BENTON, Kan. (KSNW) — A cancer patient from Benton took his cancer diagnosis and turned it into a learning experience he now shares with others.

Curt Ghormley was diagnosed with cancer in 2022. Over the last year, he has had multiple near-death experiences.

“I said, ‘Why are we talking about these L-words that I can’t spell?’ He said, ‘Well, you have low platelets, and you have low red blood cells and low white blood cells, so you have leukemia,'” Ghormley said.

Throughout that journey, he learned many life lessons that he didn’t want to keep to himself. So, he wrote a book about what he learned.

“I reduced many of these lessons learned about how I cope with the Leukemia down to half a dozen life lessons that are really applicable to any major unsolvable problem,” Ghormley said.

He also volunteers at Ascension Via Christi.

“I recognize how lonely that can be when one is fighting that,” Ghormley said. “Everybody’s family situation is different. So I recognize the loneliness that attacks people with that. Even if we don’t contribute very much, just the fact that we show up and show interest does something that’s positive for the individual.”

When he was in the hospital, he focused on optimism.

“I concluded that this was going to be so bad and it’s going to be so uncertain that the only reasonable response I can provide you is I’m going to be the toughest guy you’ve ever seen on the cancer wing,” Ghormley said. “I’m going to be the most I’m gonna be the most resilient, cheerful person in here.”

He says you don’t get to choose the trials you face, just how you face them.

“Even if you die, even if there’s mortality, I can still succeed in the attitude,” Ghormley said.

His book is called “Alligator Wrestling in the Cancer Ward: How a Christian Tough-Guy Survived Leukemia with Gallows Humor, One-Liners, and a Praying Posse.”

“That’s the metaphor that came to mind as I was here,” Ghormley said. “Alligator wrestling is unplanned, uncertain, terrifying, no rules, unlikely to end well, and that describes the experience that I went through here on the hospital with this.”

He said he wanted to reach a bigger audience than just his posts on social media.

“I thought I came to understand the life lessons that are useful in battling this problem that actually has no solution that I really can’t solve, so I wanted to distill those lessons and be able to pass them on somewhere,” Ghormley said.

Shelley Merritt has also battled cancer and says Curt is an inspiration.

“If you read the book, if you know Curt, you will come away a better person. “You’ll come away stronger, with more hope,” Merritt said. “I was going through cancer myself, and so it’s just an encouragement to have a brother who’s been there, who’s there, who’s facing it with faith and humor and trust, but also, I think it’s just perfect for anybody. It’s just life. Life is just not easy.”

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