SYRACUSE — A second-grade teacher battling breast cancer got quite a surprise when she came back to school Monday.
Louise Inderreiden was greeted by Joseph Cook Elementary students and teachers all dressed in pink, who gathered to welcome her back following her absence from the first term of school.
“I can’t believe it,” Iderreiden said as tears filled her eyes. “I love it. I love it. That is awesome.”
The Pink Out was to show love and support for Inderreiden, who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. She underwent chemotherapy and surgery during the summer and first few months of fall.
“I’m so overwhelmed,” Inderreiden said, a teacher at the school for 20 years. "I wish that every cancer patient had this kind of support because their journey would be made easier.”
The idea for the Pink Out came from Dana Palmer, assistant secretary at the school and a cancer survivor. Palmer and Inderreiden found out they both had cancer about the same time. Palmer did not need radiation.
"It's such a hard thing to go through. We wanted to do something big. We're a family here."
“It’s such a hard thing to go through,” Palmer said. “We wanted to do something big. We’re a family here.”
Last week the school had a short educational assembly about breast cancer and their teacher. In a show of support, administration officials shaved their heads.
“She’s a special part of our faculty,” Dan Hansen, assistant principal and organizer of the event, said. “I shaved my head to show support for her. This does have a little personal significance to me because my mom passed away from cancer in 2007.”
Several students also shaved their heads.
“Oh, you guys have shorter hair than I do,” Inderreiden told them Monday.
Hansen described Inderreiden as a go-getter and hard worker, so much so that the surprise was nearly ruined because she wanted to return to school ahead of schedule.
“I had to text her and say, ‘You can’t come in early,’” Hansen said. “We had to stop her, slow her down.”
The school was decorated with pink ribbons and balloons. The halls and her classroom have posters signed by the students to welcome her back.
"This means the world,” Inderreiden said. “I just … I can't even express myself. I can't even put it into words. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced."
Inderreiden still has some radiation treatments ahead, and knowing that the children and people at the school are behind her will keep her going.