WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — You don’t have to be a medical expert to know glioblastoma is a bad thing. It’s a fast-growing, aggressive type of brain tumor, and it’s almost always fatal.

The key word here is “almost.”

Wichita Heights Athletic Director Michael Church is the rare exception. The 43-year-old husband, father, and manager of the 6A-5A Kansas State High School Activities Association State Wrestling Tournament is a man of great faith who beat the odds and approaches every day as a new blessing.

Last weekend, 28 wrestlers won gold medals at the Kansas big-class state wrestling championships at Hartman Arena in Park City. There were many other winners in the arena, including Church. The tournament manager missed last year’s event.

“On February 1st last year, right before this tournament, I was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform brain cancer, which was not a good outlook,” said Church. “They gave me approximately six months to live.”

Michael Church with his wife Laura and son Kendric (Courtesy: Michael Church)

The then 42-year-old veteran Wichita Public Schools administrator and former wrestling coach at Wichita Heights had a tumor in the left frontal lobe of his brain — terminal cancer.

Two days later, he underwent successful surgery to fully resect the tumor from his brain, but doctors were unable to remove all the cancer cells. What followed was six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Church vowed he wouldn’t live in fear. He attacked his cancer treatment. His body handled the chemo very well. He changed his eating habits. He says he’s in the best shape of his life.

Watching him zip around Hartman Arena over the weekend, you’d never know he received such horrible news a year ago.

“It’s nothing more than God’s miracle that I’m even here,” said Church.

I asked Church to describe the past year, and he said it’s been “amazing.”

Michael Church with his wife Laura and son Kendric (Courtesy: Michael Church)

“My God has come all the way through for me. The rest of the community, all my family back here (as he points to the state wrestling management staff). They’ve been praying for me, and they’ve lifted me up, and they’ve lifted my family up. It’s been the most amazing and fun and awesome year of my life, and I can’t be more grateful to everybody that’s in this arena and everybody that’s not here. It’s been a fun year, honesty,” he said.

Chris Asmussen of Valley Center has managed the state wrestling tournament along with Church for 12 years.

“He’s the most positive person I know. He got a bad prognosis, and he hit it with stride, and he’s almost been that person that comforts everybody else. He’s kind of an inspiration for all of us,” said Asmussen.

Between grueling cancer treatment, his duties as the athletic director at Wichita Heights, and planning and managing the big-class state wrestling championships, how does Church remain so positive?

Michael Church with his wife Laura and son Kendric (Courtesy: Michael Church)

“Because I’m not going to die of cancer. I believe in my God, and I believe in my community, and I’ve got purpose, and I’m in the best shape of my life. Physically, I’ve lost 60 pounds. I’ve been training. I’ve been working out. I’ve been eating the most clean I’ve ever ate in my life. Honestly, I feel better now than I did when I was a college wrestler,” says the former high school state champion wrestler.

“He’s living his life the best he can. He’s making sure every day counts and every minute counts. He’s a very big family man,” said Asmussen.

We could all learn something from Church.

“I got this clarity. Every day, I get to wake up and be thankful that I woke up that day,” said Church.

Church has 11 rounds of chemo under his belt and one more to go in March. He says he will continue to go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas every four months for checkups.