‘Inspirational’ pregnant teacher fights cancer

SHERWOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — A Sherwood teacher is both fighting for her life and getting ready to welcome a new life into the world.

When the Sherwood teacher was 16 weeks pregnant, she found out she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Briana Dannen inside a classroom at Sherwood High School, Feb. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Briana Dannen inside a classroom at Sherwood High School, Feb. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“I didn’t have any emotional reaction to it at first because I just couldn’t believe it,” she told KOIN 6 News. “Then I came home and told my husband and we had a good cry.”

Doctors plan to induce her healthy baby girl in March. Soon after, Dannen will begin more aggressive chemotherapy.

She said the bond she’s developed with her unborn daughter is “a great bond because we’ve been through this together, so I’ll be able to tell her one day how strong she was.”

That is a conversation she knows well.

“Thirty-two years ago when my mom was pregnant with me, she had breast cancer as well. And she’s still here, so that’s an inspiration to me.”

She, her mother and five of her aunts all were diagnosed with breast cancer. One aunt and her grandmother died from the disease, “but the rest have led great lives.”

Her fighting spirit prevailed as treatment began soon after she was diagnosed in October. She finds strength in her husband, their 1-year-old daughter and their soon-to-be second child.

“If it wasn’t for them, it’d be a much harder fight.”

Some of the bracelets Briana Dannen wears. The pregnant teacher is battling cancer, Feb. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Some of the bracelets Briana Dannen wears. The pregnant teacher is battling cancer, Feb. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Through it all, Briana Dannen is still teaching Interior Design classes at Sherwood High School while she is sharing life lessons.

“She is such an inspiration to everybody,” said junior Megan Ouellette. “She has definitely changed on the outside, but on the inside she’s always that wonderful, bright person.”

Gail Cutsforth, one of Dannen’s close friends, started a crowdfunding effort through Go Fund Me to help defray her medical costs. To date, the effort has raised more than $11,000.

The unwavering support and compassion from her students and the Sherwood community is a blessing she’s come to cherish. They are loving qualities she plans to teach her own children.

“Staying positive is the way to beat this, and I will,” she said. “Deep down, I know I will.”

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