David Squires peered at a sample of blood under a microscope. It was the spring of 1993, and in a few weeks, he’d graduate as valedictorian from Brigham Young University and go on to start medical school.
That day, Squires realized he couldn’t complete his histology class assignment.
“I was looking at my blood in class. I discovered I had leukemia,” he said.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, to be exact.
Today, Squires uses his experience with cancer to help others.
The Augusta oncologist recently accepted a call as president of the Augusta stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He, along with the newly called David Hunt and David Johnson, lead the 4,500-member stake, which reaches from Harlem to Aiken to Swainsboro, Ga.
Since its inception in 1830, the LDS church has operated under the leadership of a lay clergy.
Hunt and Johnson, who also bear the title of president, were called as first and second counselors, respectively.
Hunt is an assistant professor of sociology at Augusta State University. He and his wife, Cathy, have four children. For the last year and a half, he has served as second counselor to former President J. Vaun McArthur, president of the Augusta stake for more than 10 years.
Johnson is a quality assurance engineer with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. He and his wife, Marlane, have six children.
Squires has been in private practice at Augusta Oncology Associates since 2003. He comes to Georgia by way of an oncology fellowship at National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
Squires said he made the decision to become an oncologist shortly after discovering his own cancer.
“It was three years of intense chemo,” Squires said. “I called a local oncologist. He said, ‘This has a 50 percent chance of killing you.’ ”
The doctors recommended he drop out or postpone medical school.
“I went home and opened up the Book of Mormon,” Squires said. “I asked if God would heal me. … I felt the answer was no. I asked, ‘What would you ask me to do in this situation?’ He opened up my mind to the possibilities that even the physicians didn’t tell me. I asked to do chemo as outpatient. It was harder than I thought it would be.”
Yet, Squires started and completed medical school without delay.
During that time, “I was able to convince this young woman to marry me with no hair and even being very, very sick,” he said.
Today, he and his wife, Amie, have five children.
“They are blessings. We didn’t know if we’d be able to have children,” he said.
Today, Squires added with a laugh, “We’re drowning in blessings.”