Fraternity holds benefit for blood cancer research
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 03:05
Since relapsing with non-Hodgkin’s large B-cell lymphoma less than a year after he went into remission, alumnus Ryan Miller said he spent a significant amount of time in the hospital, undergoing intense treatments including high-dose chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Despite the circumstances, Miller said he has remained optimistic after he received an outpour of support from friends, students and alumni that helped him remain positive.
“Calling me, visiting me, emails—just unending methods of communication, the amount of support has been overwhelming,” said Miller.
Miller was joined by more than 200 friends, family and alumni at DelCastle Golf Course in Pike Creek, Del. on Saturday in support of Delaware’s chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Event organizers and participants, most of which were Miller’s fraternity brothers from Lambda Alpha Chi and sorority sisters from Alpha Sigma Alpha, collected more than $7,500 to benefit the organization.
After graduating from the university in 2010, Miller became a nurse at Christiana Hospital’s intensive care unit, but was diagnosed with cancer in August of that year. He received chemotherapy treatment and went into remission but relapsed less than 12 months later.
He said it was heartwarming to see so many university community members, friends and family at the event, which he liked because it allowed him to recognize his progress with the disease but also acknowledge other milestones, such as his birthday on Monday.
“This is kind of a great way to celebrate things—my birthday is [on Monday],” Miller said.
His sister, Casey, a freshman and Alpha Sigma Alpha sister, said watching her brother’s struggle with the relapse was difficult but was made easier by his optimism.
Casey said she witnessed a large amount of support for her brother from the university community, including his chapter, which increased her desire to attend the school.
“Once he was leaving, I was coming in,” Casey said. “It sucked that we weren’t able to be here together, but it definitely influenced my decision to come here.”
Lyman Chen, a 1993 university alumnus and Lambda Chi brother who organized the event, said Ryan’s story is inspiring because he never complained about his illness or situation. He became friends with Ryan when he returned the university community as an adviser to the fraternity.
“The reason why we do this is because he’s such a great kid,” Chen said. “He didn’t complain once, he didn’t spite anything.”
He said the event helped bring attention to the leukemia and lymphoma cause, especially during a time when many people do not have extra funds to donate.
“This economy’s been tough on everyone, where I’m saying ‘aw man, poor me, poor me,’ and then you’re like, ‘poor Ryan,’” he said. “And he’s not saying, poor Ryan, so why the hell am I saying ‘poor Lyman?’”
Ryan’s mother, Tina, attended the outing and called the support her son received from his fraternity brothers overwhelming.
“To see all the carts and the whole group together was really touching,” Tina said.
Her husband, Bob, said it was difficult watching his son receive treatment for cancer only to relapse less than a year later. He said his son’s optimism since the relapse has made it easier for both he and his wife to stay strong.
“He’s always been strong,” Bob said. “He’s never lost faith. He’s been brave and he’s been amazing. He’s kept us going.”
Jessica Holland, campaign coordinator for the state’s chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, said the event is positive because she thinks blood cancer often receives less attention than other forms of disease.
Holland, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 19 years old, said Ryan’s involvement in raising support for the cancer recovery cause is inspiring.
“I think he’s infectious and you just want to get to know him,” Holland said. “He has this vibe to him that you want to be his friend and you want to know more about him.”