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'It wasn’t a stroke, you did have a seizure, and it’s a brain tumor': Long-time Chandler kindergarten teacher is in the fight of her life

The Chandler community is raising thousands of dollars to support a kindergarten teacher and mom of four who was just diagnosed with a brain tumor.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — An East Valley community is rallying around a long-time teacher after her life took a 180-degree turn overnight.

Kim Shuck has spent her entire career, nearly 20 years, inspiring hundreds of elementary students. And now she has had to do something she never thought she’d do at this stage of her life - step away from teaching for a moment.

Now, colleagues and friends are surrounding her when she needs it most. 

“I was walking to the nurses office and suddenly my whole left leg started to go numb," Shuck said. 

Shuck, a young and healthy mom of four, was teaching her kindergarten class at Carlson Elementary in Chandler when she started experiencing shocking symptoms in the middle of the school day. 

“The whole time I’m thinking 'this isn’t really happening,'" she said. "I’m going to cause a scene and everything is going to be fine.”

Miraculously, Shuck was able to find coverage for her classroom, leave and walk to the nurse's office just in time for the worst to hit.

“I had a grand mal seizure," she said. "She (the nurse) held me in the chair until the principal who just got on campus helped lower me to the ground.”

Andy Morgan, the Carlson Elementary principal, happened to be nearby and made it to the nurse's office, too, to help Shuck.

“(I) just kind of stepped in and all of a sudden kind of caught her as she was falling and going into a seizure," Morgan said. 

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With the seizure finally ending, Shuck was rushed to the hospital, her diagnosis, unthinkable.

“It wasn’t a stroke, you did have a seizure, and it’s a brain tumor," she said. "All within 45 minutes. So it’s like I was teaching an hour ago and then hearing just my whole world definitely changed that day.”

An educator, now spending more time in hospitals and at home than in the classroom. Since November, Shuck has had brain surgery and is now preparing for months of chemo, radiation and side effects.

“My plan is to be wearing some beanies for a while even in April and May when it’s a little too hot and weird," she said. "It might just be hat day every day in Mrs. Shuck's class, and that’s OK.”

While she can’t teach, her school team and families have been working behind the scenes.

The day after her birthday, they planned a big surprise at the park next to their school. Tiny hands and hugs of current and former students surrounded Shuck, the best medicine.

Teacher Christine Tellez has taught with Shuck for more than a decade and was at the park to see her.

“It was super emotional," Tellez said. "It’s been hard to stay happy and just be there for her because she would be the same for any one of us.”

Angie Rivas is Shuck's "work-wife" and said she is always the one behind the scenes giving back to others. 

“I did tell her that I feel like it’s a full circle of kindness coming back to her," Rivas said. "For years and years she’s just been the kindest most nurturing caring person.”

A GoFundMe, started by Shuck's team, has also raised thousands of dollars for her while medical bills rack up. 

“I was just blown away," she said. "I never expected something like that. I just feel so fortunate to be loved by so many, because I’m usually the one on the other side trying to rally the troops.”

Shuck is feeling the army fighting for her in every way, so she can focus on the fight of her life. The dedicated teacher said she hopes to be able to return to the classroom and teach as soon as she can and doctors allow.

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