Local teacher celebrates victory with Buddy Check 12.

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ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- If anyone ever has a down moment fighting breast cancer, the best medicine might be just to walk into the first grade classroom of Suzanne Bennett. She teaches at Grace Episcopal in Orange Park, and her students are going pink.

"PInk Day" means the kids wear anything from pink laces in their tennis shoes to homemade pink hats. They wear buttons saying, "I wear pink in honor of Mrs. Bennett."

Mrs. Bennett says she prayed right away when she was diagnosed that God would help her make something good out of her experience.

She believes the message to her students is to not be afraid and to fight on.

The students are behind her every step of the way. In fact, when we asked how many chemo sessions Mrs. Bennett still has, they broke out in almost a spontaneous cheer, "2! 2! 2!" That is, she's almost finished!

She also believes in helping others. She rallied students and parents to have a "Pinkalicious Day", a fundraiser to purchase one of our new Buddy Check 12 backpacks for other women undergoing chemo.

The backpack, our project with Baptist Health and two survivors from Georgia, is full of comfort items and tips. It also includes a book written with a sense of humor and a practical eye for women in chemotherapy.

For every $130 raised, we can buy another backpack. (If your group wants to have a fundraiser, please contact Jeannie Blaylock jblaylock@firstcoastnews.com)

Mrs. Bennett's story also includes some wise advice for all of us. She says she found her breast cancer last October when it was the time of "Buddy Check on steroids."

That means she saw us on First Coast News talking a lot of Buddy Check and self exams/mammograms.

She says her lump was not the typical breast cancer lump most women find. Hers, she says, was mushy. (Usually a breast cancer is hard or firm.)

Mrs. Bennett says her lump did hurt. Again, that's unusual.

So her wise advise is to check for anything different than what you normally feel. It's a good thing she was sharp enough to call a doctor right away.

She caught her cancer early, stage 1.

As for Buddy Check, she says, "Do it right. Do it real. Call your friends and send out emails."

As for Pink Day, Mrs. Bennett cut pieces of a giant cookie which says in pink icing, "Always pray and never give up. Luke 18:1."

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If you're a local woman going through chemo for breast cancer, you can have a Buddy Check backpack for free. You'll need a letter from your doctor. To find out more email Jeannie (jblaylock@firstcoastnews.com)

If you'd like to help the original backpack creators hold fundraisers in Georgia, you can email Lucy Barlow barlow_lucy@yahoo.com

If you'd like a free Buddy Check

12, just call Baptist at 904-202-CARE.

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