At Oakland Heights Elementary School in Meridian the focus is most always on the students, but on this Pink Thursday, it was on music teacher, Jewel Rushing.
Rushing was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. She said instantly her colleagues and principal went into action making her life as comfortable as possible.
"You feel like you are sick and all alone," said Rushing. "And cancer is devastating. I know there is a lot of progress made but it is still devastating."
That's why now, a year after those first tough months, Rushing wanted to say thank you to the staff that made her feel so loved, especially her principal Rosalind Operton. Rushing won the Pink Thursday lunch, courtesy of The Deli on 5th, sponsored by Riley Hospital. In addition to the meal, Riley provides a free informational talk about breast cancer awareness.
"I knew it was going to be tough. And we cried, both of us, and then she said, 'I am going to beat it'," said Operton. "And immediately, I wanted to know what I could do to make it better."
Rushing went to doctor's appointments during lunch, took plenty of time off while she was sick, and even picked her own temporary replacement.
"After she and I started talking about what she could do, then I started thinking about who could I replace her with, and she suggested her son," said Operton.
"It wouldn't be like a stranger; he would be reporting to me and I could help them with what they needed to be doing," said Rushing.
So now Rushing is cancer-free and working again full-time. Her son has been named the P.E. teacher.
And while her months battling the disease were hard, her colleagues say she has more energy now than before. And that spirit is obviously contagious.
The final Pink Thursday event will be Oct. 30 in the Bonita Lakes Mall food court from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and get free coupons and breast cancer awareness information.