Principal battling cancer surprises students at pep rally

Fundraiser to benefit principal's family set for March 15

Published On: Mar 11 2013 10:57:25 AM CDT   Updated On: Feb 28 2013 09:31:05 PM CST
Lori Burns
JANESVILLE, Wis. -

An annual event for Monroe Elementary School in Janesville will be a fundraiser for the school's principal.

Principal Lori Burns remains on medical leave battling stage four breast cancer.

She surprised her students by returning to school Thursday for their pep rally to kick off "Monroe Madness," the school's annual students verses staff basketball game.

After three weeks, Burns returned to Monroe Elementary School to cheers, high fives and applause.

"I have lesions on my brain, on my liver, my lungs and my vertebrae. So I have a big battle ahead of me," Burns said.

Burns said she has good days and bad ones. She said she has some vision problems and the radiation treatment causes a burning sensation in her body.

Despite that, Burns said she's thankful Thursday was a good day because she really wanted to see her students.

Burns says she missed her "second family" and wanted them to know she's fighting and doing OK.

"I'm here and I'm fighting. I know they're going to be thinking, 'Oh my goodness, she has no hair,'" Burns said.

Treatment robbed her of her hair, but the 44-year-old remains optimistic. She credits community support for her strength.

"I feel like I have the perfect situation in order to beat this and that's the way I'm entering this. With God on my side and all these people supporting us. I'm going to fight the good fight," Burns said.

Burns travels to Madison daily for treatment. She said fundraisers hosted by Janesville groups have helped with those expenses. It's unclear when she will be able to return, but she said her heart remains with her students.

"When they've come in here for discipline or when I'm talking to them out at recess, all I want them to do is try, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to try and I feel like I am the most equipped that I have ever been in my life to battle this."

This year's Monroe Madness will be a benefit for Burns and her family. It is being held March 15 in the gym at Craig High School, 401 S. Randall Ave. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.

Admission is free but they will be selling T-shirts and collecting donations. For details on the fundraiser, people can contact Lisa Haberli at 608-743-6951 or visit the school's website.

Burns also keeps a journal on www.caringbridge.org (log in and click on Loriburns68).