School claims cancer patient's odor sickens people

Posted at: 11/13/2013 7:22 PM
Updated at: 11/13/2013 7:27 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An Albuquerque mother with a life-threatening disease says she was kept out of her daughter’s school because of the way she smells.

The smell can be overpowering at times.

She admits it.

But should she be kept at a distance for something beyond her control?

Kerri Mascareno needs time.

To live.

To watch her three girls grow up and marry.

“[They’re] the fuel that keeps me going,” said Mascareno.

But there may not be much time left.

“It was pretty devastating,” she remembers. “I thought about my children right away."

Her heartbreaking diagnosis in August: Stage 4 breast cancer.

“Very scared. Very scared very overwhelming,” she describes life since the diagnosis.

Her body is too small, the tumor is too big.

She’s taking chemotherapy pills to shrink the tumor enough to undergo surgery.

“[I’m] Very scared,” she said. “Very scared, very overwhelming.”

Adding to her unimaginable stress is the fact that she says she is not allowed close to her daughter’s school, Tierra Antigua Elementary.

“He told me I wasn't allowed to be in the school anymore,” she said.

Mascareno says she met with the school’s principal, Robert Abney, last week about her daughter.

The talk then turned to her.

“He just said he knows this is going to hurt my feelings and he understands where I’m coming from because his mother had breast cancer and she had the same exact smell and I can no longer be in the school and that with me being in the school that I made his employees ill," she said.

She claims even after she moved outside, the principal was standing at his window and told her to move farther away.

"He just said that he would have to ask me to sit in my car because he could smell me through the window," Mascareno said.

Abney refused to talk Wednesday afternoon about what he said to the mother.

He also refused to apologize, instead directing questions to the school district’s spokespeople.

Making things worse, an email shows where Abney tells Mascareno she will be allowed to go to the school’s upcoming Thanksgiving dinner if she and her daughter sit in his office.

“For someone to say you can't be with your child…  it's really hard,” she said in tears.

Time is precious.

Mascareno knows this could be her last Thanksgiving.

“I think about that every day,” she said.

The school changed its tune after our visit.

Mascareno says she got a call late Wednesday afternoon from the principal inviting her to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in the cafeteria with the rest of the school.

But because of how everything played out, she’s not sure she’ll attend.