Singer from Whiteville says he's 'weak physically, but strong spiritually'

Singer from Whiteville says he's 'weak physically, but strong spiritually'

WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) - In the face of hardship and uncertainty, Dustin Chapman keeps singing.

The Whiteville native who has a rare disease called achalasia that limits his ability to eat and drink was admitted to Duke Hospital last week. Chapman's mother posted on Facebook that Chapman, a singer who was invited to audition for America's Got Talent and opened for country music artist Luke Bryan, is malnourished and experiencing low blood pressure and heart rate.

On WECT News Now Tuesday afternoon, Chapman said in a phone interview that despite the physical setbacks affecting him, he is maintaining a positive outlook and sharing that positivity with his fellow patients.

"At the Duke Cancer Center, they have a piano patients can play," Chapman said about a video of him performing while hooked up to an IV. "I decided to sing one of my original Christian songs for the patients and it was just so heart-warming and so gratifying to do so.

"It's a four-story building. People on every floor were clapping and crying. They came up to me and just told me how much they needed that. It was very therapeutic for me and for them also."

Achalasia, which affects one in 100,000 people, causes the muscles in the esophagus to lose their function, making eating and drinking difficult.

Chapman had surgery in 2015 and he said it helped for about 18 months, but the disease has no known cure and his symptoms returned in 2017.

"It's just gotten worse," he said. "It leads to malnourishment and severe dehydration."

On Tuesday, Chapman had a feeding tube installed and said doctors are considering a permanent feeding tube for his stomach, which sounds more dire but would likely be better for his singing career.

Through it all, Chapman remains focused on what keeps him happy.

"I try to stay busy with all the music stuff so I don't get down," said Chapman, who will remain in Duke's care for two weeks as doctors experiment with different medicines and treatments. "It's worked so far. ... I'm weak physically, but strong spiritually."

Chapman said an audition with The Voice might be in his future and other music-related things that he couldn't discuss.

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