When teacher Jodi Purvenas was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew she had to tell some of the most special people in her life: her third-grade students. It was a difficult topic to bring up with the kids, but she wanted to be open and honest with them.
So after her lumpectomy in February, she told her students that she was having radiation treatment—15 treatments in total over the course of three weeks. She would be in the classroom in the morning but would have to leave in the afternoon.
“I told them I had to get special laser beams and they were gonna make me even healthier,” says Purvenas.
What the 53-year-old wasn’t expecting, however, was the extra-special response of one of her students. 9-year-old Blair Weber was touched by her teacher’s story and wrote her a note to take with her on the day of her first treatment and read right before she got started.
“She said, ‘Would you please promise to read it right before you go in the first time?’ and I did,” says Purvenas. “I actually read it every day right before I went in so this is priceless to me.”
The note reads:
I have a cool 3rd grade teacher. Her name is Mrs. Purvenas. She had a sad diagnosis of cancer. She told us about these cool laser beams called radiation. They are going to make her have more superpowers. She is turning into a real-life superhero right before our eyes! She is the incredible strong WONDER PURVENAS! Now she is cooler than you can imagine. I can’t believe we have a real-life Wonder Purvenas as our teacher.
Be brave! Be strong!
Go get them, Wonder Purvenas.
“She means everything to me,” says Blair. “She’s the best teacher I could ask for.”
But the class’s kindness didn’t end there. Blair also convinced her mom to make shirts for the entire class to surprise Mrs. Purvenas and show their support, complete with a special logo and the new nickname, “Wonder Purvenas.” Some parents also got together to decorate the classroom door.
Check out the video below to learn more about Mrs. Purvenas’s extra special cancer support system. Plus, hear what Blair wrote to her teacher when she found out that Mrs. Purvenas had been declared cancer-free!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?