My Live Again story of Cyrus: The purpose and spirit of a 39 yo doctor lives again.
At the age of 39, my good dear friend, Dr. Cyrus Chan passed away from stage 4 colon cancer. I was really good friends with his twin brother Curtis back in college at UCSD, and Cyrus would come down often to visit. I’ve known him for 20 years and the joy, brightness, and love he displayed when I first met him was still very present even when his physical body was weakened by colon cancer and it’s treatments. This is his Live Again Story:
I met Curtis when I was I was a freshman at UCSD. The Chan brothers were identical twins, both a year older than I. Cyrus would come visit San Diego quite often. I have fond memories of these 2 playing pranks of unsuspecting cute freshmen ladies pretending to be one person coming in and out various rooms and in different clothing to the ladies’ baffled amazement. These were the Chan brothers, always fun, easy going, pranksters, partyers, but also people with tremendous love and heart.
Since college, Cyrus went to medical school in Ireland and then started a general surgical residency in Toledo. He had aspirations of being a vascular surgeon. He was in his final year of residency when he was given the news of having colon cancer. It started with unusual back pain after a routine ski trip before the tumors in his colon were discovered.
He was interviewed by WTOL news station: ”I started thinking about, well, how much time do I have left? Am I going to be dying of liver failure? Am I going to have two years? I figured I would have about two years left, so I called my mom to come to me and I told her (I loved her.) I said, I’ve got about two years, probably. I think what I want to do is finish out my general surgery residency. That’s all I want to do, just finish it out. Whatever I do afterwards, we’ll figure it out,”
After initial treatment responses, he soon discovered he had peritoneal carcinomatosis — cancer nodules throughout his abdominal cavity. His co-resident and close friend, Dr. Tahir Jamil, gave him the devastating news. Having peritoneal carcinomatosis meant he had weeks to months to live. Finishing residency didn’t seem like a goal that was feasible.
In his WTOL interview he said: ”Finally it started to sink in. That’s when it kind of hit me that, wow…this is my diagnosis. How do I swallow this? Certainly in that moment I didn’t digest it at all whatsoever. As each day passed, that’s when I began to realize more and more that this is a serious diagnosis. It was tough.”
Despite hearing bad news piling on top of bad news as well as feeling sicker and sicker from therapy, Cyrus always remained positive; always still joking, always putting his friends needs over his, always believing the good in the people and world around him.
When he passed last year, his co-residents set up a legacy fund — a scholarship to be given to resident that shared his compassion for people, his joy for living, and their undying service to others despite any circumstance. Knowing him for over 20 years, he was just one of those remarkable human beings that always possessed these qualities. His optimism has always inspired the people around him, way before and after his cancer diagnosis.
I keep Cyrus’s story close to me as stories like his encourages me to be the best version of myself. Thank you Curtis for your permission to re-share his story. Thank you UTMC for creating the Dr. Cyrus Chan legacy fund, proving that those who inspire will always live forever in our hearts. And Cyrus, I miss you very much man; I know I will physically not be able to hold or hug you again, but I know the constant inspiration you’ve instilled in my heart and the hearts of the many people you’ve touched continues to live again.