Harry Hurst paraeducator cares for mother through cancer battle

The pride in Tomeka Evans’ voice was unmistakable as she spoke of her mother.

“My mom’s faith has never wavered … her strength is excellent and her spirits have been great from the beginning,” Evans said.

She was speaking during a time in which a frightening challenge faces her family, as Gloria Evans was diagnosed with bladder cancer in May. Treatment officially began recently, with Gloria to undergo six weeks of chemotherapy as well as 20 days of radiation. Gloria has also been going through dialysis for renal failure.

Tomeka, a paraeducator at Harry Hurst Middle School and a resident of New Sarpy, has begun a leave of absence from the classroom to help her mother through the situation, including providing transportation to and from the hospital. Monday was Tomeka’s last day with her students for the time being. She is her mother’s primary caretaker.

“(Hurst) has been really supportive. Our principal (Dr. David Schexnaydre) asks me about it and always stresses to keep my focus on her being alright,” Tomeka said. “We’ve been seeing how things line up, but right now I have to take off to get her back and forth as needed. I’m an only child … it’s just me and my mother.”

Tomeka is walking alongside her mother into the latter’s battle, while at the same time the two have been also dealing with Hurricane Ida fallout. Gloria’s home was destroyed by Ida, while Tomeka’s took damage, and the two have been living in a FEMA trailer.

Getting things lined up for Gloria’s upcoming step wasn’t easy, Tomeka said.

“We’ve known about the cancer since May, but the process about getting insurance on that has taken some time,” Tomeka said. “Thursday, though, we went to the doctor, dropped everything off, and from there it kind of took me off guard how soon we were going to start … but we finally got everything going.”

Tomeka said her mother’s faith in God is helping to guide her through this.

“She’s accepted the Lord as her savior and she is in good spirits,” Tomeka said. “Seeing her in such great spirits is helping me, honestly. It’s hard on me some days. But she is great.”

Though it has just been a temporary return for now, Tomeka said getting back into the classroom since school began last month has provided a welcome distraction at times.

“I love my students,” she said. “You’re always thinking about it, about what’s going on, but being at school with them takes my mind off some of those things going on in everyday life.”

To help pay for supplies, transportation and medical fees, Tomeka began a GoFundMe fundraiser page (titled “My mother”).

She also has preliminary plans ongoing to hold a bake sale fundraiser sometime in the upcoming weeks. Tomeka is an avid baker – and knows plenty who share her passion for it.

“Baking’s my happy place,” Tomeka said. “I’ve been in contact with a few of my friends to come on board and help us out … right now, we’re just hoping for the best. Even after the six weeks (of treatment), we still don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re just hoping and praying that everything works out.”


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