being.  I grew up in Indiana and in Indiana, if you were raised right, you were raised to be an IU fan.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of my lifetime, they haven't been that great.  I don't remember the national championship in 1987, I was only 4.  

Recently they hired Archie Miller from Dayton University who is known for defense and toughness.  A "grind it out" culture if you will.  He gave an interview  (here) and in the interview, he mentioned something about culture that struck a chord with me this morning.  

“The big thing is to create the first identity opportunity,” Miller said. “Not culture.” I stopped Miller there. Coaches love talking about culture – it might be the most popular buzzword in the profession today. What’s with the avoidance? “I think culture is earned,” he said. “You don’t start talking about culture four weeks …