Allison Peters had just lost her mother to breast cancer when she walked into a routine exam room in October.
The UF nursing clinical assistant professor had felt a lump and began to worry. After 16 years of being in remission, she learned her breast cancer returned. After months of waiting, she decided to tell her students Tuesday morning.
Two days later, her students wanted to surprise her.
“After enduring chemotherapy, mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries, I was stronger and wouldn’t allow cancer back into my life,” Peters wrote in an email.
Thursday morning, 120 of Peters’ students wore pink and presented her with gifts and cards to show their support for her when she walked into class, Shari Huffman, a clinical lecturer at UF’s College of Nursing, wrote in an email.
“Peters was very surprised and overwhelmed by the students and was practically speechless,” Huffman said.
The last thing Peters wanted was to make a big deal and have everyone worry, but she made sure the students knew what she was going to be facing when it came to her upcoming chemotherapy, Huffman said.
“She told the students that she will be so happy and relieved when she sees them as a patient in the infusion area, knowing that they will take excellent care of her,” Huffman said.
Peters’ cancer is aggressive and in her lymph nodes, which means she’ll need chemotherapy and possible surgeries, Peters said.
Although she has a long journey ahead of her, Peters knows the technology and treatments are better than they were 16 years ago and is relying on the support of her friends and family to get her through, she said.
“I know this is a marathon, not a sprint,“ Peters said.