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School bus driver receives support from former students while battling cancer

This longtime Atlanta Public Schools bus driver is facing a new challenge.

ATLANTA — The quiet inside Susan McCaskill’s house is new. So, are the challenges causing it.

“The pain alone, is devastating.” She said.

McCaskill’s never been good at being still, or away from the people and projects she loves. “I’m so used to taking care of everybody,” she said. “It’s hard not to do the things I used to do.”

She had to park her sewing machine in the corner and steer her attention away from her school bus families. Ms. McCaskill drove an APS school bus for about 25 years and her students are extended family. 

For years, she’d fill days making quilts for the kids she used to drive to school. She used whatever little money was left each month to make the gifts as they headed to college. She handmade quilts with personalized fabric of the college of their choice. She even has a photo album of pictures and cards after she and families stayed in touch over the years.

Sewing for others made McCaskill happy and she said sewing helped her through the pandemic, adding “I hold onto that and find some joy because I was mentally in a dark space.” 

Now, she needs that positive outlet again, as breast cancer brought her sewing to a sudden stop.

Recalling the moment she found out, McCaskill said "they called me and told me the tumor was cancer.” It’s been surgery, chemotherapy, and rehabilitation ever since.

But the experience has also brought a full circle connection.

Families are now reaching out to support her, like she’s done for them over the years.

“I got a sweet message from Ethan and Maya’s mom.” McCaskill said. “It made me feel wonderful.”

Her machine is quiet as medical bills are piling up and McCaskill is worried she could lose her home. Yet, she’s still thinking of others.

As she hugged a pillow to her chest, she stated “this little compress pillow helped save my life when I had surgery.” When she is strong enough to sew again, she wants to make them for other cancer warriors.

“I met so many women at the cancer center who don’t have anything," McCaskill said. “It’s not supposed to be that way.

She has a new appreciation for how much any support means, adding "it is a god send.”

Mounting medical bills have Ms. McCaskill two months behind on her house payment and struggling to by medicine and food.

If you’d like to help, her daughter had started a GoFundMe.

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