Janice Kneisley fights for others to have better days while fighting for her life

Remarkable Women

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — KSNT News is recognizing remarkable women in our community. In December, we asked you to nominate an incredible woman in your life. From those nominations, a selection committee chose four finalists in our community to share their stories.

One of the four finalists is Janice Kneisley, who has no idea about the light that others see in her.

She’s in her first year as a full time special education teacher. She takes classes at Fort Hays State University to get her master’s degree. She’s also a wife and mom to two boys in college.

“I’ve gotten all A’s so far!” Kneisley said.

Unfortunately, her list of responsibilities goes on.

“I’ve been sick. This past fall, I came down with cancer, so I’ve been battling that since October.”

It was on her short walk to work, to Hiawatha Elementary School, when she knew something was wrong.

Photo From: Kevin Kneisley

“This fall, I just started coughing and couldn’t get over the cough,” Kneisley said.

It was stage 3 lung cancer.

“When somebody says the ‘big c’, you don’t know the outcome,” her husband Kevin said.

Having never smoked, this came as a surprise to their family. However, it was not the first time being told a battle was in their future.

After Janice was diagnosed for the first time in 2005, Kevin
and their two sons shaved their heads to support their mom.

“In 2005, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. We dealt with that, and for 14 years I was cancer-free, didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “The first week I was kind of numb, when I heard this diagnosis. I was more scared this time, because my first cancer was stage 1. This was stage 3. So when they staged it, I was thinking ‘I have got to do as much as I can in the next few years because I don’t know if I’ll be here.”

The ‘big c’ hasn’t slowed Kneisley down at all.

“We had to leave at 6:30 in the morning from here [Hiawatha], and drive to Topeka every morning for radiation. We were usually back by about 9:30 and then I was back at school at 10:00.”

As Kneisley said this out loud for the first time, she kind of laughed at herself.

“Yeah, my plate is pretty full!”

But that doesn’t matter, because she wants to get to her 17 students each day.

“I’ve been there every day that I possibly can, even when my husband and boss are saying ‘stay home, stay home.’ I just push myself because they just feed my soul.”

Kevin and Janice Kneisley

If you ask Kneisley and her husband how cancer has impacted their lives, their outlook is a bit different than others.

“The cancer itself draws you closer. It brings a certain joy to be able to support her, but it’s scary. Your mind wanders off and you think about, what happens if this takes her? But I am thankful that we have such a faith and so many people praying for her.”

Kevin Kniesley

It sure doesn’t stop her from thinking of others either, even on the bad days.

“There are some hard days, I just have some quiet time to myself and just think things through and then get over having a pity party and then move on,” Kneisley said. “Do you know there are so many people that have it worse than what I could have it?”

So while Janice doesn’t always see what others do, everyone else sure disagrees.

“I don’t think of myself as a remarkable woman, because I just got cancer. Everyone else is remarkable because they’ve all stepped up and helped me.”

Her husband thinks otherwise.

“Not only is she a remarkable woman, but she is a strong woman,” Kevin said.

Good news for Kneisley, at one of her latest doctor appointments, they heard the word ‘curable’ for the first time. She said that possibility gives her family all the joy and hope knowing they can beat this disease, once again.

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