“I have cancer; it doesn’t have me.”


Since being diagnosed with cancer on April 15, the day before his birthday, religion professor Greg De Arton continued to share his passion for the gospel with BYU-Idaho students up until a few weeks ago when he was asked to officially step down by the university.

De Arton had been an adjunct faculty member at BYU-I for three years when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.De Arton said he shared this news with all of his classes.

“I figured it was only fair to let students know,” De Arton said. “I knew that, because it was pancreatic cancer, it wasn’t anything to mess around with, and I didn’t know how long I’d still be able to teach, but I could see that I probably wasn’t going to make it to the end of the semester.”

He said students deserve to have a vibrant teacher to interact with, and he was not living up to that promise.

“I wanted to prepare them for a transition and just let them know that I was sincere in the things that I taught,” he said. “My main goal is that they might learn something that would help them to achieve their God-given goals.”

De Arton said he had a goal to become a teacher as early as the fifth grade. He said that goal was re-established in 10th grade when he had the opportunity to be an aide for a third grade class, where he said he loved the kids and wanted to help them.

De Arton said he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 16, and seminary was his first exposure to church education.

“I hungered for it,” De Arton said. “Learning by the Spirit was always a thrilling event.”

De Arton said, after returning home from serving a mission in Mexico, he started to look into teaching seminary and ended up working as a full-time seminary teacher for 32 years.

The Church only employs about 2,000 full-time seminary teachers, according to the Deseret News.

De Arton said he has learned a lot from the students he has worked with at BYU-I.

He said they have taught him patience, empathy and truth, and they have strengthened his testimony.

“It’s taught me that students, when given the opportunity, have wonderful things to teach from their own lives,” De Arton said. “They just need to be given permission to share and be considerate of their classmates.”

De Arton said as students do this, it becomes a win-win situation where everybody grows and learns. He said when he found out he had cancer, he had a knee-jerk reaction because there is a lot of negativity surrounding cancer.

Hannah Bouwhuis, a freshman studying business management, said she took the first part of De Arton’s Book of Mormon class her first semester at BYU-I and had just begun the second half of the Book of Mormon class this semester when he announced he had cancer.

“Honestly, when he said it, I just wanted to cry,” Bouwhuis said.

Bouwhuis said she considers De Arton to be another father figure in her life and hates to see him go through this.

“From my perspective, mortality is highly overrated,” De Arton said. “It’s the promise of what lies ahead and knowing who’s in charge that makes it exciting. Honestly, passing through the other side is not a bad thing. We get to rest from all our cares and sorrows and all our labors. I can handle a vacation like that.”

De Arton said that a few weeks ago, after starting chemotherapy, the university asked him to step down from his teaching position.

Bouwhuis said she misses having him teach her Book of Mormon class.

“He always has the spirit with him so strongly,” Bowhuis said. “I grew this genuine love for him really quickly.”

Bouwhuis said she is inspired by De Arton and it is a blessing to have been taught by a spiritual giant.

De Arton said he is inspired by the goodness of people and the goodness of God.

“I know I’m not perfect,” De Arton said. “I knew that before. I’m trying to pay more attention to how what I do and say affects others. I’m trying to be careful about that, because that really is what matters — relationships. There isn’t anything more important than relationships. For everything we do, we’re either teaching or we’re learning.”

De Arton said that cancer has taught him to rely on the Lord, and that it is not about us, it is about God.

De Arton said that after three more sessions of chemotherapy the tumor around his pancreas will be small enough to remove, and he will be cancer free.

Bouwhuis said she misses having him teach her Book of Mormon class.

“He always has the spirit with him so strongly,” Bowhuis said. “I grew this genuine love for him really quickly.”

Bouwhuis said she is inspired by De Arton and it is a blessing to have been taught by a spiritual giant.

De Arton said he is inspired by the goodness of people and the goodness of God.

“I know I’m not perfect,” De Arton said. “I knew that before. I’m trying to pay more attention to how what I do and say affects others. I’m trying to be careful about that, because that really is what matters — relationships. There isn’t anything more important than relationships. For everything we do, we’re either teaching or we’re learning.”

De Arton said that cancer has taught him to rely on the Lord, and that it is not about us, it is about God.

De Arton said that after three more sessions of chemotherapy the tumor around his pancreas will be small enough to remove, and he will be cancer free.

He said that if he had strength, he would continue to teach and that cancer is only temporary.

“I have cancer; it doesn’t have me,” De Arton said.



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