Wednesday, March 21, 2018

NORMAN—Students at Terra Verde Discovery School in Norman made a special donation to Norman Regional Health System’s Breast Care Center in honor of one of the school’s teachers.

Megan Moser, 38, a fourth grade teacher at Terra Verde was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of this year. Moser is younger than the age requirement for annual mammograms, but found a lump in her breast when she had an “itch.”

From there, she had a mammogram, ultrasound and later a biopsy at the Breast Care Center. The biopsy revealed that Moser had triple-negative breast cancer, meaning the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth—estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene—are not present in the cancer tumor.

“I’m very thankful I had a doctor who wanted to do the biopsy,” Moser said.

Since Moser found her lump on accident, she stressed the importance of women doing self-checks. Some useful tips for breast self-exams can be found online at nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam or breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam.

Moser sees Norman Regional’s newest oncologist, Shannon Haenel, DO, for her treatments.

“It’s really nice for a teacher because I don’t have to travel very far so that worked out,” Moser said. “[Dr. Haenel] has been amazing. I’ve done so much reading and research because I had a three-week time window in between being diagnosed and seeing my breast surgeon, so I just knew I had breast cancer and it was triple negative and I thought, ‘now what?’ So when I met with Dr. Haenel, it was just so nice that everything she told me, I had already read about. She knows her stuff—she just confirmed everything I read and is so knowledgeable.”

Moser said she did a lot of her own research because she didn’t want to be surprised again like she was with the diagnosis.

“Because of my age and because I don’t have any family history of breast cancer, I didn’t think it could happen to me,” Moser said.

Terra Verde students hosted a garage sale last month and earned $300. They got to vote on where the money should be donated to and why.

Terra Verde sells Team Moser hats that the students can wear to support Moser. The money from those sales goes directly to a fund for her medical bills, but the students voted to help other breast cancer patients. They chose Norman Regional’s Breast Care Center because it was where Moser was diagnosed and is close to their school.

“I was so touched,” Moser said. “We’ve been talking about the Virtue of the Month being compassion and trying to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. I was floored from the Team Moser hat sale already so when the students did the garage sale and I heard that it was because of knowing what I was going through and just knowing that money could help more people—I just thought it showed so much maturity and compassion on their part.”

The Terra Verde students got to present a big, handmade check that was signed by all of the students to Erin Barnhart, executive director of the Norman Regional Health Foundation, on March 12.

“That was a really special day. I almost cried during that presentation,” Moser said. “I was telling myself, ‘Okay, you’ve got to keep it together.’”

Barnhart said visiting with the second and third graders who raised the funds in support of Moser was inspiring.

“Their generous hearts shined through as they described the decision making process of where to donate the funds. The Norman Regional Health Foundation will take their gift and pay it forward to patients in need at Norman Regional’s Breast Care Center,” she said.

This is Moser’s fourth year teaching at Terra Verde and she said she knew it was great from the moment she started there, but the support she’s received from them throughout this process is amazing.

“Everyone here has just been amazing at trying to help me with my chemotherapy and all this treatment. Just making sure I’m taking care of myself and willing to help with my son,” Moser said. “I’m just really lucky to have this much support. This school is a special place.”

Aside from Terra Verde, Moser said she’s received an abundance of support from her husband and breast cancer survivors throughout Norman.

Terra Verde’s Team Moser hat sale is open to the public, if anyone wishes to buy a hat for $20 to help with Moser’s medical bills. Call Terra Verde at 405-366-6362 for more information on how to purchase.

For anyone who wishes to donate to the Norman Regional Health Foundation, visit www.nrhfoundation.org and click on “DONATE” in the top right corner or contact the office at 405-307-1077.