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Mansfield Magazine

MISD Superintendent Informs Community Cancer has Returned

Apr 08, 2015 11:48AM ● Published by Kevin

Dr. Jim Vaszauskas Superintendent of Schools. Photo courtesy of Mansfield ISD.

Mansfield ISD superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas addressed the community in an email Tuesday evening reporting his cancer, thymoma, has returned. He reported his treatments could begin as early as April 21, but he will need to take some time off.

A special meeting will take place on April 15 to appoint an acting superintendent in his absence. 

"This will be an experienced, trustworthy leader who will capably lead our district while I am away," he wrote. "I expect to return for convocation in August--if not sooner--and cannot wait to return to this job I love. You amaze me every day with your dedication to our students."

Vaszauskas was named the district's superintendent in July 2013. He reported on Aug. 30 of the same year that he had a mass removed from under his ribs on Aug. 12. He was treated for six weeks in September and October of the same year.

According to cancer.gov, "thymoma and thymic carcinoma are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form on the outside surface of the thymus.

"The thymus, a small organ that lies in the upper chest under the breastbone, is part of the lymph system. It makes white blood cells, called lymphocytes, that protect the body against infections.

"There are different types of tumors of the thymus. Thymomas and thymic carcinomas are rare tumors of the cells that are on the outside surface of the thymus. The tumor cells in a thymoma look similar to the normal cells of the thymus, grow slowly, and rarely spread beyond the thymus. On the other hand, the tumor cells in a thymic carcinoma look very different from the normal cells of the thymus, grow more quickly, and have usually spread to other parts of the body when the cancer is found. Thymic carcinoma is more difficult to treat than thymoma."

Signs and symptoms include chest pain, a cough that doesn't go away, and trouble breathing.

Here is a complete copy of Tuesday night's letter:

Dear Mansfield ISD Community:   

As I have been out on campuses this spring, I have been thinking quite a lot about our MISD family. In talking with many of our faculty and staff members, what is very clear to me is that life can be stressful and sometimes very hard.

Members of our MISD family have lost parents, spouses, close friends, and even children. Many are dealing with sickness, stress, loss, grief, aging parents or grandparents, parenthood, and incredibly busy lives--all while trying to do the best jobs that we can for our students and for this wonderful district.

I hope during this spring, you will take the time to care for yourself, and I hope you will also be patient. You never know what your colleagues and students are going through. Morale can get low, and I recognize that; however, if you truly pause and look around, blessings are all around us, things for which we should be thankful.

That being said, my family is no different from yours, and we do have challenges in front of us. Many of you know that approximately 18 months ago, I had treatment for a form of cancer called thymoma. Unfortunately, it has returned, and I will need to pause and get treatment, which will include surgery and radiation. The prognosis is really positive.

This treatment is expected to start soon, possibly as early as April 21. However, I want you to know that I am blessed in many ways:

  • The cancer has not spread and it is small, about the size of a quarter.
  • My surgeon at M.D. Anderson is fully confident that the procedure to remove the tumor, and my recovery, will be smooth.
  • I work in a community and a district that has a deep and abiding faith, and I know that my family will be lifted up in your thoughts and prayers.
  • We have a fantastic leadership team that will continue to guide this district while I am out.
  • I work for a wonderful, supportive school board.
  • I have you who will continue to care for our precious students.

Our Board will be holding a special meeting on April 15 to appoint an acting superintendent. This will be an experienced, trustworthy leader who will capably lead our district while I am away. I expect to return for convocation in August--if not sooner--and cannot wait to return to this job I love.

You amaze me every day with your dedication to our students.

Thank you,

Dr. Jim Vaszauskas

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