TV Production teacher Nancy Mantelli has made her comeback after being gone for six months of the school year after she took a hiatus in October after having been diagnosed with Stage 3 C breast cancer this past August.
“I was able to come in the Friday before spring break and see them [her students] all,” she said. “It was very weird to see everybody be here. I feel like I never left, it’s the same commute and the same classroom and the same kids and I love it.”
She broke the news to her students that she had the “poison in your body” in mid-September, following a lockdown drill.
“When the whole thing was over we put the lights on and I said to them ‘Everybody stay here,’ because we were all in one place and there were no distractions and the moment was right,” Mantelli said. “I said, ‘I need to tell you that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I will be leaving next month.’ As you can imagine, you could have heard a pin drop. There was no sound.”
As expected, many of her students, including senior Jesse Benitez, were taken aback by the news.
“When she told us she was leaving because of her illness, I totally bawled my eyes out,” said Benitez. “I guess I [kind of] felt that way because it was a big shocker and I couldn’t believe at that point in time that someone I’ve known throughout my high school career would have to go through all this pain and suffering for months.”
Mantelli isn’t in the clear yet; she will be receiving more treatment next week, but the class is in full swing again.
“I can’t say I’m not excited to be working with her again! Just last week we decided that for SHOUT we’d make a podcast for the school, something she’s been wanting to do forever,” said senior Max Barrett, one of Mantelli’s students.
Mantelli also said that she now feels being a TV Production teacher is what she was born to do, because she was away from it for so long.
“I’m just so thrilled to be alive and to have such a satisfying career and it’s all going to be fine,” she said. “I’m going to be fine.”