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Barnesville teacher fights back after cancer diagnosis

June 16, 2013
By ED POLLI - Staff Writer , Times Leader

LORI Tetlow Witchey of St. Clairsville is a mother, wife, daughter and teacher. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. She did not lay down and feel sorry for herself. With prayer, the love and support of family and friends, and with a strong will and determination to win the battle, she has embarked on a road to a cure.

"No one wants to hear the words 'you have cancer' and if you do, then remember, it does not mean a death sentence. There are cures, and with faith, support and expert medical help, you can win the battle," Witchey said.

She began her road to recovery by returning to her job as a teacher at Barnesville Middle School. "There is nothing like work to get your mind off yourself. Is it difficult? Yes, it is, but it can and must be done if you are to succeed," Witchey said.

As part of her treatment, Witchey takes a cancer pill once a day and once a month goes to Wheeling for a shot. "I am very proud of my daughter," Barbara Tetlow of Barnesville said. "She has a strong will, and I feel she is an inspiration to others. Through all this, she has remained active."

Tetlow said Lori helped raise $6,727 for the Cutting Class for a Cure, a fund raiser at Barnesville Middle School which benefits the Barnesville 3Cs cancer support group. "She and another teacher, Bev McConnell, worked hard to surpass last year's goal." Lori said it was important for her to raise as much money as possible. "I felt I had to give something back to the Barnesville community for all they did for me."

Lori was diagnosed with cancer in June 2008. A doctor's examination found it. "I was fortunate that it was detected early," she said.

When she heard the words she had cancer, Lori said she was in shock and could not believe it could happen to her. However, it did. Her mother, husband Todd and two children, Samantha and Christian, were also in a state of shock. "They did not know what to do or where to turn," Lori said. "When I saw the look on their faces, I think it gave me an incentive to battle for my life."

Lori said the doctor laid out plans for treatment. She took 18 treatments of chemo at Wheeling Hospital. "Since the cancer was detected in the summer, I was lucky that I missed only 18 days of school in the fall," she said. She was not a patient in the hospital and went home after each chemo treatment.

"When I told the doctor I wanted to go back to work, he said, 'I'll be the driver and you can get on the bus'," Lori said. "He was all for it."

What advice does she have for those who have cancer? "I believe in the power of prayer, and I know it was a big help in my recovery," she said. "Be positive in your thinking and have a good sense of humor. Be active and stay involved."

Lori said she is grateful for every day of her life. "My husband, children and my mom were my biggest supporters. I feel great and am thankful to my doctor and all the staff at the hospital."

Lori said she has had five excellent years since she heard the words, 'you have cancer.'

"Yes, I was in disbelief, but there was so much I had to live for, and I prayed and I fought. I urge everyone who has cancer to not give up and to turn to God and to your family for support and strength. Hope and love are wonderful virtues, and I am blessed to have an abundance of both of them," she said.

Polli can be reached at



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