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Wellsville teacher has support of entire community as she undergoes cancer treatment

By Michelle Tevis, Lawrence Journal World reporter

Avery Unruh, 8, wanted to give something to other kids whose family members were undergoing cancer treatment.

Avery had seen how well her mom, Ann, was cared for during her stay at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and in the oncology department as she is undergoing treatment for colon cancer.

“Avery wanted to do something for the kids that may have to stay in the hospital for long periods of time,” said Ann Unruh, 37, of Wellsville.


Wellsville kindergarten teacher Ann Unruh has received unwavering support from family members, friends and the community of Wellsville as she undergoes treatment for colon cancer.

So she decided to do something with the allowance money she'd been earning — $7 per week. She had been dividing it up into three cups marked “Give,” “Spend” and “Save.”

“She placed it all into the ‘give’ cup, so she could buy crayons and coloring books for the kids,” Ann Unruh said.

It’s that kind of generosity and support that buoys Ann Unruh during her cancer treatments. She recently received the fifth of 12 chemotherapy treatments.

“My support structure is phenomenal from family, friends and community. They have all been so supportive!” she said in an email.

A friend set up a Meal Train account, an online scheduling application that allows family and friends to organize meal delivery for people going through birth, surgery or illness.

Her neighbor sold 450 “Team Unruh” shirts as a fundraiser, and the Wellsville Friends Foundation hosted a Dice Run to help support her, she said.

“I feel truly blessed to live in Wellsville and have the love and support of such a great town,” she said.

Unruh makes an impact in return. She has been a teacher in Wellsville for 16 years — second grade for two years and kindergarten for the past 14 years.

“I truly love teaching 5- and 6-year-olds. I'm the first one to make the best school impression, and I love all the hugs and compliments they give,” she said.

Unruh’s colon cancer was diagnosed at the end of June, and she began receiving chemo treatments at the end of July. She had a tumor present, but surgeons were successful in removing it.

“They didn't have to remove as much of my colon as expected, and the cancer hadn't spread into any other organs or colon tissue,” she said. She is still receiving chemo as a precaution.

Unruh has worked hard to keep a positive attitude and strong faith during the diagnosis, surgical and treatment phases of her cancer treatment.

“At 37 years of age, I never would have thought I would hear the words 'You have cancer,'” she said.

She was shocked, afraid and sad but was determined that it not get the better of her.

“I have kept my head held high and a smile on my face, and I know that the good Lord is watching over me every step of the way,” she said.

Her advice to others in treatment, as well as those supporting cancer patients: Don’t give up.

“Fight the good fight!” she said.

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