It takes a special sort of person to start each early morning with a beaming smile and immense work ethic.
Not everyone can rise each day before the sun, commute to work as it rises and serve the JCU community before most students have even thought about waking up.
Diane Seifert, longtime John Carroll University cafeteria-staff member, has been serving our community in this way for 28 years. In the past year, Seifert has provided laughter, support and love to students all while battling breast cancer, a war she is just now beginning to win.
On a routine visit to her physician last April, Seifert’s life changed forever. After receiving a procedural mammogram, her doctor found lymph nodes in her left breast and diagnosed her with breast cancer.
Although her cancer was caught early, the feeling of hearing the words “you have cancer,” is an experience that Seifert will never forget.
“It felt weird, it felt really weird,” Seifert said. “Soon, I began chemo and started to lose my hair. She gestured to her forearm, saying, “They had to put a needle in there for about four to five hours once a week. The treatment exhausted me, I was really tired,” Seifert added. “That was bad, really bad. I was sick as a dog.”
Although Seifert says she tried her best to keep a positive attitude throughout her treatment, losing her hair is a struggle that continues to take a toll on her confidence.
“I don’t like my hair like this,” she said, lifting her cap to reveal her now bald head. “When I showered, chunks of hair would come out. I didn’t like that part at all.”
After leaving JCU last year in early May to start her chemotherapy full-time, Seifert’s health is now beginning to take a turn for the better. She returned to JCU at the beginning of the school year with an almost perfect diagnosis – only one lymph node left to eliminate.
“They said that it might come back in three months. But we’ll wait and see, I feel much better,” Seifert said. “I feel like a new woman, I am a new Diane.”
With her newfound health, Seifert is happy to be back at JCU and reunite with the John Carroll community.
“I love John Carroll. I love the students. They’re my family. I like the job, I like what I do.”
At JCU, Seifert is responsible for a variety of jobs.
“I’m always scrambling. I do the soup, I do the condiments, I do the cereal, and whatever else they want me to do. Whatever they want, I do it.”
“I like some of my co-workers,” added Seifert, “Bernard, he’s my man. I was teasing him yesterday, he’s fun, he’s great,” Seifert said.
JCU students and co-workers of Seifert share her excitement about her return. Bernard Johnson, her fellow cafeteria worker, said, “She’s pretty cool. We get along and joke around. She has a sweet, big heart. She’s a cool co-worker. Even though she jokes around and teases me, underneath she has a good heart. She brings really good energy to the workplace.”
Students at John Carroll are happy that Seifert is back home at JCU. Junior Kateri Dillon said, “I’m very happy she’s back. She gives really great hugs. She’s always really excited to make students’ days.”
JCU alum Chelsea Neubecker ’14 was very close with Seifert, and looks back on her time with her fondly.
“I really wish I could have gotten to know her sooner. But, in the short time that I knew her, she made such a huge impact on my JCU experience.
“One of my favorite things about her is smile and her laugh that accompanies it,” added Neubecker. “Her hugs are incredible and she gives the most genuine compliments. Diane is a true example of a woman for others because she remembers the little things and asks about what’s going on in ones life. She’s wonderful.”
In response to her return to JCU, Seifert is full of nothing but love. “I am happy to be back. I love my job because I love being around people. People bring me love,” she said.