Shauna Schultz enters her 14th year as a teacher in Richardson ISD. She taught at White Rock Elementary for six years and transferred to Lake Highlands Elementary in 2013 when her son Brandon was in the child development center.
In 2016, she felt like something was off.
“A few days after Christmas I went to the emergency room because I was noticing my legs were kind of swollen and I felt bad,” Schultz says. “They told me that I was showing signs of kidney failure, but they weren’t sure why.”
After running blood work, the doctors found cancer. A couple days later, Schultz was told it was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took a few days to diagnose because it was a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma they hadn’t seen before. The cancer was forming a protein, which deposited into Schultz’s kidneys, causing the failure.
Schultz started dialysis and chemo shots every couple of weeks. The treatment wasn’t successful, so Schultz transferred to UT Southwestern and started oral chemo.
“By Valentine’s Day of 2019, I was in remission, but back on dialysis,” Schultz says. “I never took off from work, continued to teach full time and became a single mom during that time.”
Schultz trained to do in-home dialysis with the help of her parents and a nurse.
“I have to stick myself with needles to do dialysis, hook up to my machine and learn how to set the machine up to run it,” she says. “I had to learn what to do if emergencies happen, if blood spills, so it’s a big deal.”
Schultz does four-hour treatments four days a week from her dialysis machine, which she named Lurlene after her great-grandmother. It’s fitting because she would tell her to “get on and get it done.”
“I try to squeeze in homework with my kids while I’m on treatment, just trying to do the best I can,” she says. “I applied for my kidney transplant before, but once you’ve had cancer, they want you in remission a good two to five years depending on your type of cancer.”
Schultz applied again after her two-year mark.
“The kidney board accepted my application and has put me on the official UNOS list,” she says. “They are right now testing some people that have applied to be living donors for me.”
Through these tribulations, Schultz says family and community are what kept her strong.
“When I was diagnosed, the community just kind of rallied,” she says. “We’ve had T-shirts. I came to school one day and the whole school was decorated in purple and lime green. The amount of support that I’ve gotten from my school, my staff, teammates, family and friends has kept my attitude positive, but my biggest reason for living is my kids.”
Brandon is a sixth-grader at Lake Highlands Elementary, and Shelby is a third-grader. When Schultz was diagnosed, they wanted to attend her chemo shots. When the dialysis machine was first installed at their home, Brandon wanted to learn how to help. Now, younger sister Shelby wants to learn also.
“I don’t want to see mommy hurting. I don’t want to lose mommy. I don’t want something to happen to my mom. It’s a lot on them too,” Schultz says.
As a high-risk person recovering from cancer, Schultz is a full-time virtual teacher at LHE.
“Parents have been unbelievably supportive,” she says. “A lot of them know me because I’ve been here so long I’ve taught siblings. They know my story, and they’ve asked how they can help.”
Her best friends, Kristina and Tom Crain, are her guardian angels. They took her kids for play dates during treatments and pray for her constantly.
“They have been with me every step of the way,” she says. “Tom applied to be a kidney donor, they cry with me, bring me dinner, hang out with me and have been the best friends a girl could ask for.”