A California school district is rallying around one of their teachers as she continues her fight against breast cancer.
Carol Clark, a sixth-grade teacher at Jaime Escalante Elementary School in Cudhay, Calif., was forced to miss nearly all of the 2013 school year due to treatments and complications, MyFoxPhilly.com reported.
The 56-year-old had to use her vacation days, plus 120 sick days she had accumulated over her 17 years of teaching for appointments and surgeries. Clark found herself running out of days, but too sick to return to work.
“I lost pay, I lost my medical benefits, I lost all that stuff,” she told MyFoxPhilly.com.
“It’s difficult, you see your wife and it’s like you feel helpless and you know what can I do to help her,” Dave Clark, Carol’s husband, told KABC.
Dave, also a teacher at the school, found out about a program the Los Angeles Unified School District has called the “Catastrophic Illness Donation Program.” The program allows for teachers to donate up to 20 of their own sick days to another member of the staff.
Dave emailed their circle of friends letting them know about the program, and word quickly spread through the district. In total, Carol received more than 150 donated sick days from friends and strangers.
“Very overwhelming, and I felt very humbled like you know, wow I can’t believe that this is happening,” Carol told KABC of the donations.
The days “allowed her that time during the summer to really get herself back to where she needed to be, which is in the classroom,” Dave told KABC.
Carol’s cancer is now in remission and she says the support she’s received is “indescribable.”
“I started to feel very down and very negative, but once these donations of sick days started coming in it did make me feel better, it did give me hope,” Carol told KABC.
District officials estimate the program helps around 20-25 teachers every year, MyFoxPhilly.com reported.