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Lon Larson

Prof. Larson shares his philosophy of life in an inspiring lecture

Drake University pharmacy professor Lon Larson recently shared the insights he has gained while battling cancer in a lecture titled “Choose Your Attitude.”

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and cancer survivors gathered to listen to Larson give the Student Leadership Development Lecture on Friday, Nov. 14, in Drake’s Sheslow Auditorium.

Experience Larson’s insightful and thought-provoking lecture in this video.

Larson, the Ellis and Nelle Levitt professor of pharmacy social and administration sciences, is a cancer patient survivor as well as the father of a cancer patient survivor.

His doctors told him in July that he had three to six months to live. He used what might have been his last lecture to encourage students to live positively and to savor each moment, even if the moment offers something unexpected or unpleasant.

“Each of us gets to choose our attitudes,” he said. “We can worry about a future that may never arrive, or relive the past, or we can live in this moment and be thankful for it.”

A 1972 graduate of Drake, Larson joined the Drake faculty in 1991. He is the only member of Drake’s faculty and staff to have twice received the University’s top award for mentors. He also received the Alumni Achievement Award from Drake’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and was named Pharmacy Teacher of the Year in 2000 and 2002.

Larson was first diagnosed with Mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in October 2006. Since then, his colleagues and current and former students have offered much support and encouragement to Larson and his wife, Linda Krypel, professor of pharmacy practice at Drake.

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Lon Larson proudly displays a T-shirt from a cancer-awareness event students organized on his behalf.

In his lecture, Larson said he was especially touched by the bone
marrow registry that students conducted while he was undergoing a stem
cell transplant in the spring of 2007. He held up a T-shirt from the
event and said the outpouring of support left him truly overwhelmed.

Larson concluded his lecture by paying tribute to baseball great Lou
Gehrig and the positive comment he made in his farewell appearance at
Yankee Stadium.

“Mr. Gehrig, if I may steal your thunder,” Larson said, “Today, I am the luckiest person in the world!”