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Clintonville principal continues cancer battle

Cancer lessens but still remains

By Erik Buchinger

When Michelle Vosters took her position as the St. Rose St. Mary’s principal in January 2016, she called it a dream come true.

“It was exciting. It was something I hadn’t thought about doing, but it just seemed like the right fit for my personality and my faith beliefs to be able to lead others in becoming more educated in their faith and general education as well,” Vosters said. “It was a dream made in heaven.”

Nearly two years in, Vosters said she has enjoyed her job, though it has its challenges.

“I think all jobs worth doing have challenges,” Vosters said. “There are challenges with this job, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges I have come across.”

When Black Friday shopping with her children at Fleet Farm in November 2017, Vosters began to feel an intense pain.


“I have never felt such a pain in my life,” Vosters said. “I have been through various surgeries from being an athlete and giving birth with a C-section, but none of that pain came even close to the kidney stone.”

Vosters said her kids drove her to the emergency room because she was in no condition to drive.

When the doctors were scanning for the kidney stone, they found cancer.

Vosters was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage four.

“I had no symptoms whatsoever,” Vosters said. “It was just a silly kidney stone. I don’t know if anybody has ever been happy to have a kidney stone before, but the early diagnosis makes a difference.”

The cancer spread to her lungs, liver, lymph nodes and C5 vertebrae.

When the doctor told them the news, Vosters said she immediately thought about her family.

“I was really concerned for my family,” Vosters said. “My two children who were shopping with me that night heard it from the doctor before my husband even heard it. It was the look of shock on their faces that just really made me think and realize here we go again.”

Vosters was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2012, underwent surgery that August and started chemotherapy at the end of the month. It was approximately one year before all the treatments were completed with her first bout with cancer.

“It was just a concern for my family and concern of how I am going to continue on with my job,” Vosters said. “I don’t think about my own health, but I only worry about everybody else.”

Vosters took days off following treatments because they would wipe her out, she said. After a day off, she came back to work four to five days the next week.

“Basically, it was come when you can, but stay home when you need to,” Vosters said. “That was the understanding.”

Vosters said she averaged four to five hours a day at work last school year and was able to work from home some days.

Vosters has relied on her faith, family and friends as well as the kids at school.

“I come in every day and they will look at me all excited and say, ‘Hey your hair is growing back,’” Vosters said. “It’s things like that that really pick up my spirits and realize what a gift life really is. We take it for granted everyday and don’t realize how fragile our lives really are.”

Vosters said this experience has taught children at school the value of prayer.

“We pray to start every day, so they included me in prayer all last year,” Vosters said. “They constantly prayed for me so when they saw me coming back, my color coming back, and strength coming back, it really helped them understand importance of prayer. I went from being barely able to do stairs to go to the cafeteria last April, and now I’m there every single day. I think they enjoy knowing that I am healthy again.”

Chemotherapy cleared the cancer in Vosters’s lymph nodes and C5 vertebrae. Cancer remains in her lungs and liver, although the cancer has reduced from treatments.

“The cancer has been pretty steady over the last two scans I’ve had,” Vosters said. “It’s staying level. It’s not getting worse or better, but it’s staying steady, and that’s OK because I can still live and function and do everything I need to do.”

Vosters said she is thankful to the community, in school and out of school, for all the support over the past year.

Vosters said she has been doing better in learning how to deal with cancer a second time.

“I think it’s created a sense of perseverance in me that I’m not going to let things get me down for too long of a period of time,” Vosters said. “One of the things I’ve tried to work hard on is the idea of self-pity and avoiding it at all costs. There are so many people who have been diagnosed with things a whole lot worse than I’ve gone through. I try to think about the gifts I do have rather than those things that may have caused a little hardship, but we’re fine. God is taking good care of us.”

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