Richmond teachers rally to help colleague whose daughter has cancer

Updated: May. 3, 2019 at 5:22 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond Public Schools teacher who has taught at Fox Elementary for more than two decades, is learning how much her colleagues truly care for her.

Tracee Candia’s eighth-grade daughter, Koree, was just diagnosed with cancer. Both Koree and her mother will have to take the next year off from school for her treatment.

But teachers across RPS are rallying to donate sick time, and raise thousands of dollars for Tracee and her family.

Koree recalls with a slight smile, having her mom as her fifth grade teacher.

“I couldn’t slide with anything,” she said.

Two weeks ago, in a doctor’s office with her mother and father, Koree was told she had Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of muscle cancer.

"I cried, of course, as anybody would take that sort of news,” she said. “It was kind of like, am I going to die? That’s kind of what went through my mind. Is it going to ever disappear?”

Koree has already lost 20 pounds since she began to feel symptoms in January, including a burning throat when she tries to eat. She’s already started chemo treatment, which has made her nauseous and tired.

But Tracee says God is already giving them that answer.

“Now, we know how to target our prayers, so that we can expect for God to do a miracle.”

So far, that miracle has come in the form of help from Tracee’s teacher friends at Fox Elementary, the school where she’s helped shape young minds for 21 years.

Teachers have donated over 85 days of sick time to Tracee, since family leave is unpaid.

She and Koree will both be out of school for a year during her chemo treatment.

The staff also set up a GoFundMe that’s raised more than $7,000, and counting.

“That was just like a miracle right there, and God moving amazingly to assist with everything we need to make sure we have what she needs,” said Tracee.

“(My mother) has been there throughout the entire thing,” said Koree of her mother’s support. “I truly believe that I’m not going to be in this situation... I know I’m not.”

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