Herzig Beats Cancer, Returns to Classroom

Joelle Nelson, Co-Editor in Chief

Advanced Placement United States history teacher Lisa Herzig stepped away from the classroom in December of 2016 to focus her attention full-time on a fight with breast cancer. “That [to leave campus] was the hardest decision that I had to make,” said Herzig, who had continued to work for 3 months after her initial diagnosis.

In fact, Herzig wanted to continue working for the duration of her treatment, but chemotherapy is a brutal regimen, which causes a reduction in blood cells, contributing to a feeling of exhaustion and dizziness. Though Herzig wanted to be there for her students, the fatigue began to impact her ability to provide effective instruction.

According to counselor Jenna Wrobel, the “determined and dedicated” Herzig was encouraged by fellow history teachers Molly Kerr and Lindsay Webb-Peploe to take a break from the classroom.

“They had a frank sit-down with me and advised me, ‘Enough,'” admitted Herzig. “They couldn’t watch me suffering anymore.”

Herzig needed others to give, what Wrobel called “permission to let go,” and let someone else take over her classroom. Once she made her decision, Herzig said she was relieved.

During her break, Herzig helped with her charitable corporation, purchased a new home, and spent much of her time with her husband. While she admitted that the extra time with her spouse was sometimes glorified babysitting, she was thankful to get out of the house and focus on other things besides cancer.

Good news arrived when Herzig learned she would be recovered enough to return to teach the 2017-2018 school year. She began planning for her new classes while still undergoing radiation treatment.

Now a few months into the new school year, Herzig feels charged with a new enthusiasm. “I have to have that part [the intellectual] of my brain engaged, or it’s dark,” Herzig explained.

On October 12, Herzig received her final treatment and was declared cancer-free. Although it felt a little anticlimactic among the chaos of buying a new house, Herzig appreciated her cheering class and a nurse’s enthusiastic high-five.

“I like to think of it as like I had to visit this horrible island, and I’m sailing away, I’m not gonna go back, bon voyage, and [the treatment] was the last anchor being brought up on the ship before debarking,” said Herzig.

Herzig is thankful for the support she has received from so many, including members of her senior classes of 2016-2017.

“I feel like cancer did not stand a chance because I had 1500 people behind [me],” she said.