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Reason to Relay

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Durrance can’t wait to get on road again

By Jenna McKenna

Kolan Durrance remembers when it happened: in May of last year. He knows how it happened: he noticed a swollen lymph node under his arm; a week or so later he could hardly breathe because fluid from a tumor had filled his right lung. He knows when he started treatment and he knows about when he'll be done.

The one thing he doesn't know is why.

“My dad has an autoimmune disorder, and I've heard the trait from that can end up in some people getting non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but I didn't even know,” he says.

“It just came out of nowhere.”

Durrance was a year out of Chiefland High School when he was diagnosed. He had recently been laid off from work when he got sick, and now he's on disability. Life in the middle of treatments – he started at the end of last May and expects to be done around the end of next May – is just one big wash of uncertainty, except for the treatment itself.

“I used to have to go to the cancer clinic three or four times a week, but now I'm in my maintenance period,” he says.

“Now I only go once or twice a month, but I take oral chemo pills every day at home.”

The drug Durrance is on now, Mercaptopurine, is an immunosuppressant. So right now he's in the hospital, fighting off an infection. This being tied to pills, tied to clinic visits, tied up in the hospital business is one of the worst parts of having cancer, as far as Durrance is concerned.

“I never liked to be in the house,” he says.

“I was always one for going somewhere and doing stuff – going to a friend's house, going hunting or fishing, just going out in the yard messing around.”

That's small scale to the kind of getting out and about that he's really accustomed to. If you're looking for a great partner for an incredibly long cross-country road trip, Durrance is your guy. His longest trip ever is either the one where he went to Monterrey, Mexico to visit a friend's relatives, or else the one where he went to Marlboro (or possibly Marlborough) N.Y. to visit another friend's relatives.

The Monterrey trip was great, except for getting there.

“It was like a three-day bus ride; it was ridiculous,” he says.

After that, though, it was a two week-long party, hanging out with family and friends.

The trip to Marlborough was pretty much the same, except that instead of a bus ride, they took turns driving for 17 hours straight. Durrance is a good friend to have on a long trip – he takes his turn driving, and handles the radio.

“We have a good time,” he says.

“I think people like to have me along because I'm so easygoing.”

That easygoing nature is one of the traits that is going to get Durrance through this ordeal.

“I just take it as it goes,” he says.

“Some days I'm scared, but for the most part, I'm all right.”

It helps to have good family and friends in his corner. He says his mom, Tina, and girlfriend Kandice Driggers are probably his strongest supporters.

“They're just always there for me.”

His friends take him fishing a lot, too.

“I'll go fishing with just about anybody.”

So with a year down, and probably a year to go, Durrance is focusing on what he can do now – rest, fish, hang out with friends – and what he'd like to do next. In true road-tripper form, he thinks he'd like to see California.

“I'd like to go to L.A. and Malibu, anyplace down south by the border,” he says.

Let the year go by quickly. California, here he comes.

Kolan Durrance may stop by Tri-County Relay for Life next Friday, if he feels up to it. The Relay will be held at Chiefland Elementary on the track.