Inspiring and Teaching Through Chemo

Inspiring and Teaching Through Chemo

Glen was pursuing his dream job as a teacher. Then cancer nearly dashed those dreams. Thankfully, we were able to use personalized research and new treatment options to save his life. Today, Glen is cancer-free and back to inspiring his students.

Published Jan 16th, 2019

After working as an engineer, Glen Mutchnick pursued his second career with equal passion: he became a beloved physics teacher known affectionately as “Munchy.” Glen is an icon to his students, treating them with respect and turning their high school science projects into life lessons.

“If they understand you really respect them, they become dedicated and really engaged,” he says.

Five years ago, Glen’s doctor discovered a tumor in his thymus gland, which led to the diagnosis of large B-cell lymphoma. For once in his life, Glen felt unprepared.

He had heard of USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute, and he decided to pursue his treatment there rather than travel out of town. From the beginning, he recalls the rather odd sensation of feeling right at home at the Mitchell Cancer Institute. Maybe the valet’s warm hug in greeting at the door that first day helped, and Glen also liked Dr. Thomas Butler, his medical oncologist. As Glen gets to know his students, so too does Dr. Butler come to know his patients, Glen says.

His treatments weren’t easy: seven months of one of the toughest chemotherapies, known as R-CHOP, with each session lasting up to nine hours. The chemo nurses were kind, but no-nonsense: they explained to him in plain terms what to expect. While it was difficult, after the treatments were over, Glen hesitated to leave what had become a second family.

Glen didn’t take time off from teaching during his treatments because his students helped him and kept him going.

“No matter what kind of day I come into school having,” Glen says of his students, “they just make me smile.”

The boys shaved their heads in solidarity, and they started a Facebook group to discuss cancer. Glen used his experience as a teachable moment, and his students started talking about cancer and how it affected their friends and families.

He and Dr. Butler remain close -- hugging close -- and his main nurse is like a sister.

Glen is trying to give back to the people and place that helped him. He formed a patient advisory council to meet quarterly and discuss patient care with USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute doctors, nurses and staff.

“Mitchell Cancer Institute was on par with any place in the nation,” says Glen, who has been cancer-free for five years. “They were wonderful, and I don’t see how I could have gotten better care anywhere else.”

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