Jane Sullivan, along with her husband, Tom, decided to splurge on themselves – albeit in a practical way – after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
With a laugh, Jane said, “You may think it’s funny, but we got new windows.”
The remodeling also included installing floors for their porch and garage and a sidewalk.
Jane tried to convince Tom to get a new truck, but he did not feel one was needed at this time.
The spending spree was out of character for the Sullivans, a bit of change brought about by the medical news.
“My husband and I have always been great savers of our money, buying the cheapest things and trying to save whatever we could,” said Jane Sullivan, a 71-year-old Patton resident. “Now that we have accumulated some money through doing that, it made us start to think ‘Why are we denying ourselves things? Why aren’t we going out and buying what we want and doing what we want and things like that?’ So that has changed.”
Jane Sullivan helped save some of that money during the 33 years she spent in the Cambria Heights School District, first teaching math, then social studies.
Still today, Sullivan gets reminders of the impact she made as an elementary school teacher.
“It’s just a nice feeling to know that somebody appreciated what you did, or enjoyed your class or something about it,” she said. “It’s often odd some of the things that they remember. For example, one boy, one day told me, he said, ‘I remember you sent me out to your car to bring in the Christmas tree, and I was so excited that you picked me.’ Just some odd little thing that just touched them in some way that they still remember, so those are always nice remembrances of school years.”
Looking back at her years as a teacher, Sullivan said, “The people that I worked with were great. The school district was really great. I have no complaints about any of that. Back then, the kids pretty much listened to you and followed directions. It was a pleasure most of the time.”
Just as during her days at Cambria Heights, Sullivan is still an avid reader, a fan of numerous authors, including mystery and thriller writer Harlan Coben.
“As I used to tell the kids at school, I’ll read anything,” Sullivan said. “If I sit down and the cereal box is in front of me, I’ll read whatever is on it. And I told them to do the same thing. No matter what it is, you will learn something no matter what you read. There’s something to be learned in it.”
Sullivan kept up her reading last year when she went through breast cancer treatments.
A mammogram caught her cancer early at Stage 0. She still needed two surgeries – a lumpectomy and procedure to remove cells outside the perimeter, performed by Dr. Renee Arlow with the Conemaugh Health System – and radiation.
“The whole time I went through it, it just never really seemed to hit me how serious cancer is,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know. I just always felt like I was in the right place with the right people and everything was OK.
“Maybe not everybody feels that way. But I never was really real worried about it. They kept assuring me that this was very early and that it was not going to be a serious problem. That really helped.
“They could not have been nicer. The doctors, the nurses, everyone I dealt with could not have been nicer.”