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Tuesday, 01 August 2017 17:02

WCU chancellor’s cancer relapses

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A year after a surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor was deemed successful, Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher announced that the cancer is back.

WCU’s beloved leader sent out a letter to the WCU community Tuesday, Aug. 1, delivering the news but assuring the campus that he would fight the cancer with everything he has.

“Susan and I are optimistic,” he said of himself and his wife. “We obviously are disappointed that there has been a recurrence, but know that I intend to attack this setback with the same fervor and passion with which I began this unexpected odyssey in April of last year. And — as my leadership team will attest — I am moving forward with the same dogged commitment and strategic approach that I strive to bring every single day in my job as CEO of our university.”

Belcher was first diagnosed in April 2016 when the tumor began affecting his speech and expression. Outpourings of support came immediately, and Belcher had surgery a few weeks later to remove the tumor with follow-up treatment to keep the cancer from returning. It wasn’t long before Belcher was back to work, where he typically wore a suit, a smile and a purple baseball cap to cover his post-chemotherapy baldness.

Belcher will soon begin a new treatment regiment recommended by his medical team at Duke University Hospital. While promising, Belcher wrote, the treatment will require him to be away from campus several days each month. However, with the help of his leadership team he intends to continue fulfilling his leadership responsibilities.

“Over the past year, we have been blessed by an outpouring of love and support from our Catamount family, and it has buoyed Susan and me in this fight,” Belcher wrote in his Aug. 1 letter. “We welcome your warm wishes, your thoughts and your prayers, and we ask for your understanding if our responses to your messages are not as timely as you have come to expect from us.”

Belcher will continue to post updates on his fight against cancer at www.wcu.edu/discover/leadership/office-of-the-chancellor/personal-message.aspx.

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