Community rises to support beloved teacher
SNOHOMISH - Snohomish High School government teacher Tuck Gionet marvels at the selfless community he calls home.
The community has surrounded Gionet, who continues to teach at Snohomish High, during his journey through Stage 4 esophageal cancer that began following his diagnosis in October 2013.
Gionet described the support following his diagnosis as something truly remarkable. It’s strengthened his resolve in raising cancer awareness, continuing to fight the good fight and to remain ever-grateful of the town he calls home.
“I know I live in a great community, I know I teach in a great district, I teach in a great school and we have great kids,” Gionet said. “I guess until you really have something happen to you, you don’t fully comprehend just how great it is.”
Government teacher Tuck Gionet talks with two of his students he took to the state capitol in Olympia on Jan. 16.
After the diagnosis, school staff and community members were quick to respond and come to Gionet and his family’s aid.
The DECA business club created T-shirts with “Gionet-isms” on them to support his first round of chemotherapy and radiation in early November. A Facebook support page was set up with his name for community members to offer support and prayers.
Plus, his family was given what Gionet described as “a ton of Dream Dinners” to help provide meals during his chemotherapy treatment days.
Gionet is seen as a gentle lion on Snohomish High’s campus. Underclassmen fear him, and those who take his classes revere him.
The community’s support changed Gionet’s outlook on facing cancer.
“I think the reason I am able to handle it is because of the outstanding support that I’ve gotten from the community, the school, and the kids,” Gionet said. “It’s emotional. I could’ve never imagined that I would have gotten that much support. It has truly, truly made a difference in my approach to the cancer.”
He is currently undergoing a more aggressive regimen of treatment that began four weeks ago. That treatment involves what Gionet called an infusion of chemotherapy trips to the hospital, and oral chemo pills. He will continue that regimen until June.
Throughout all of this, Gionet still teaches in the classroom and remains the head coach of the track team.
“The kind of energy I’ve gotten from the community is not to sit at home,” he said, adding, “Cancer is tough enough without anything else, but to have it without the type of support we’ve received – I can’t even imagine what that would be like. And to see the type of support I’ve gotten, it’s a huge difference.”
Apart from his own journey with cancer, Gionet maintains his focus to keep raising awareness and funds for cancer research and treatment of others with cancer.
This year’s annual Eason Invitational track meet in April will attempt to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.
He’s also planning some hair cutting and head-shaving events to raise money for cancer awareness. The idea is still new, but it may come to fruition. Gionet is determined to keep optimism high and have fun.
For Gionet, Snohomish not only caters to outdoor adventures (he’s an avid fisherman), but also is the kind of community that, to him, has become a rare thing in today’s world. His 31 years in the area have allowed him to see that beauty.
“I swear, you could move here today, get diagnosed with something tomorrow, and have the town rally around you tomorrow,” Gionet said with a huge smile on his face. “‘It doesn’t matter – you’re in Snohomish now, we’ll take care of you. You’re part of us, we’ll take care of you.’ It’s a huge, huge difference maker.”
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