COLOGNE, Minn. (FOX 9) - Just two weeks ago, a middle school band teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer. On her first day of chemotherapy, students and staff at Cologne Academy are taking part in an emotional sendoff.
"Cologne Academy is amazing," said Helen Suhr. "Being a teacher is amazing."
Helen Suhr has taught band at Cologne Academy for seven years. Two weeks ago, she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.
"It’s not something that you ever think you’re going to have to face," she said.
The shirts honor Mrs. Suhr as a fighter.
And now she knows that she won’t be fighting alone. Friday morning, just a few hours before undergoing her first round of chemotherapy, nearly 300 middle school students and staff show their support.
Lining a hallway, everyone was wearing a pink T-shirt with a stick figure image of Mrs. Suhr on the back -- the definition of a fighter.
"You have so many people who have your back and you don’t even know," Mrs. Suhr said. "It’s really cool."
"To me, it just represents Helen being strong and fierce," said Lynn Peterson. "That’s who she is."
And outside Mrs. Suhr's band room, a wall of hearts is posted with each one offering words of encouragement and strength.
"I just think together it’s just a great way to unite everybody and get behind her back," said eighth-grader Mason Neitzel. "And just let her know that she’s strong enough and brave enough to do it, and we believe she can."
Students have posted messages of support for Mrs. Suhr as she battles cancer.
"She would always support us throughout everything no matter how tough it was," explained eighth-grader Isabella McInnis. "So I feel like now it’s our chance to show that we support her."
"It means I can’t quit," said Mrs. Suhr. "It means that even when I’m feeling like I can’t do it, that 500 other people think I can. So, if I fall a little bit, they’re going to help me right back up."
Students and staff plan to wear their T-shirts every other Friday, when Mrs. Suhr is scheduled to undergo chemotherapy.