A beloved Lowcountry teacher battling stage four cancer is determined to remain in the classroom to help his students. At 32-years-old, he continues to teach life lessons. Mr. Thomas Henry is our Everyday Hero.
Newington Elementary School special education teacher Thomas Henry is fighting for his life.
“Toward the end of the school year, I had some headaches, some fatigue and health issues, very minimal. With my wife being a nurse, she was like hey let’s go get some scans. On June 17th we got a phone call from the doctor saying I was diagnosed with stage four melanoma, skin cancer,” says Henry.
The devastating diagnosis came on June 17th. The news sent his wife Brittany into early labor.
Mr. Henry says, “Going into that evening, kind of really wrapped my head around it, didn’t think it was true, not knowing what to expect. The next morning Beau was born with an emergency c-section, and ever since then, we knew our family has been called. I’ve been called by God to carry out this journey, to use Beau as my vessel as my purpose to wake up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. Beau was born on the 18th, the 19th we found out exactly, while my wife was still in the hospital. My parents took me, and we found out it was melanoma. With it being stage four, it spread throughout my whole entire body. It wasn’t one central location. There are some spots on my brain, spots on my bone marrow, spots on lymph nodes that have actually paralyzed one of my vocal cords so that is why I’m hoarse. There’s some spots around my lung, and liver area so it’s throughout my body.”
Despite his health battles, Mr. Thomas is still in the classroom. He says, “I can’t sit on the sidelines because I know that cancer that’s going to attack and win. That’s not going to happen with me. I’ve got a family to raise. I’ve got a son to raise, and I’ve got kids in the classroom that I’ve got to get them out and into high school, so knowing what’s going on inside of me, I kind of just throw that on the back burner. When I walk into the school, normally I’m moving around bouncing around. I’m whooping and hollering in the classrooms, but this year, I’m having to dial back a little bit more so I can pace myself in the classroom. My district has been great. They got me a headset that gives me a voice amplifier, so my voice could be normal throughout the day so the kids can hear me.”
Mr. Henry was named Rookie Teacher of the Year last school year. He started a special club at Newington called Becoming a Man. He was also featured as a News 2 Cool School Teacher earlier this year. When they walk into the classroom, hey Mr. Henry how are you? That’s that why. That’s that little bit of stomach pain, that’s that little headache, that’s that little fatigue that I kind of forget about it,” says Henry.
His wife Brittany says, “Just watching him go to school. He finds his purpose there. Outside of being a husband and a father, he finds his purpose there. That is truthfully what brings him joy. I think cancer puts a huge perspective on your life. I told him day one you should only do the things you want to do, because if you only have three months, do you want to look back and say I tried to please people, and he said ok. From day one he said my goal is to be in the classroom, day one.”
Mr. Henry says, “I wear a bracelet that says do not fear for I am with you. I know when I wake up it doesn’t matter whatever I’m faced with that day, I know God’s right beside me. Knowing that what’s going on inside me could take my life, but I know I’m not scared. I wake up every morning and I thank God for giving me a day to share his word.”
The community is working to help the Henry family. A fundraiser was held last week to help the family with medical bills. If you would like to help click here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/qfkwyj-the-henry-family?member=2700892&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb_tco_campmgmtbnr_w&fbclid=IwAR3su2Vh2B6cTHT6TpIf-tn-4vlGG4fciEiBZCCchUMgzhQrSW7BaMzuA2U