‘GEORGIA ON MY MIND’: Teacher enters third battle with breast cancer

In August Georgia Nunez entered her third year of teaching math at North Stanly High School.

A couple weeks later, Nunez also entered her third battle with cancer.

She found out on Aug. 18, her 59th birthday.

“This is the third time I’ve had cancer. It is breast cancer,” she said. “I found out the first two times after I had mammograms. This time I had to have an MRI because there is too much scar tissue to have a mammogram.”

Nunez said she will soon begin chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Then there will be surgery and a radiation. Just this week she had CAT and bone scans.

“I’ve been very open about this with my students. I was at North Stanly the second time I had cancer, so they know my history,” she said. “I keep them updated after each appointment and let them know what the next steps are. My students are great. They always ask me how I am and let me know they are praying for me.”

As well as prayers, students Hayden Dege and Jeffrey Gardiner set up a GoFundMe last week to help her out.

“We were sitting in class and Mrs. Nunez was talking about her cancer treatments and how she was working extra jobs to make money,” Gardiner said. “As a group, we were talking about ways we could help. We thought a GoFundMe would be an easy way to show her support, so we just did it. Within an hour, we had our first donations. We literally just wanted to help, and we thought this was the best way to do it.”

Jeffrey Gardiner, left, helped organize a GoFundMe to assist North Stanly High math teacher Georgia Nunez as she fights breast cancer for a third time. (Contributed)

“The money is a blessing,” Nunez said, “but the fact that they care enough to do it is more of a blessing than the money. It really lifts me up.”

Besides the students, Nunez said the staff has been helpful.

“I only have to ask if there is anything I need. The last time I had cancer I left school every day during planning to have my radiation treatment,” she said. “I do have a great support system. I have my children and my sister. Friends and co-workers are always there for me as well.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nunez said “maybe my story is what someone needs to hear. There has to be a reason for all of this.”

“I would stress the importance of getting a mammogram,” she added. “It really does save lives. I have no family history and all of the genetic markers were negative for me. But I guess the most important thing I would say is to stay positive, be strong, you can get through it, and never give up hope.”

Free mammograms are available through the Stanly Health Foundation.

“Statistics show that one in eight women will be diagnosed during their lifetime with breast cancer,” said Kim McGowen, annual giving officer for Stanly Health Foundation. “Stanly Health Foundation provides a free mammogram program for uninsured women in our community. This program affords folks the opportunity to receive these crucial screenings that could detect issues in their earliest stage, thus allowing for more favorable outcomes. Early detection truly is the best protection.”

For more information regarding the free mammogram program, call 980-323-4668.

Visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-mrs-nunez/share to donate to Nunez. She said she has no sick days left “so each time I’m out it will be without pay.”