Copper Hills Choir Teacher Battles Cancer With Support of the Community


The Cancer Center at Jordan Valley Medical Center

Jessica Virgin, Managing Editor

Last year in the U.S. cancer took the lives of over 600,000 people and an estimated 1,600,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed. Over 9 million people died of cancer worldwide in 2018. Cancer occurs when the body’s normal control mechanism stops functioning and old cells will not die but instead grow out of control, causing a new kind of abnormal cell to form. These erratic and abnormal cells form tumors which cause major damage and problems to the affected area. Depending on where the tumor forms define what kind of cancer it is. One of our teachers here at Copper Hills High School suffered from this often fatal disease. Mr. Taylor, the choir teacher and genius musician here at Copper Hills was diagnosed with Colorectal cancer. 

Once the news spread through the school, everyone was absolutely devastated. It was hard for him to tell everyone, especially his students, but when he brought it to the attention of former principal Mr. Quarnberg he told Mr. Taylor, “whatever you need we’re here for you.” He felt nothing but great support from the faculty, his students, and his community who were behind him every step of the way. “It’s amazing,” he said, “to see the wonderful, beautiful side of humanity when people come out to support you.” There was even a parent of a student who came in and served as a long-term sub for Mr. Taylor while he was getting treatments and surgeries. “I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Although his support system was great with all of his family, friends, coworkers, and students behind him, his endeavor was no easy task. The drugs the doctors had him take numbed his hands and feet, fillings his limbs with piercing tingles. The cold makes it even worse, one-touch to a cold surface and his hands will begin to ache. That kind of cold hurts, and as the seasons get colder his body begins to feel discomfort and his feet become sore. Chemotherapy is a ruthless process, and it left Mr. Taylor with permanent nerve damage in his fingertips. However, he said that the emotional pain was even worse than the physical pain.


The statistics for rectal cancer aren’t comforting. The doctors informed Taylor that there was a 50% chance that he would die in 5 years. Although that thought was scary, the scariest part for him was the people he would have to leave behind. “I didn’t want to leave my family, with young kids still at home…I didn’t want to leave them without a dad.” He didn’t want to leave his students either, nor the amazing experiences he might miss out on and all the things he loves about life. The amount of pain Mr. Taylor had to go through is one few will ever experience, but he did share some wisdom on what you can do to better help those people going through such a trial.


Your love, support, and time are the greatest gifts you can give. Breast cancer as one example has come such a far way with all the help and volunteer service that has been attributed to finding a cause. That kind of dedication and hard work can do wonders for those who are diagnosed with cancer. If a doctor tells you that you have breast cancer, they’ll have a steady treatment plan for you and you’ll most likely have a good chance at recovery. So much research and effort go into answering those questions every patient has and helping doctors perceive what the best option is for that person. Each cancer is different and affects the body differently. So pick a cancer that hits closest to home and help out. Volunteer, donate money, do the fun runs, wear ribbons and spread awareness. That passion and drive can push amazing amounts of progress to finding a solution for cancer. 

There’s so much more to be done, so many more lives that you can help save. People don’t understand what it’s like to go through heavy chemotherapy. It’s more than just losing your hair. It’s the physical endurance and the emotional trauma. It’s looking death in the eye and still having hope even when your body is failing. You can find out what you can do in your community to help people through this process at,,, and many other places. 

Mr. Taylor has a happy ending though. He goes to his screenings every 3 months to check up on his process and soon when he hits his 5-year mark he will be, by all definitions, free from cancer. He’s living happily now with his family and is still teaching music to the loving students of Copper Hills. Although the research done on colorectal cancer is progressing, wear a dark blue ribbon showing your support for this specific kind of cancer. Mr. Taylor, we love you, we support you, and we are so glad that you’re here with us today. Thank you for all you do for the grizzlies!