Ellen George, cancer survivor

Library media specialist shares experience


Library media specialist Ellen George was diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer in 2005. George reflects on her battle to beat the disease.

Nietzsche Deuel

Book club adviser and library media specialist Ellen George said she vividly recalls her initial surprise after being diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer in 2005.

“It was a surprise because I was only 50 years old and that just wasn’t in my family history or anything. You just can’t believe it at first, but you have to, and so it’s just a process everyone goes through on your own,” George said.

Senior book club president Arielle Vlodaver said George had a lot of internal strength in order to maintain her high spirits.

“I think she’s really strong to persevere through (her cancer) and still be a really kind hearted person. She hasn’t ever made anyone feel sorry for her,” Vlodaver said.

George said being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t just affect her, but also the people who know her.

“Everybody in your circle experiences cancer too, and it’s hard, because it’s scary, and there’s no guaranteed outcome with some of the diagnoses,” George said.

Social studies teacher Carley Kregness, who has worked at Park since 1994, said she felt it was unfair for George to have been diagnosed with cancer.

“(I felt) exactly what you expect when a friend is diagnosed with cancer. I was really upset and really sad, (I) wanted to be supportive,” Kregness said. “She was too young, but I know young people get cancer.”

George said she had many friends who helped her when she could no longer help herself.

“I had friends of mine who I hadn’t seen in years, (they) were mothers of my daughter’s friends, a couple of them came over and cleaned my house which was a total pigsty by that time,” George said. “People wouldn’t even think about that, but it meant a lot when I could no more get up and care about that kind of stuff.”

According to Vlodaver, small deeds can be more impactful than more elaborate actions.

“I think each action makes a difference and that the world is made up of small good deeds, not even the huge (good deeds), its just all the small good deeds,” Vlodaver said.

George said she learned positivity can come from negative experiences.

“There are gifts that come from it that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody, but you do learn a lot about yourself and what you believe is important, what you’d really miss if you didn’t have your life,” George said.

According to Kregness, George is helpful, generous and a great resource for students.

“George is infinitely patient, incredibly helpful to students and teachers. She’s willing to give tons of her free time to students and teachers to be more successful and support them. We are really lucky to have her here,” Kregness said.

George said she is most thankful for her husband who looked after her while she was dealing with cancer

“My husband (was my biggest support). I can’t say enough about how kind he was and handled everything in our lives. It’s a real tough thing to be the major support system for someone that’s going through cancer,” George said.

According to George, she valued her life and wasn’t going to let cancer stop her from living the way she wanted to.

“I think the biggest thing I learned was I couldn’t choose the outcome, but I could choose how I got to the outcome,” George said. “So my choice was to live as if I were going to live and to enjoy and to cherish the things that were in my life. That was everything from people to all the animals in my life.”