Beloved ETSU psychology professor Dr. Chris Dula has not lost his spirit despite battling cancer and suffering setbacks.
Dula, who has taught at the university since 2004, was diagnosed with brain cancer over a year ago. Earlier this month, he suffered a stroke that has left him almost entirely immobile and affected his speech.
“I am in a wheel chair full time because the brain cancer extended to my cerebellum,” said Dula. “I have no balance.”
He explained that one of the chemotherapy treatments he was taking increased his risk of stroke.
“To me, this stroke was unexpected, but it was always a possibility,” said Dula. “They’ve changed my chemo treatment to lower the risk of stroke. They’ve changed it to increase my chance of staying alive.”
Dula is well known throughout the university for his enthusiastic lectures and lively charisma, which make his classes stand out.
Since his cancer diagnosis and recent stroke, he has had the support of the university as well as the president of ETSU, Dr. Brian Noland.
“President Noland has been extremely helpful,” said Dula. “He has offered me help that I don’t feel comfortable accepting. If he doesn’t give it to everybody, then I don’t feel like it should be given to me.”
In addition to the university, Dula has had support from his family throughout his illness. The support of his family is something he believes has saved his life.
“I wouldn’t be here without it,” said Dula. “My wife, who I consider to be an angel, keeps track of everything and gets me where I need to go.”
Despite his condition, he plans to one day continue teaching.
“From the beginning, my doctor told me, ‘You do what you love all the time as part of your treatment,’” said Dula. “I’m going to take that as a doctor’s order. Teaching is the thing I love. I’m honored to spend the rest of my life near a place that cares about its students more than anything.”
The professor is optimistic about the future and has a message for the ETSU community.
“I’ll be fine,” said Dula. “Keep hanging in there, because I want to watch all your accomplishments grow as I get better.”