When School Becomes Family: A Teacher’s Story in the Fight Against Cancer


Kenwood teachers and students, past and present, that participated in this year’s race to support one of their own and others fighting cancer.

Autumn Rohe

Often the place where you spend your career becomes a second home. Just like any home you hope it’s a place you feel loved and supported. For Kenwood teacher, Robin James, Kenwood is not only her second home but her second family.

Ms. Robin James is a Kenwood High School teacher and currently a cancer patient receiving treatment. She has been at Kenwood for twenty six years. During that time she also became the founder behind the Cancer Warrior 5k, which is ironic because she created it before she was diagnosed with cancer. This year, many did the race in honor or her. The first year, only $2,000 was raised, the following year, $5,000 was raised, and this year a record setting $11,000 was raised!  “Of course, getting cancer and having amazing friends and family may have helped us double our amount. I mean it may not have been the best plan I could have come up with, but it is definitely a silver lining for my situation.”

Ms. James has many colleagues, family, and friends supporting her. One of Kenwood’s staff and trusted friend/colleague of Ms. James, Ms. Cox is eager to show support for her, “When I found out about her cancer diagnosis, it took less than a second for me to remind myself of all the support that would be coming her way. She deserves nothing less. That’s what we do at Kenwood; she has led the way.”

Over 200 runners from Maryland and all over the country signed up for the Cancer Warrior 5k this year. There was also a “Ghost Runner” option so if someone couldn’t make it to the race in-person, they could run or walk the 5k in their own neighborhood.

The Cancer Warrior 5k funds are donated directly to the Jimmy V foundation, which are then used to directly fund cancer research. Jimmy V once said, “We need money for research. It may not save my life, it may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love. Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

The Cancer Warrior 5k was started by not only  Ms. James but also Kenwood teacher Ms. McNulty, former Kenwood teacher Ms. Page, and former Kenwood graduate Jenna Page. Nearly 50% of the registrants in the race are former and current Kenwood teachers and students. “It just goes to show how amazing of place Kenwood is to work and attend. Is it perfect, probably not, but the staff cares so much and the students feel that and respond in kind. The fight will continue until we have a cure,” shares James.

When hoping to find a home for her career that would also give her a second family, Ms. James found it here at Kenwood High.