Robert Goodman is a 56-year-old history teacher at Palm Beach Gardens High in Florida. In May of this year he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Over the past couple of months he has been off from work, and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment and has been in and out of surgery. Over the course of the treatment process, Goodman has been documenting his journey on social media. As the weeks went by he started to realize that the school year was getting closer, and he didn't have enough sick days to cover the amount of time he would need for treatment and healing.
Goodman reviewed the leave policy for his school district, but found he was 20 days short to qualify for the "catastrophic leave" policy. Goodman told BuzzFeed that while undergoing chemo he simply couldn't go to therapy at 5:00 a.m. and have the energy to be at school to teach at 7:15 a.m. However, his school system has a practice where other employees can donate their days to a colleague if need be.
Thinking quickly on July 23, Goodman posted an appeal on his Facebook account asking people for help.
Urgent Help Now: Battling Cancer Chemo: I work at Palm Beach Gardens High School — I’m looking into catastrophic leave of absence by the school district but I’m short 20 sick days to qualify for that. Already used 38 days this year which is all I had left as I was sick a couple years ago and used about two weeks. 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 and 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. You can email Human Resources to donate. If not I’ll be reporting back to work on August 6 and I will never have another opportunity to apply for the leave of absence. Thank you all either way for your support during this time in my life.
The plea went viral, and got and unexpected wonderful result. Within four days, Goodman had 100 sick days donated from his colleagues! That included other teachers, administrators, and even cafeteria workers. It was enough for Goodman to take the whole semester off to focus on therapy and healing.
Goodman went on to tell BuzzFeed that the responses from his coworkers were "tremendous" and "humbling," and he is very thankful for what they have done for him. He also added that it's started a conversation online on issues around sick leave in this country.
Goodman has since been flooded with messages of support from several fellow patients, cancer survivors, and family members of people with cancer. The common sentiment is that they want him to focus on healing and getting better. Goodman told BuzzFeed that he plans to do just that.
Get well soon, Robert!
Share This Article
Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!