Supporting Tinelli


Tinelli’s bond with daughter Anna Tinelli grows through these hard times. Photo sent in by: Anna Tinelli

Milana Ilickovic, Photography Editor

A brighter tomorrow.

Mathematics teacher and mother of three, Kristy Tinelli, has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has support from all sides.

There are a lot of adjustments to be made in this new situation in Tinelli’s life. Many factors and support systems, such as people in her life, are helping her along this journey. Tinelli and her family are keeping a positive attitude through this process.

“The stress and unknowing is the hardest part at the beginning. So like when you’re diagnosed, you don’t know the details and it takes a few weeks to get the details. So like that unknowing stage is the worst because you fear the worst. But once you sort of get your exact diagnosis and a plan, it’s a little easier to tackle and just think of it like a plan,” Tinelli said. 

“I’m two out of six rounds of chemo now so that it’ll continue through the beginning of November,” Tinelli said.

Her chemotherapy takes place every three weeks until early November to shrink the tumor before surgery. “After the first chemo treatment, the size of my tumor was reduced almost in half.  The goal is to shrink the tumor as much as possible before surgery and to kill any cancer cells that may be floating around elsewhere in my body,” Tinelli said. Tinelli’s surgery is set for this Dec. to remove the tumor along with lymph nodes. After this is complete, Tinelli should receive radiation every day for a month in Jan. 2023 to kill the remaining cancer cells. Then, she will use long-term medication to hopefully prevent reoccurrence.

“I’m still trying to teach during that time, where it might be videos or just typed notes. So it is affecting me a little bit there and like today, I’m not feeling well. So I’m taking off tomorrow but I plan to continue teaching as best as possible through this. When I have surgery, which will be in December, I will probably miss two weeks of school, but it kind of coincides with our holiday break so that won’t be as bad,” Tinelli said. Tinelli has a lot on her plate, balancing a busy life with her job, her at-home life, and her kids. As a hustler, it’s been harder for Tinelli to take it easy and she’s been doing everything to keep up the committed spirit. 

“I’m always used to her wanting to do a project every time I’m around her whether it’s like doing something at school or like building a deck or something. But now, after she gets done with the treatments she does, she can’t do anything. She just sleeps all day. So it’s just a lot to get used to,” Tinelli’s son, Jack Tinelli said. 

“I always stay super busy and don’t relax much. And you know, I’m still going pretty strong but like my physical capabilities are much less than they usually are. So I’m still going to my kids’ sports games as much as possible and in between chemo treatments, I usually get a good week. And so that good week, I can get a lot more stuff done around the house. But overall, just my physical ability like working in the yard, or working on house projects is limited quite a bit,” Tinelli said. 

It was a very quick change in Tinelli’s life and takes a toll on her kids as well. “The treatments themselves are kind of stressful just because there’s so many complications that can go on like, last Tuesday, she had an asthma attack and I was like flipping out but she was fine. She was calmer than me,” Jack Tinelli said. It is a big responsibility for her children to handle, taking care of their mother in a hard time, but it is also a learning opportunity. “The hardest part is just not being able to help her like we can clean house and stuff, but we can’t take away any pain or, you know, being scared of losing her. You know, we can’t change that fear,” Anna Tinelli said.

Breast cancer is pretty common, and according to the National Breast Cancer Association, it affects one out of every eight women, but this doesn’t make the issue less of a concern. Since Tinelli is currently in the process of chemotherapy, side effects such as fatigue, aching, dizziness, hair loss, and other restricting factors will arise soon. Tinelli would like to be able to work as much as possible and has medicines that could cancel out these effects. 

“She’s really strong and she’s the strongest person I know. Especially when it comes to stuff like this,” Anna Tinelli said. Tinelli not only inspires those around her and those at Bullitt East, but her children are seeing an example of bravery in their mother. “She’s trying to come to school as much as possible. I think she’s only going to miss Fridays every other week. And then she missed today because she had another appointment, unfortunately, but yeah, she’s handling it really well. She’s been tougher than I would and she’s still going to our games the days after the treatments which I think is insane,” Jack Tinelli said. Tinelli’s strong spirit and hope through this battle are what help her keep up with her kids’ events along with her busy schedule. This wouldn’t be easy to achieve without all the help she receives from the community.

“I’ve just found a lot of support systems with friends that have put together meals where they deliver meals. And I have friends that have done T-shirts for fundraising,” Tinelli said. A pink-out is the theme for the football game on Oct. 21. T-shirts for this theme have been designed by senior Rachel Laggerman, and the shirt sales will raise money for the American cancer society, donating in Tinelli’s name.

“We have a really good community. And she has amazing friends and family and friends, and they’ve all been there and will stay at our house…so it made it really easy,” Anna Tinelli said. These positive lights in Tinelli’s life make this struggle so much easier for her and her family.

Bullitt East has Tinelli’s back, as well as all family friends, staff members, and students throughout the school. “It’s really early on to know the outcome, like what the positive things are going to be, but it does kind of change my perspective on just sort of daily routine and not taking things for granted as much and kind of figuring out how to balance you know, what you’re given,” Tinelli said. 

The future is bright for Tinelli and her family, as they are keeping their faith and focusing on the good and the support they receive. “I hope in the end that I am free and clear by the spring. And then I feel like some of my role would be to help others that are going through something similar,” Tinelli. The Tinelli family holds a special place in their hearts for others and would enjoy giving back to help those in a similar situation. Everyone is hoping for the best for Tinelli, and this support she has now will only continue to grow.