Dying teacher sees America thanks to students' generosity - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Dying teacher sees America thanks to students' generosity

More than $11,000 was raised for Wistrand to fund her travels around the country. (Source: Michelle Wistrand/WTRK/CNN) More than $11,000 was raised for Wistrand to fund her travels around the country. (Source: Michelle Wistrand/WTRK/CNN)

TOMBALL, TX (KTRK/CNN) - A teacher’s dying wish was to see some of America’s most breathtaking sights, and her students helped make it happen.

In 2015 Michelle Wistrand was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue. She said she was given a two-to-five year timetable to live.

“Could be more, could be less,” she said.

So the English and language arts teacher drew up a bucket list.

“I told them my first wish was to go to the redwood forest and put my feet in the Pacific Ocean,” she said.

For her students, pitching in to help was a no-brainer.

“It’s upsetting to love someone so much and know the end is coming,” said Alana Lee, one of Wistrand’s students. “I love Mrs. Wistrand. She’s my favorite teacher.”

Fundraisers and a GoFundMe account raised more than $11,000. She saw the forest and the ocean, but also sea turtles in Florida, her musician son on stage in Iowa, and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan that was in one of her favorite movies, “Somewhere in Time.”

Wistrand said she was awed by her cross-country journey.

"Seeing everything God has created from one side … one side of the U.S. to the other side of the U.S. is just phenomenal that it can be so different."

None of it would have been possible without the generosity of others and the teens who felt so close to her.

"I think it shows she was an awesome teacher and she's had such an impact on the community,” said Mickey Nolen, one of her students.

Last week, her doctor recommended she move toward hospice care soon. She said she doesn't fear death.

"I have learned that people are kind and compassionate and that Christ is my all,” she said.

She keeps a kind of perspective about her illness, noting how it resulted in these profound experiences and how it generated such an outpouring from her students.

"What I did, I would have never been able to do at all,” she said.

Copyright 2018 KTRK via CNN. All rights reserved.

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