Five words that changed me…by @el_timbre

You have a little cancer...

On December 14th, 2011, five words changed my life. At that point, my family and my survival were brought sharply into focus: work didn’t matter anymore.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Emma Bell and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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I remember going to school the next day to sort out my things and walked past two of SLT in the corridor. “God she’s as hard as nails,” one of them said to the other. He couldn’t have been more wrong. My “brave face” was on. I was there to finish a chapter, no, finish a book. Turn the last page as a HoD, and start writing a new story…

After 6 months of treatment, I did go back to the school, but I couldn’t be a Head of Department anymore. I went through the motions, doing observations, writing schemes of work, chairing meetings, but it didn’t have the impetus that it once had.

I knew I had to leave for good, and once I got through the barrier of thinking I had to be loyal to the school who had supported me while I was off work, I started looking for a new job.

I had plenty of time during my treatment to evaluate what direction I wanted my career to go. (The other epiphanies I had about myself and my family are for another time… perhaps after a few glasses of wine!) I was born to be a teacher.

I love teaching. I was not meant to be a manager. I took a leap. A big one. From being Head of Maths at an 11-16 Academy to becoming a Maths Tutor at an FE College.

I made the right decision.

Since starting at the college, I’ve had more opportunities to develop my practice, I’ve been able to hone my skills of teaching, and I’ve been able to help so many students in the process.

I don’t miss the bureaucracy. I don’t miss the feeling of not being trusted. I don’t miss being under constant scrutiny from all levels and all angles.

I’ve spoken at conferences, I’ve held a TeachMeet, my opinion has been valued, I’ve got my mojo back. So those five words that the consultant uttered four years ago changed my life for the better.

Yes, I went through hell with treatment.
Yes, I cried and shouted and prayed.

But those five words
“You have a little cancer”
…made me who I am today. And I like who I am.


Emma Bell is a Mum. Wife. FE Maths. Passionate about a certain Doctor, maths, teaching & making people smile.


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