When Engineering senior Christopher Grewe discovered a lump on his neck in January, his internist knew right away that it was Hodgkin”s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the immune system.

Paul Wong
Engineering senior Christopher Grewe (center) stands with two of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers yesterday afternoon. The fraternity will be hosting Derby Days this weekend to raise money for the American Cancer Society.<br><br>ETHAN ORLEY/Daily

“It was a shock,” Grewe said. “I was running triathlons, had never put a cigarette in my mouth and taken good care of my body. I had no clue what it was.”

Grewe, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, depended on family and friends while he received six months of chemotherapy and radiation for Type II Hodgkin”s disease, which only affects the middle of the chest and above.

“They put their life on hold for the entire month of January and were there to hold the bucket,” Grew said of his parents, who watched TV with him and provided comfort when the nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy worsened. “I”ve never not felt blessed by my parents.”

Grew also felt that need to support his family members, who had to deal with his life-threatening illness.

“Your support group needs a support group. It”s hard because no one knows how to treat you or deal with it. You”re caught in the middle and have to figure out how to deal with that,” Grewe said.

Grew”s fraternity brothers and girlfriend also provided necessary companionship and even financial assistance throughout the past 10 months.

“Those guys would lie in front of a train for me,” said Grewe about his brothers, who petitioned the House Corps and the fraternity”s national chapter for financial support to pay medical expenses.

“It was substantial,” Grewe added

Since his recovery, Grewe has developed a new look on life. “I still go out a lot, but I”m more looking forward to getting my body back in shape,” he said. He hopes to complete an Ironman triathlon with his sister and her fianc in the near future. “My attitude is the same, just more laid back.”

Grewe is also this year”s chair of Derby Days, an annual fundraiser organized by the Sigma Chi fraternity, which begins today with interfraternity boxing in the basement of the house at 548 S. State St.

Ten sororities and five fraternities signed up to participate in the event, which hopes to raise $1,000, despite difficulties in fundraising because of the recent decline in the economy.

The majority of money raised so far is from T-shirt sales, and the group hopes to sell more shirts to Derby Day”s 500 expected participants.

“It”s just as much of a relief to have fun as it is to raise money. It”s like Greek Week, but it involves raising money for a specific cause,” Grewe said.

The money raised this year will be split between the American Cancer Society, in honor of people related to the fraternity affected by the disease, and the Children”s Miracle Network.

An annual blood drive run by the American Red Cross took place Wednesday as a prelude to the weekend”s events, which include tonight”s Mock Rock and a variety of activities tomorrow like karaoke and tricycle races. All events take place at the Sigma Chi house on State Street.

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