SUFFOLK, Va. - Nowadays, Heather Cadorette spends her time in the garden at her parents' Suffolk home.
“I make pickles and salsa, and like I said, it's just so wonderful,” Cadorette explained to News 3 inside the garden.
It’s a much different life than the days she spent behind the walls of King's Fork High School in Suffolk.
In 2007, she was named Teacher of the Year.
“I got into teaching kind of by accident, but I loved it. It was my life for so long," Cadorette said.
That all changed in 2008 when doctors found a tumor on her brain.
“With the short-term memory loss, every year you get 300 new names and faces to remember, and it’s just very hard to keep them all straight,” the 45-year-old said.
After losing her job, Cadorette and her husband were forced to move in with her parents.
“The pharmacy bills are crippling. I’ll be on the medication for the rest of my life, then the surgery the last time was almost 100 grand. I had insurance that time and now,” she told News 3 reporter Brian Hill.
She’s now facing more debt.
After more than 10 years without major health issues, she was back in the hospital last week.
“They removed my eye orbit, cheekbone and half of my skull. I had a tumor the size of my fist with lobes coming off of it behind this eye,” she said.
To help ease the mounting stress and bills, longtime friend Deborah Perry is hoping donations through GoFundMe will help.
“I can’t imagine what that kind of financial pressure feels like on top of just recovering,” Perry mentioned.
Cadorette admits she worried about what’s ahead but said she's taking things day by day.
“Life is going on. I look forward to tomorrow,” Cadorette said.