Assistant director continues to work while battling stage four colon cancer

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) — A Las Vegas educator battling stage four colon cancer didn’t stop her from showing up for work. She inspires many with her dedication to her work and the students continue to work during their treatment.

Rachael Peckham has spent the past 20 years as an educator, primarily as a middle school teacher, and is now an assistant principal at Coral Academy Las Vegas, Nellis Airforce Base.

“It’s life-changing for kids, it’s impacting kids, it’s what gets me up in the morning,” Peckham said.

Getting to school is now a challenge for the veteran educator every day.

“I had liver pain for about 6 months…I ignored…I was suffocated by stress,” Peckham said.

In November, she finally went to the emergency room where a mass was discovered on her liver.

“We thought it would just be a simple bowel resection…which turned out to be 17 days in hospital,” Peckham said.

Peckham was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and is currently undergoing 12 cycles of chemotherapy, one cycle every two weeks.

“My weeks off, I come to school, I do what I can,” Peckham said.

“She was always very vigilant and worked hard through it all,” said Johnathan Yutuc, principal of Coral Academy Nellis Air Force Base.

Yutuc said Peckham is an inspiration to the school and the community.

“We want to return this favor to her with all the advice and support she gave us, we want to be able to support her as much as possible,” Yutuc said.

Friends are raising money for hospital bills, a genetic test his insurance refused, and to help offset his 50% drop in income.

“When I’m not at work, I don’t get paid,” Peckham said.

Peckham will continue to work all summer. Work is a welcome distraction from his battle with cancer.

“I guess if I stop and think about it…I’m fighting for my life, but then again, that’s what you have to do. There’s no giving up…I’m totally determined to beat this,” Peckham said.

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Maria D. Ervin