Freshman with Leukemia finds home away from home with Colorado Phi
Like the Phoenix rose from the ashes, Jack Paul (’24) rose to the occasion when times were tough.
The freshman Criminal Justice major at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs finished his last chemotherapy treatment on April 9. Paul was diagnosed with Pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL] in 2018 when he was a junior in high school.
“It’s so weird that I’m not on chemo right now,” Paul said. “It’s weird to not have my dad nag me about taking my pills every day.”
Paul’s condition did not stop him from living his life. In his first semester at UCCS, he was lucky enough to have a roommate that was already part of the Colorado Phi chapter.
Because his roommate Owen was already part of the Colorado Phi chapter, he was invited out to rush events and eventually was given a bid and initiated.
“The stars aligned,” Paul said. “He brought me down to meet all the guys and they were all very welcoming and chill.”
He never thought he’d join a fraternity at first because of his condition but the brothers made him feel comfortable right away.
“I was like ‘I don’t know, man, I have cancer. I don’t know if having cancer and joining a fraternity is a good idea,’” Paul said. “It was very different from what I was expecting.”
With the thought of the infamous movie Animal House in his head, it was much different than he thought.
He learned quickly that the chapter is full of men who enjoy each other’s company while serving the community in different aspects.
Entering his college experience, Paul became open about the condition he had and it caught the eyes of his brothers. He became a hot commodity quickly as he’s shown his love for SAE throughout the first year of his college experience by visiting campus on weekends due to classes being online.
“I’m super open with it. I would always talk about it and joke about it,” Paul said. “I went to rush and then I got my bid. At no point did I ever feel like having cancer was going to limit me from still enjoying myself in the fraternity.”
Last semester, Paul traveled over an hour to visit his brothers on weekends. The brotherhood and everything the fraternity brought him helped him stay busy getting to the point he’s at now.
“I was running for a position and I told them, ‘Hey, I clearly love this fraternity. I’m driving an hour and a half just to hang out with everyone”.
Moving forward, Paul will only need to make hospital visits once a month for blood work and what he describes as a physical. He’ll also have to take certain medications until his immune system readjusts to normal.
“It’s very doubtful that I’ll have to go back on anything,” Paul said. “I never got hopeless, even when I first got diagnosed.”
According to St. Judes, about 98% of children with ALL go into remission within weeks after starting treatment. About 90% of those children can be cured. Patients are considered cured after 10 years in remission.
“Everything that happened to me, I would not be the first. There is plenty of research on it and my doctors have probably seen it personally before,” Paul said. “So I never felt hopeless during the pandemic or before it. It was just a matter of enduring all this treatment to get to survival.”
Next fall, Paul plans to live off-campus with eight of his brothers between two duplexes.
“I’m so excited. It’s going to be great,” he said.