‘Beloved’ Virginia teacher who vowed to ‘live each day to the fullest’ after cancer diagnosis dies

Posted at 7:53 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 19:53:25-04

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. -- A beloved educator in Central Virginia who inspired thousands after her diagnosis with a terminal illness died Friday.

Peggy Myrick was a teacher in Hanover County as well as an assistant principal at Northumberland High School and principal at Northumberland Middle School for the 2016-2017 school year before she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in October of 2016.

"It is with a heavy and broken heart that I pass on the news that our beloved Peggy Myrick has passed away today at 12:17 p.m.," Northumberland County Public Schools Director of Instruction Amy S. Lamb wrote.

"Our community in Northumberland loves Peggy," Lamb added.

Myrick also taught Spanish at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Hanover County for 12 years.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of Ms. Myrick’s passing. During her tenure at Stonewall Jackson Middle School, she taught Spanish and served as Department Chair," Hanover County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill said. "She was a dedicated educator and was much loved by her students, their families, and her colleagues. Peg was strong, fearless, and passionate during all phases of her life. She serves as a role model for us all.”

Remembering Peg (SOURCE: Northumberland County Public Schools)

Remembering Peg (SOURCE: Northumberland County Public Schools)

Myrick's final post earlier this month on her "Peg's Cancer Journey" blog revealed she was in hospice care.

"I know I have been on social media less frequently, but honestly most days I just don’t have the energy for it. But I am feeling pretty good today, so I wanted to update you on how I’ve been," Myrick wrote on Aug. 9.

Myrick expressed her gratitude to the hard-working team keeping her as "comfortable as possible."

"The good news is that if I have to be in a bed the rest of my life and be in one room, this one is about as cozy as it gets," Myrick wrote. "It is a little surreal to be living in my parents’ dining room – something I never pictured when we had thanksgiving meals in here as a kid! – but Pops has helped me transform the room into my own comfy oasis. There are curtains on the doorways for privacy, blackout curtains on the window whenever I need to nap during the day, and I’ve decorated with pictures and items that mean a lot to me. I am very comfortable and find a lot of peace here."

"That is where I am at with my journey right now. I am at peace with that.”

"That is where I am at with my journey right now. I am at peace with that.”

Teacher: 'It's not how long you live, it's how you live each day'

The Chester native, who was featured in a Heroes Among Us report in February of 2019, reflected on the devastating diagnosis she received on Halloween in 2016.

“In my heart and my gut I knew something was wrong,” Myrick said. “I was misdiagnosed for ten months because I was told I was too young for colorectal cancer.”

Then a colonoscopy revealed the truth.

“So to wake up and find out I did have cancer, and that it had spread to my liver, was a shock,” Myrick said.

After Myrick learned the clinical trial she was taking part in, which initially showed promise, but was unsuccessful, she said she was at peace.

“The only thing you’re guaranteed when we’re born is that we will die. It's not how long you live, it's how you live each day,” Myrick said.

Myrick was also an ambassador for the Fight Colorectal Cancer group and was selected be one of the faces of the organization on a billboard in Times Square in March.

“We’re encouraging others to stay up to date on their screenings and really listen to their body,” Myrick said.

Peg Myrick

Peg Myrick

Myrick: 'No one is guaranteed another day'

The 39-year-old talked about tacking her bucket list while raising awareness about colorectal cancer.

“I think it’s a lesson for me even before cancer -- I should have and encourage others to live life like it's your last," Myrick said. "No one is guaranteed another day -- cancer or not.”

Myrick chose not to focus on the diagnosis, but making new memories.

“From here on out I want to spend time with my loved ones and my family and close friends. Check things off the bucket list and try to enjoy every day,” Myrick said.