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Content Warning: The following article depicts sexual misconduct
At the Dec. 9 Board of Regents Meeting at the Postma Clubhouse, Chuck Christian, a former University of Michigan football player and a survivor of former University doctor Robert Anderson, made an unscheduled appearance. Christian spoke with the regents about his experience with Anderson and his resulting fear of doctors – to which he attributes his stage IV cancer diagnosis.
Christian – who has been camping outside University President Mark Schlissel’s house since Oct. 8 along with fellow Anderson survivor Jonathan Vaughn – said he knows many other survivors who have been diagnosed with preventable diseases because of their fear of doctors.
“We’re still dealing with the trauma 30, 40 and 50 years later; some of us can’t hold a job because Michigan didn’t stop Anderson,” Christian said. “One player said to me, ‘I have battled with drugs and alcohol for half of my life, all because I was raped repeatedly by the team doctor.’ Four of my friends have died in the last year because of their fear of doctors.”
Christian then revealed Jonathan Vaughn has recently been diagnosed with cancer.
“I just found out today that my dear friend Jon Vaughn was diagnosed with cancer,” Christian said at the Dec. 9 meeting. “My prayer is that it’s not the terminal kind like I have, and Jon will continue to protest in the camper in front of the President’s house…in public you say how sorry you are about what Anderson did, but in private victims are traumatized and abused. We are treated like animals.”
Vaughn – who announced on Nov. 14 he is running for Board of Regent in 2022 and has vowed to camp outside of Schlissel’s house for 100 days or until President Schlissel and the Board of Regents agree to meet with him – sat down with The Michigan Daily to talk about his diagnosis and what it means for both his regent campaign and the ongoing protest.
Vaughn said he first began to experience symptoms on Oct. 5 – three days before he began camping outside Schlissel’s house – when he noticed a lump on his neck. Vaughn said he later went to the doctor’s, where he was ultimately diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Vaughn said it was terrifying to be back in a hospital after his experience with Anderson, but Christian helped him put those fears aside and take care of his health.
“That first weekend when I found out I’m having conversations with Chuck and he was like, ‘you know, Jon, just don’t put this off like I did,’” Vaughn said. “That was when it kind of hit me … that I had compartmentalized so much – it was terrifying, obviously, to walk into a hospital for first time in many, many, many years, but once I got there, I realized that at some point in time, (I was) gonna have to break the cycle.”
Vaughn said he will undergo surgery in January to remove the cancer and Christian and Tad Deluca – former University wrestler and whistleblower for the Anderson case – will take over protesting while he is in surgery and recovering.
“I will go in (to surgery) in the morning, they have to observe me overnight and then I (will be) released the next day,” Vaughn said. “I’ve already started talking to Chuck and Tad and some of the other survivors that, at that point, we’ll do a relay which I will hand off for one of my fellow survivors to sleep in the tent or the camper overnight, and then I’ll be right back (after my recovery).”
Vaughn said his diagnosis will not impact his regent campaign and he is working on creating a more concrete campaign blueprint to share with voters in the coming months.
Over 950 Anderson survivors have been in ongoing mediation with the University since Oct. 2020. Vaughn and Christian plan to continue camping outside of Schlissel’s house until Jan. 16.
Daily News Editor George Weykamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org