The journey of a cancer survivor


Courtesy of Shi

Shi pictured playfully in the front of an aircraft.

By Karolina Perkowski

As the 2021-2022 school year approaches, Chinese teacher, Haihong Shi is ready to return to the building to teach her incoming students. Times have been tough these last couple of years for Shi on account of being diagnosed with lymphoma cancer back in 2018. 

Not only was lymphoma cancer a big concern for her, but we have been in a pandemic for over 2 years causing more danger for Shi’s health. 

“I was planning to do the stem cell transplant earlier last year, 2020 in the spring. That way I would have more time to recover over the summer but due to the pandemic my doctor told me that the stem cell transplant won’t kill me but covid will, so I had to wait until this summer”  Shi said.

Waiting to hear the life changing news from her doctors, Shi was ready for her stem cell transplant in August of 2021. 

“[Northwestern Medicine Hospital]  had a bed for me in August. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks, it was a tough time, very tough time, but I got support from [my] church and the school district” Shi said.

 Even though she persevered through these tough moments in life, she continues to keep a smile on her face and look back at everything she has endured.   

Having approval by her doctors to be back in the building is a blessing for her and everyone supporting her along the way. One big challenge remains for Shi back at school: teaching and being around potentially sick students and teachers. 

“Whenever I have a student in class that say they are sick I get so nervous, I say to please keep distance and wear masks” Shi said. 

Being the amazing teacher she is, Shi always makes her students a priority to make sure everyone is doing well. 

“Junior year I was going through a lot of stuff… she would completely ignore the fact that she was going through stuff and would check up on me like nothing was going on in her life,” 2021 graduate, Veronica Kucharczyk, said. 

Shi set aside her problem to help her students when she knew something was wrong. 

When students were informed about Shi’s situation, some were able to sympathize what she was going through. 

“My mom passed away due to cancer so I’m able to not exactly relate to her but I know where she’s coming from and I know her struggles so I understand what she’s going through,” sophomore, Billy Pahl said. 

Students are eager to be in class knowing Shi always has a positive attitude toward her class that rubs off on her students. 

“I think Mrs. Shi is a great woman and though she’s been through so many struggles, she still finds a way to bring smiles on peoples faces,”Pahl said. 

With everything Shi has been through, she does not let that affect her as an individual, she keeps an optimistic mindset no matter what situation she is in. 

” Life is beautiful. Let’s cherish every minute on this world,”  Shi said.