Upton’s Mantra: Breathe Deep, Seek Peace

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Ruth Upton, cancer survivor. Photo by Aaron Smith

 

Ruth Upton has many titles. She is an education professor, a wife, a mother and a grandmother to name a few. However, the most inspiring title is cancer survivor.

In the spring semester of 2015, Upton was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started her chemotherapy treatment in the summer, after her spring classes ended. Upton said she would not have been able to teach her classes during chemotherapy treatments because the side effects from chemo were rough.

She received her radiation treatments during the fall semester of 2015. Her appointments were early in the morning, so she could still teach her afternoon classes.

Upton said she is uncertain if facing cancer changed her outlook on life as much as it reinforced the lesson she learned throughout her life: you should live for today and never take anything for granted.

Upton’s husband Frank was a big help. When she got the diagnosis, he said, “We will get through this.” Frank took her to all of her appointments (except two), always stayed positive and cared for both Upton and their household. Upton said, “I don’t think I could have had anyone better to be there with me. He was always strong.”

She had radiation at the same time as a friend and said that it was nice to have someone there with her who completely understood what was going on. Upton also had support from her students. After her diagnosis, students in her classes helped teach lessons for the remainder of the semester. The students had different assignments and worked together as a team to get things accomplished.

She is much more understanding now of students who have health issues. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the number one human need is to take care of yourself. Ruth said she reminds her students of this often. Upton said, “You can’t take care of your business and get your work done if you don’t take care of yourself first.”

When asked how she managed her daily life tasks, Ruth said, “You just do what you have to do, and help others along the way.”

Upton serves as advisor for PSC Serves You club. The club completes community service projects in Keyser and the surrounding areas. Upton also participates in Relay for Life.

Upton’s advice to anyone with cancer is, “Don’t be devastated by a diagnosis of cancer because it is amazing how far they have come with treatment and making you as comfortable as they can during treatment. The folks who do the care for the patients are amazingly kind and thoughtful folks.”