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Fifth-Grade Teacher: ‘I Don’t Just have Two Kids; I have 50 Who Motivate Me’

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Fifth-Grade Teacher: ‘I Don’t Just have Two Kids; I have 50 Who Motivate Me’

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

There’s an image that Kyndal Davis has captured in her mind: A classroom at Sullivan Elementary School in Sullivan, Ind. where every student is wearing a pink t-shirt.

Davis, 35, has been married for 12 years to Colby Davis. They have two daughters, ages 9 and four. But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2022, she needed to break the news to more than just two children.

She sat down with her school principals and decided to send a letter to the parents of her students.

“I don’t just have two kids; I have 50. We’re so close that I needed to talk them through it,” said Davis. “We sat down with a counselor and we were all crying but they really motivated me.”

Davis had never had a mammogram but found a lump on her left side. “It was almost more on my chest. When I went for an ultrasound they found a larger tumor that wasn’t first detected,” she said. She first went to an oncologist closer to her home. Two aunts had been diagnosed with breast cancer so Davis went in for genetic testing and found out she was negative for the mutation. Still, she wanted to move forward with a double mastectomy.

“My oncologist said: ‘I wouldn’t endorse that surgery,’ so I came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center and it was the best decision I made,” said Davis. She said she felt completely at peace when she met Dr. Tarah Ballinger.

“I wasn’t letting someone else make decisions for my life. It was one thing I had control over and it is my body,” said Davis, who underwent several rounds of chemotherapy prior to a double mastectomy in September. She now continues with hormone therapy block treatments at Simon Cancer Center. Her mother, Nina Spinks joined her for a recent treatment.

“My mom and my husband have been my rocks through all of this,” said Davis.

After telling her students about her diagnosis, Davis said they gifted her with care packages to take to chemotherapy treatments. The bags were filled with snacks, art supplies, a blanket, and other essentials.

“Towards the end of the school year, they kicked me out of the classroom and into the hallway. My co-teacher went in and asked what they were up to,” said Davis. “When she walked into the room she was greeted by a sea of pink - her students were wearing t-shirts that said, “#Team Davis.”

She gets a little choked up as she describes the encouragement that motivates her.

“I sat there in awe looking at these kiddos - my kiddos, displaying those pink t-shirts. I always tell my students at the beginning of the year that we will become like a family going through ups and downs together, but I never dreamed this would be one of those things we would have to go through together,” said Davis. “Having their support and prayers from the start has been amazing. They are definitely a part of what has kept me going. I can’t imagine having any other job and this is not a job; this is what I do.”

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