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LibbyMt.com > News > May 2011 > Teacherís life impacted by cancer


Kendra Benner. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Kendra Benner
Kendra Benner discusses a project with students in her fifth-grade class at Libby Middle School. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.

Kootenai Valley Record. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Kootenai Valley Record
Teacherís life impacted by cancer
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
May 1, 2011

A colorful explosion of piŮatas made by fifth-graders at Libby Middle School will provide cheer at Wingsí Cinco de Mayo dinner.

The students have been working on the piŮatas throughout the month as a special project combining art with cultural studies while helping a worthy cause. That cause is of particular significance to one of their teachers, Kendra Benner, whose life has been profoundly affected by cancer.

Breast and ovarian cancer run in Bennerís family. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34 and died at 40. An aunt was also diagnosed with the disease, and subsequent testing showed the women in the family carry a gene that makes them predisposed to certain cancers.

Benner started getting mammograms when she was 21, but when she reached the age of 34 recently she decided to take preventive action. She made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy, a hysterectomy and an oophorectomy Ė the removal of the ovaries Ė without waiting to be diagnosed.

"I was tired of having that hanging over my head," she said.

A biopsy of Bennerís breast tissue following the mastectomy showed a pre-cancerous condition, confirming that she had made the right decision.

The surgeries were difficult, but the peace of mind was worth it, Benner said.

"I can actually look past the age of 40 now," she said. "I hadnít done that before. I can actually envision seeing my kids graduate and get married. I couldnít see it before."
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Editor's Note: See the April 26, 2011 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Tuesdays, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail kvrecord@gmail.com.


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