Chris graduated high school in June of 2016 from Lincoln Way West in New Lenox, IL. For his first job, he worked at Portillo’s (No explanation need for us in the Midwest, for everyone else, only the greatest hot dog and Italian beef place on the planet). He soon followed his passion and began working at a golf course, collecting balls, working as a starter and doing whatever was needed.
After graduation, his first year of college was local, at Joliet Junior College, where he took his general studies and focused on what his future might be. After taking a few classes, he decided that his end goal was to attend law school and get an undergraduate degree in criminal justice.
He applied and was accepted as an incoming sophomore this fall semester to Florida International University in Miami. He wasn’t at school for 3 weeks when he had the opportunity to experience Hurricane Irma, but even after that, he was excited to be back on campus as a FIU Panther.
Soon after arriving back from Irma, he started to encounter health issues. He had been dealing with some stomache issues that everyone thought was related to the new chapter in his life; however, it got the point where he had to go visit the university clinic. A phone call home from the nurse practitioner made it clear that something was really wrong. That day, September 28, Chris left FIU and flew home where he was met by his mother and taken directly to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He was hospitalized for 5 days, during which Chris received one piece of unwelcome news after another. Each day, it was worse than the day before.
Initially, the hospital doctor told him they found a growth. The next day, they found the growth had spread. Then a CT scan showed it was in his lungs. The final devastating news was that it was cancer – “Bile Duct Cancer”.
When Chris was 9 months old, he was diagnosed with a very rare form of Leukemia, JMML. The only possible treatment was a bone marrow transplant, and for preparation, they gave him heavy doses of full body radiation. At 16 months, he received a transplant and ended up beating the 5 percent survival rate he was given. That battle with cancer caused a number of issues for Chris, one being his height, as an early teen he had to have his thyroid removed, he has also had other issues related to his first battle.
On October 17, 2017, Chris had an appointment at the University of Michigan Cancer Center to be evaluated for a brand-new study that utilizes the immune system to fight this cancer. After clearing several hurdles, Chris was accepted into a trial where standard Chemo treatment is paired with a new procedure that uses the immune system to attack the cancer.