Chemistry teacher Windi Rader laughs as she talks with students rushing between classes at Madison Central High School.
Madison County, KY | WINDI RADER

Little Things

“I would spend hours in this chair while going through chemo," said Windi Rader, of Richmond, Ky., while balancing a pink-ribbon-adorned coffee tumbler atop the headrest of her worn recliner. “I would sit here and just look at the picture from my wedding and think, 'I'm never going to look like that again.'"
Rader was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2019 and spent the rest of that year going in and out of surgery and chemotherapy. Just two weeks after her double mastectomy, she returned to teaching science at Madison Central High School and Eastern Kentucky University.

“The kids needed me, especially my AP Chemistry students,” Rader said. “I couldn’t let them down.”

Initially, Rader made it her priority to not let her diagnosis impact anyone else in her life. Yet her friends continued to step up to try to make her life easier during this challenging time.

“My friend (Whitney) came and washed my hair for me because I couldn’t take a shower for a week,” she recounted.

Windi sits in a pew at Gray Hawk Baptist Church and prays.
Rader lowers her head in prayer while attending the Sunday service at Gray Hawk Baptist Church. Her faith played a big role during her battle with cancer.
“Every night I lay down and pray, 'Oh God, don’t let it come back.' ”

With her cancer in remission, Rader had a chance in the fall of 2021 to reflect on what she learned from this experience. She says that her diagnosis taught her to appreciate the little things in her life – driving her daughter to swim practice, teaching her students about molar mass, and going out to dinner with her friends.

“Every night I lay down and pray, ‘Oh God, don’t let it come back.’”