Rick Dufour’s Brave Fight


It brings everything into clearer focus and allows us to see the what’s really important through the noise. When someone is fighting for their life, someone you know and respect, the way they conduct themselves has a powerful effect on your own approach to life.

I am speaking of Rick Dufour, former Principal, Superintendent, and with his wife Becky, easily the foremost proponents of Professional Learning Communities and much of what makes up good practice in today’s educational research and practice. Like many of you, I’ve had the chance to spend time with the Dufours and I know not only their professionalism but the kindness they show toward all.

About a year ago in October 2014, Rick was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, though he had never smoked a cigarette in his life. In fact, Rick is generally a very healthy man; I remember seeing him early on the mornings of his conferences at the Grappone Center in Concord, New Hampshire in his workout clothes having just had a early morning run. But now, Rick is clearly running a race for his life. He is aggressively fighting to at least extend his life, even as he is praying for a cure.

I write about Rick because he has been documenting his travails on the well known blog Caring Bridge, a non-profit site that allows those with life threatening illnesses to articulate their thoughts. What he has to say about his wife, his illness, and the blessings he has received in his life, has to be read.

I first found out about his illness from his wife Becky after our NHASCD Executive Director Susan Copely wrote to her. This is from November 16, 2014:

Hi Susan,
Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, we are facing some big challenges. Rick was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer…for a person who’s never smoked a day in his life, the diagnosis came as a complete shock to us and his doctors. We went to Sloan Kettering for surgery in early October, but they were unable to complete the surgery – the cancer had spread too far, but the spread had not been detected on previous CT & PET scans. Bottom line, Rick is still healing from the surgery and he started chemo on Friday. If you’d like to know more, you can register to receive email updates from Rick and me on the following site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/rickdufour/journal

Please give our best to the rest of the great folks at NHASCD,

Rick is actually doing quite well at the moment. He speaks and travels regularly, he still plays plenty of tennis, one of his favorite pastimes, and most of all, he is enjoying life with his “chemosabe” Becky.

Instead of quoting Rick’s words from the blog, I encourage you to register at Rick’s site and you’ll have a chance to read some of the most poignant words you’ve read in a long time.

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