Completing postsecondary while separated from your two young sons is hard enough. Overcoming cancer on top of that – with chemotherapy treatments beginning right before second year – takes a special person, and the right support. Fortunately, Ian Tromp’s story has a happy ending.
Ian, a mature student, has graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Algonquin College with honours. He wasn’t at convocation, however – as he had already secured full-time work as a radio news host in Rapid City, South Dakota, which he calls “his dream job”. Still, wind the clock back a year and it wasn’t a sure thing that Ian would make it this far.
“I owe [Professors] Dan Pihlainen and Dan Mellon a debt of gratitude for the rest of my life. Without their support, I would not have made it through.”
It was July of 2014 when Ian got the call – that lump was actually Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and chemo was to start next month. He was lucky that this particular kind of cancer was easy enough to cure (for cancer) – but the treatments took a lot out of him. Combined with a prior history of blood clots, which caused him to miss the last three weeks of classes, Ian’s health and stress were going in opposite directions. Ian sums up second year as “hell” for him personally.
Thankfully, Radio Broadcasting program coordinator Dan Pihlainen had a plan, allowing Ian to get back on track with his assignments during his winter term internship. As Ian trudged his way through the January snow with a cane (and sometimes a walker), parking in the closer (more expensive) lot so he could even make it to the radio station, he eventually got his schoolwork back on track and his health started to improve. With the added challenges he was facing, the radio studios became even more of a second home – and his professors and fellow radio students like family. “I attended other colleges and I can’t even compare my experiences,” says Ian.
It was just last month Ian got another call – this time, it was South Dakota and 1380 KOTA Radio on the line. It has now been 10 months since his chemotherapy treatments started, and Ian’s health is just about back to where it was before he started. With his career launched and his family reunited, Ian is now reflecting back on his time at the College and that fateful decision to become a student.
Looking back on that hour long conversation with Dan Pihlainen two years ago, where he started to get that first inkling about the caring community he was about to join, Ian says there are no regrets. “It is incredible to know I had that much support,” says Ian. “I have very fond memories, very grateful to have chosen Algonquin.”
Submitted by Professor Dan Pihlainen