(NEW YORK POST) – A Florida public school teacher battling colon cancer ran out of paid sick days — that is, until a viral Facebook post prompted teachers all over the state to donate their own.
Robert Goodman, 56, was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in April. The 10th-grade teacher at Palm Gardens High School missed 38 days after his first surgery.
Knowing he needed at least 20 more days to complete his chemotherapy treatment, he posted a cry for help on Facebook on July 23.
“If I can get 20 more sick days from any teacher or district employee volunteers that would allow me to take more time to recover in battle through chemo for 12 weeks which should be enough time for me to complete at least the treatment so if any of my teacher friends are out there spread the word for me I would appreciate it thank you so much,” Goodman wrote.
Goodman received an outpouring of support and within four days had accrued 75 days — enough sick days to take off an entire semester. He plans to return to work on Jan. 7.
School employees that are part of the Florida Retirement System can transfer sick leave credits to one another, Kathy Burstein, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County School District, told the Sun Sentinel.
“Educators all over the country were reaching out to me to donate their sick days, even professors over at Florida Atlantic University,” Goodman told CNN. “I felt guilty because I knew there were people who had it much worse than me.”
Goodman — who has taught for 25 years — isn’t surprised fellow educators were so generous with their sick days.
“Teachers are always giving all the time,” he told the Sun Sentinel. “When one of their own needs help they’ll always step up.”
Goodman says people also offered him money, which he refused. He explained the paid sick days teachers donated to him are the equivalent to paid work and are keeping him from going bankrupt.
Goodman said the experience reminded him of why he became a teacher.
“There are hard parts of being a teacher, the many years of economic issues and system changes,” he said. “[The outreach] was a nice reminder of why I really teach.”
In addition to teaching, Goodman is a songwriter whose struggle has inspired him to create new music. He hopes his story will motivate others to pay it forward.
“Anybody can get cancer, but not everyone is willing to help,” Goodman told CNN. “We all have it in us, but it’s good to get back in touch with our compassion.”