Yampa Valley High School teacher battles cancer
July 16, 2012
Steamboat Springs — In his room on the fourth floor of Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital in Denver, Dan Juba is turning to his family and his sense of humor to survive the long wait.
The prayer flags, children's artwork and Nerf gun-shooting contests he hosts in his room are helping him wait patiently for the results of a bone marrow biopsy that will tell him how his cancer is responding to the first round of chemotherapy.
The results could indicate his cancer is in remission or that he is in need of a longer hospitalization.
"A lot is dependent on the biopsy," Juba's wife, Colleen Ryan, said Monday. "Right now, it's a day-by-day, moment-to-moment thing. There's no way to look into the future. There's no way to look at why it happened. We're just in it."
Juba, the lead teacher at Yampa Valley High School in Steamboat Springs, was suffering flu-like symptoms July 2 when he went to his doctor. He wanted to make sure he didn't have anything contagious that could spread to the kids attending his wife's birthday party July 3.
Tests showed that Juba's white blood cell count was worrisome. The next day, doctors at St. Luke's in Denver diagnosed Juba with acute myeloid leukemia and started him on chemo hours later.
"It came as a total shock," Ryan said. "You realize very quickly your husband is very sick and needs treatment. It's a life-changer for sure. But I'm glad the doctors got on it very quickly."
Colleen and the couple's 3-year-old son, Jackson, were visiting Legoland in California on Monday while Juba continued to rest at the hospital in Denver with family and friends.
Juba started with the Steamboat Springs School District as a teacher's aide. Since 2008, he has taught for the district's alternative high school serving at-risk students.
In May, Juba told the Steamboat Today he was happy to see his school district invest $88,000 in a renovation project that soon will add a science lab, front reception desk, lockers and private offices to the school.
"He's so passionate about his job teaching those kids and leading that school," said Karla Setter, a friend of Juba's who taught at the high school. "You don't expect things like this to happen to people."
Ryan said Juba hopes he can soon return to teaching.
"You want to make plans, but you can't right now," she said. "Dan's spirits are great. We're laughing a lot. We're keeping things really positive."
Juba cannot have flowers or plants in his hospital room, so family members are asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Daniel P. Juba Donation Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.
Ryan also is updating family and friends about Juba's condition at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/danjuba.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com