During March Madness this year, remember John Churan of Phoenix, Arizona. Since his childhood days in Dayton, Ohio, he has backed the Dayton Flyers, a team currently fighting to earn an NCAA men’s basketball tournament berth. Lately, Churan has been doing some fighting of his own. A month ago, doctors diagnosed him with multiple myeloma.
A National Institutes of Health website defines it as ‘a cancer that begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell.’ Eventually, myeloma cells collect in bone marrow and the solid parts of bone.
‘I really didn’t have any symptoms,’ said 56-year-old Churan in a telephone interview, referring to the months before diagnosis. ‘I just went in for a routine physical. The next morning, I received a frantic telephone call from a doctor saying I was in renal failure and needed to get to the hospital immediately.’
It was the first time he had ever been admitted to a hospital. Doctors soon discovered that his kidneys were operating at 10 percent of normal capacity and, two weeks later, that he had multiple myeloma.
He recently had to begin chemotherapy, which limits his ability to perform his duties as director of purchasing for Isagenix. ‘I can’t quite get through the (work) day,’ he said. ‘I have some side pain issues, and back and leg pain.’
Right now, he’s trying to do everything possible to tell people to remember their annual checkups, including starting a blog about the topic. But most of all, this last month has taught him the pivotal role basic human caring can play during troubling times.
‘My wife has been a pillar (of strength),’ he said. ‘She found out one Friday of my having cancer and three days later that her mother had it. She’s doing everything. She still has a job, telephones doctors, and takes care of me.’ She also has been learning to adjust to his radically changed diet.
Friends have helped, too. ‘I am so lucky to have caring people around me and to work for a place that is 100 percent behind me and telling me to go do whatever it takes to beat this. By putting my story on the UDPride (Dayton basketball chat board), I’ve had many people send encouraging emails and others have their whole prayer community praying for me. You don’t know how much it means to me for them to care.’