Check Your Health | Stories - Local Teacher Has a Life Lesson for Students
Friday, February 14 2014, 08:22 AM MST
Local Teacher Has a Life Lesson for Students
(KUTV) – Some local high school students are getting a lesson on the importance of overcoming obstacles. It is not a lesson they will read out of a textbook. It is a lesson they are learning from their English teacher.

Last fall, 42-year-old Michelle Ritter was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I just kind of thought I’m too old for cancer,” said Ritter. “It didn’t really sink in.” The tumor was located close the chest wall. So before doctors could remove the tumor, Michelle would need to begin chemotherapy. “I was mad because I am in the best shape of my life. I’ve got this great job. I’ve got all of these things. I’m too young.”

Michelle does not have a family history of breast cancer. However, she lost her mother to ovarian cancer. Michelle also has the gene that increases the likelihood that the cancer will return. She will have a double mastectomy. Doctors will also remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. Despite the pending surgeries and chemotherapy, Michelle is determined to remain positive. Not just for her students, but also for her 2 young children. “Attitude is everything. People are like ‘you have a really good attitude’. But I can have cancer and be depressed. Or, I can have cancer and be normal or be happy. Either way, I have cancer.”

Students and staff at Corner Canyon High School have offered their support to Michelle during her cancer fight. A couple members of the faculty shaved their heads. Michelle’s colleagues also bring her dinner. “The amount of support that I have gotten has been phenomenal,” said Ritter. “And a little overwhelming.” Corner Canyon High School principal, Mary Bailey, says Michelle’s attitude has been an inspiration to both the staff and the students. “I wish I could bottle her enthusiasm,” said Bailey. “Because it is not the enthusiasm and ambition or competitiveness, it is enthusiasm with pure joy. And if you could bottle it up, everyone in the world would have the same work ethic.”

And competition is in Michelle’s blood. When she is not teaching, she is at the Crossfit Great Salt Lake gym in Draper. While undergoing chemotherapy, Michelle has participated in a few competitions. She is currently training for the worldwide Crossfit Open competition that will begin at the end of the month. “This is my release pretty much every day that I feel good,” said Ritter.

Michelle finished chemotherapy on February 12. The next stage of her journey will be surgery. She hopes that she can be both a teacher and a role model to her students as she continues to fight cancer. “I love the fact that I can show my students that even though there are obstacles to overcome, you still keep on going.”

Reported by Mary Nickles
Follow Mary: @KUTVMary

Produced by: Carla Roberts Pruitt
Follow Carla: @crobscarla

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcast Group)Local Teacher Has a Life Lesson for Students

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