Mrs. Debbie McKnight returns to school after cancer scare


Photo By: Izabella DeLaGarza

Mrs. Debbie McKnight interacts with her class while teaching. She returned to Judson High School on February 1 after having a full hysterectomy.

Nobody ever wants to receive bad news, especially when it has to do with one’s health. It is scary, knowing that your life can be on a path that you may not be able to control.

It’s frightening.

But if one is told soon enough, something can be done to prevent it from getting worse.

Mrs. Debbie McKnight, a veteran health science teacher, returned to Judson after recovering from a full hysterectomy when precancerous cells concerning ovarian and cervical cancer were found. Deciding to have a full hysterectomy was a fast and easy choice for her to make.  

“I really didn’t have a chance to really think about it because all I was thinking about was living,” McKnight said.

She continued to stay optimistic with her decision.

“I teach that [mindset] to my students – you have to make a negative into a positive. You need to take lemons and make lemonade,” McKnight said.

When making a choice on what to do, she thought about her age and what she has done in her life.

“I’m in a little bit [of a] different position than other people because… I’m 60,” McKnight said. “I didn’t care [about] not having those organs anymore. It’s not like I’m gonna miss them.”

She advises everybody to be aware that seeing your doctor for your exams is vital to preventing any health issues or catching those already present before they progress.

“Go to the doctor and get your check-ups. I tell my students all the time – we are proactive in medicine, not reactive with medicine. Don’t wait for it to happen, stop it from going to happen,” McKnight said.

She also wants them to learn about their own body and its functions, to do their independent part in staying healthy.

“Listen to what your doctor says. The key thing is to read and understand how your body works. Your body is telling you something. And if you understand how the body works, you know if something’s wrong,” McKnight said.

After staying true to her own advice, the precancerous cells were noticed.

“We found it before it became a problem and we took it right away. The best way to survive cancer is to find it early,” McKnight said.

McKnight found a lesson for herself after her precancer diagnosis.

“I’ve learned to not take my health for granted,” McKnight said.

Photo By: Izabella DeLaGarza

She recommends racking up your leave days until you absolutely need to use them, so you can utilize them in situations such as hers if you need to.

“I think when you get to a job, you should not take leave within the first five years of your job. Because if you get sick, you need that time off. I worked here 15 years before I really took any time off. I had 150 days leave,” McKnight said.

She had always put so much, especially at Judson, before herself. She is going to live differently now by prioritizing herself more than she did before.

“I learned that you can’t really give so much of yourself; you gotta have a balance. And I was constantly coming in. I was always thinking about my students, always thinking about the job, always thinking here. [I] neglected my health. I’m not gonna do that now,” McKnight said.

McKnight faced something concerning, but she is proof that if you find the problem quickly, you can fix it even quicker. As long as you are knowledgeable about your body and taking care of yourself, you can help keep yourself at your best.

“If you start right, you end right. If you start wrong, you end wrong,” McKnight said.