‘Just robust, vibrant’

Friends say that mathematics professor Eberth Alarcon was a determined man, full of life and energy.

“He was alive,” said Martin Wood, English professor and friend of Alarcon’s. “Just robust, vibrant.”

Senior Jerad Rades agreed.

“He was a great guy,” Rades said. “He was one of the few math professors who could actually relate to his students; he was always out to help. I thought he was one of the best math professors I ever had.”

Alarcon, 40, died Monday morning after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia.

“It was known to be a long shot, but people didn’t play that up,” Wood said. “We always chose to focus on the positive.”

After his diagnosis, Alarcon went through two rounds of chemotherapy, Wood said. The first aimed to kill all of the cancerous cells in his body. Initial tests after the chemotherapy were cancer free, but the leukemia later returned, he said.

Alarcon’s only option was a transplant core or stem cells, Wood said.”He was a fighter and he chose to take this on,” he said.

The goal of the core cell transplant was to kill Alarcon’s own bone marrow and substitute a donor’s marrow for his own. The donor’s marrow would produce all of the blood for Alarcon’s body, Wood said.

This form of treatment is relatively new and is very harsh on the body, he said.

“You are guaranteed two things (with this treatment): agony for the patient and a remote possibility that it will work,” he said.

The transplant was successful and Alarcon was cancer free at the time of death, Wood said. But because the treatment is so harsh, there are many ways a body can decline after such a treatment, he said.

“It was just too much of an assault on his body,” Wood said.

Alarcon knew that the treatment would be difficult, but he was hopeful that if the procedure didn’t work for him, it would aid medicine in helping others, he said.

“I think he would appreciate it if some of his students attended the services,” Rades said.

Alarcon’s memorial services have not been announced.

– Janie Boschma contributed to this report