By Natalie Joniec Throughout life you are told to be kind to others because you do not know the battles they are facing and it never hurts to be kind. This is one thing that always remains true. For one woman, she made a very special list pertaining to what is truly important in life. Her name is Regina Brett and she made this list the night before her 45th birthday, after being diagnosed with breast cancer. These lessons she lists became viral over the last few years and the journalism students at Thurston high school shared this list with many teachers. The responses pulled at our heart strings.
We often forget that our teachers have many amazing stories to learn from. Economics teacher James McKenzie said, “One of the lessons that stood out to me was number 26. What other people think of you is none of your business. Here is why: my life is meant to be lived to the full. In the past, and sometimes now, I struggle with living out of the fear of: ‘What will others think of me?’ I have begun to wonder why I make life decisions based off what others think. Maybe it is because I judge others so quickly, I am afraid of what others will think of me. When I am quick to pass judgment on others, I find that I am more insecure. When I am more loving, I find that I live in freedom. Like I said, I want to live a life to the full. I can have confidence in who God says that I am, that I am wonderfully made. The more I simply love others, and stop judging, the less fear I have. Besides, what other people think of me is none of my business.”
That is a wonderful lesson to live. One teacher who did not want her name printed still wanted to share her thoughts. She strongly learned that, “No one is in charge of your happiness except you.” As she explained, “Growing up, life threw many curve balls and challenges at me. I dealt with the suicide of my father, the loss of an additional 18 family members, an emotionally abusive and destructive relationship with my remaining parent, and the constant harassment and degrading comments from my peers at school. Without a doubt, I had moments where I questioned the point of life, the point of trying. But then during my junior year in high school, I had, what for me at the time, was an epiphany. I realized that these were all just very unfortunate relationships and events thrown into my life, but that they did not in any way determine who I was as an individual, or who I could become. I made a conscious decision at that point to create my personal set of life standards and morals to live by, and to change and succeed in every aspect of my life I could control. I worked 2 jobs throughout all of high school to support myself, while maintaining my grades, knowing that all of these choices would help lead me toward my dreams/goals. I am often hard on my students, and some may think that I am insensitive to their personal problems, but the reality is that I love themempathize with them see potential in them, and hope that they too can see and realize their potential, and that they are ultimately in control of their destination.”
Science Teacher Holly Hereau let us know about what keeps her going and what item on the list she lives by. She told us, “I had a relatively ‘normal’ life until I was in fifth grade. In fifth grade my mom suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. I adjusted to this new ‘normal’, until my dad had a stroke the summer leading into my 9th grade year. He passed away shortly after that. I lived in foster care until I graduated from High School, and then I was on my own. This story so far is the epitome of ‘Life is not fair’. I learned very early that nothing was going to be given to me, and if I wanted something, I was going to have to work for it. Instead of sitting around with a ‘why me?’ attitude, I worked. I worked hard at school, at my after school job, and I worked hard in sports. I earned a full fouryear academic scholarship to GVSU and later a fellowship to MSU for grad school. I’ve been on teams that won State titles in softball and National titles in rugby. I’ve completed two Ironman races. While I didn’t have the support of a family, I built networks of friends and teammates that became my family. If you work hard, have a good attitude and treat people the way you want to be treated good things happen. I have amazing friends, a wonderful husband and a career that I love. While my life has not been easy or ‘fair’, I wouldn’t be the strong person that I am today without the lessons I gained from those hard experiences. Life is good!”
Lastly, Jennifer Frankling, the journalism advisor at Thurston high school shares about her mom, “My mom, Lois Ann Price, 60 years old, died on July 28, 2013. After her valiant fight with breast cancer in 2006, Lois’ battle resumed in January 2013 with stage 4 breast cancer that spread to her bones. Her strong will to live, unwavering faith in God, and the love and prayers of family, friends, and many supporters carried her through 6 more months of grueling Chemotherapy and Radiation. Not all super heroes need capes and this strong woman was the epitome of a super hero. Her strength and determination led her to not let cancer hold her back from what she wanted to do. Through the pain and fatigue she was determined to go to the birthday parties of her grandchildren, come to do the survivor lap at the Relay for Life the very next day after a chemo treatment, and to make it to the beach at Leisure Lake. IT DOES NOT COME WITH A BOW, BUT LIFE IS A GIFT.”
Ultimately, this list has a variety of lessons that many people can relate to and share their personal stories with. These are stories of strength, of learning, and of people who came side by side with these lessons. At the end of the day, believe in miracles, work hard, when in doubt, just take the next small step, life isn’t fair, but it’s still good, and the best is yet to come.