Milan Christian: a journey through faith and cancer


Photo by Milan Christian

Junior Milan Christian, an avid traveler, sits on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

By Karidja Monjolo, Managing Editor

Throughout his life, neither Milan Christian nor his family could have predicted the hardships that would fall upon them. To be diagnosed with cancer, a life-threatening condition, at the beginning of a new school year, was unthinkable.

After rearranging our interview to accommodate his doctor’s appointment, I finally had the opportunity to meet Milan, a junior, on a chilly Wednesday afternoon in March. He arrived early and was clearly thrilled as he walked into room 2147. Our interview took place in the bright green, adjacent lab, where we arranged the soft, gray bean bag-like chairs and began discussing his life experiences. 

Prior to COVID, Milan was able to travel to Las Vegas as well. (Photo by Milan Christian)

Throughout his life, Milan has been an active member of his church and his community. Milan was, quite literally, born and raised into Christianity as the son of a pastor, and as such, has always had a strong sense of faith. 

During Milan’s active childhood, there was never a dull moment. Smiling, he recalled the happiest moment from his childhood, while teaching the Bible to younger children.  

“Not everyone gets the privilege to just sit and teach,” said Milan.  

As his father moved to various places to preach, so did Milan and the rest of the family, which includes his mother and an older brother. The move to West Chicago on June 18 2019 was therefore familiar: an experience he has gone through many times in the past. 

Moving so often, however, does not seem to affect Milan: when thinking about his father’s work, he is “proud”, a fact that perhaps demonstrates Milan’s resilience and easy-going nature.

“Milan is a great guy, a survivor and a devoted Christian, with faith that even I admire. When I first met him, I was skeptical, which I am with most people, but he quickly changed that the moment he spoke from the heart. I have only known him for a year but am looking forward to another one or many years to come,” said sophomore Fernando Calvillo-Morales.

Today, Milan is a member of Compass, WEGO’s Christianity club. 

“Compass was a dream for me, everyone was well spiritual and always prayed for me, Mrs. Blanca and Mrs. Conroy all stood by me. I always would lead prayer and bless all of the Compass members! Each day I would have a smile on my face seeing them all,” said Milan.

The club, which meets 3:15 pm on Tuesdays in the Student Activities Center, centers around Bible study and games, community service projects and social gatherings. The organization is headed by Special Education Program Assistant Blanca Ruiz and science teacher Lindsay Conroy.

“Having Milan in Compass Club has been a blessing because he has so much to share spiritually as an academic. Anyone who knows Milan knows that he is a faithful friend,” said Ruiz.

In fact, through the organization, Milan has made a number of life-long friends, who have helped him through a painful journey. 

Milan is a noble, generous, very brave boy, full of hope and with a love for God that reflects it with others. Milan does not find it difficult to share his testimony about cancer, because every battle he has had is when he puts his most trust and faith in God. He uses his testimony to encourage others not to give up and to remember that we all have a purpose,” said Ruiz. 

Despite the fact that Milan is relatively new to WEGO, he has already made a strong group of reliable and dependable friends. 

Sophomore Payton Arredondo said, “Milan is a very strong person…one of the strongest I know. He has been through so much yet, still goes through each day with a beaming smile and positive attitude. I’m inspired to have the same mentality he has someday.”

As the interview moved on, we came to the tough topic of his diagnosis: Milan was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma on May 24, 2021, a day that would change his life forever. 

Synovial sarcoma is cancer that can emerge in soft tissues, muscles, ligaments. Essentially, synovial sarcoma affects the cells in a way that prevents them from functioning as they should. Upon the discovery of the tumor, Milan received treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital in downtown Chicago. Though the subject was a difficult one for this interviewer, Milan had no problem talking about cancer. He was open, and even excited, to share information about his diagnosis and ultimate remission. 

“Some days, I would be in a hospital bed for four, days and I would constantly have pain everywhere, especially in my back,” said Milan, who underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. 

“The treatment was not scary at all for me, but it made me weak,” said Milan.

Throughout treatment, his grades never slipped, and Milan remained the hardworking student he had always been, not missing a single assignment. 

Special Education teacher Beth Schomig wrote via email, “I met Milan during his sophomore year of high school during the second semester… the start of COVID semester. Towards the end of that year, Milan messaged me about his cancer diagnosis and began treatment.  Milan’s junior year started, and he was unable to come back to school, so I volunteered to tutor him. Milan has a number of amazing qualities, but I think his attitude and work ethic are most admirable. Despite a number of setbacks, going through radiation and chemotherapy and numerous medical appointments, Milan stayed upbeat and positive about his work, his school and his life.  When he was feeling ill, he would just sit and listen to me read. When he was feeling well, he gave 100% of himself to his studies and to his school. You didn’t see Milan at the Homecoming pep assembly, but he was there…. Zooming in from his hospital bed. What Wildcat spirit! I think I have learned from Milan as much as he has learned from me. We can all learn from him, that attitude is everything, anything is possible, and West Chicago High School is the place to be!”

Officially cancer-free, Milan receives a certificate of courage at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Today, Milan is officially cancer-free, with less stress and fewer doctor appointments. He enjoys traveling all over the country, from Florida (to tour NASA’s space center) to Las Vegas to Texas, but because of COVID, has unable to do so in recent years.  

“Traveling feels like a dream. It has been three years since I have nearly traveled. I loved it so much. Taking time off after a long time sustained me and gave me a sense of peace after going through a lot,” said Milan.

Avani Christian, Milan’s father said, “Milan is very persistent and has immense patience in his life. Last year, when we received some difficult news regarding his health, he showed perseverance. We take pride in his sense of diligence and faithful living. We love him so much, and it’s wonderful to see how he evolves as his future unfolds.”

Additionally, Milan enjoys science and anything revolving around the subject. He thoroughly loves studying and working on new, scientific ideas and theories. 

“I love to study medicine and biology. I even have a microscope vision app I have on my phone which allows me to see microorganisms. I study diseases and then find a way to treat them. I also like gardening and botany studying,” said Milan.  

And of course, Milan is actively involved in church activities, participating in fundraisers and charities hosted by the church, and altar decor. He is a pillar of faith, and it is certain he will leave a mark on those whose lives he touches.