Celebrating 20 years of ordinary people doing extraordinary things – the Courage to Come Back Awards highlights people in five categories who have overcome adversity or illness and who inspire and give to others.
In this third installment, we highlight the winner of the medical category: Ingrid Bates.
Ingrid Bates is a teacher known for her positive outlook on life.
Teaching is more than a job for Bates – it’s a passion. It’s a career she started later in life that became part of her journey fighting cancer, which started nine years ago with a phone call.
“The doctor said to me you likely have breast cancer, we need to do one more test and from there I was in the surgeon’s office within three days,” Bates told Global News.
She had a mastectomy and dealt with chemo and radiation, all the time just wanting to get back to teaching.
Fast forward two years and she was back in the oncologist’s office with her son at her side, this time with a diagnosis of leukemia – a side effect of the chemo.
“He looked so pale and scared,” she said. “I looked at him and the pathologist and said, ‘What does that mean, what do I have to do? Does that mean more chemo?’ And he said, ‘Yes’ and I said, ‘OK when do we do that? Let’s just get to it’.”
This battle was tougher with months in ICU and a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Bates rallied and within eight months was back in the classroom. But her fight wasn’t over. Her body was rejecting the stem cells.
But through it all, Bates maintained a positive outlook and tried to carry that through to her students.
She wasn’t shy about sharing her story and even the parents noticed the effect she had on their children.
“They keep me going too,” said Bates. “I adore their ‘aha’ moments, their excited moments. It’s all about relationships.”
This summer Bates will complete her Masters in Education but she’s not finished teaching.
She takes every chance she can to talk about being a cancer survivor and living life in the moment.
“It’s an opportunity to share a story to let people know that you can do it. You can get through that illness.”