Early ceremony honors WMU student fighting cancer

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A Muskegon man who has battled brain cancer for several years while working toward a degree at Western Michigan University has graduated in a private ceremony at the school.

Chris Boes, 28, received his bachelor of arts degree Monday with a brass quartet playing, and WMU President John Dunn, Provost Timothy Greene, Dean Alex Enyedi and nearly every professor who taught Boes in attendance, according to The Grand Rapids Press ( http://bit.ly/1bSdeBK ).

Also there were his parents Debbie and Jim Boes.

“It was incredible,” Jim Boes told the newspaper. “Just riveting.”

Boes was a student there in 2009 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In the meantime he was treated by specialists at Duke University. Wings of Mercy pilots provided free plane rides to North Carolina for the care.

The treatment allowed him to return to Western Michigan where he studied political science even as he received chemotherapy. A stroke he suffered last year left him with no hearing in one ear, vision problems and limited use of his left hand.

He remained undaunted in his quest to get a degree even as his health deteriorated this fall.

“I like to finish something I start,” he said.

A fall he took in mid-November in his dorm room made his efforts even more difficult and it became clear to him that he had to go home even though he had hoped to get his degree by the end of the semester.

“We were just sick that he was three weeks from the finish line,” Jim Boes said.

WMU officials assured him he had completed all necessary work, allowing for the special ceremony ahead of the school’s graduation on Dec. 14.

“We are thankful for Christopher — that we have a student like him,” said Kevin Knutson, director of advising.

His prognosis is still unknown.

“At this point, we don’t know what the future holds,” Jim Boes said. “He’s at a pretty tight crossroads right now.”

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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