Brady Stanton, RIP
My good friend and surrogate little brother died yesterday of pancreatic cancer in Kansas City, leaving behind his wife, Martha, his two very young sons, Henry and Pete, his brothers Todd and Jeff, his mom and dad, and everyone else who loved him (including his dog, Coyote -- pronounced Ki-Yote).
He was just a wonderful guy and one of the most popular people I've ever known -- no surprise since I never saw him once say a bad word about or be intentionally mean to anyone.
Brady was an idea-guy, an ad-guy, a lover of word play and witty repartée, and it took the two of us about two beers before becoming the best of friends when we first met back in Kansas City. He went on to publish a charming children's book with noted illustrator Peter Brunke called The Adventures of Wiki and the Rock People which sparkled with the effortless good humor of his barely submerged inner-child.
Brady was diagnosed well into stage three -- for nearly two years a slipped disc had masked the back pain that is one of the presenting symptoms -- and the tumor had gotten a serious foothold by the time they found it.
In the four months since he was diagnosed, he's shown amazing courage, grace, and wit in his battle, and literally thousands of people in Kansas City and around the globe came together to give their support -- not the least of which were the many messages on his blog, Brady's Page. Just takes a moment to register if you want to read how a man who was a terrific writer, a legendary wit, an eternal optimist, and a real fighter handles a mortal battle like the one he faced. Here's three excerpts:
June 05, 2006 at 12:38 AM CDT
I’ve heard it said by some that, “If your hair doesn’t fall out the Chemo mustn’t be working.” I’m thinking - if the Cancer doesn’t fall out then the Chemo isn’t working.
Regardless of your thoughts on the Hair-theory of cancer, my hair did begin falling out after my shower yesterday (Saturday). It wasn’t a wholesale explosion of hair, but having been blessed with a full head of hair my entire life, it seemed odd to have extra hairs lingering around the sink and on my towel as I dried off. I truly noticed when I had to untangle one that had somehow wrapped around my nose AND my eyelid?! Following this escape, I loosely grabbed a hunk of hair from the side of my head and pulled gently only to find that about 15-20 hairs easily “jumped ship”. I did it one more time on the other side just to be sure it wasn’t some fluke. It wasn’t, and I quit while I was ahead.
Now, even though that Christmas tree sitting in your family room in late January might still look fairly good despite the diminished foliage, it simply has become a fire hazard. I took the same caution with my hair.
I should state for the record (and the photographic evidence should back me on this) that this “high and tight” haircut is the result of a barber named Bud and me and "not" from excessive or patchy hair-loss. Ever since Top Gun the movie came out, I wanted to get one of those haircuts, but never had the guts.
We did know there was a chance that the Chemo I was taking might bring on some hair-loss, and I had decided that if I did start to lose my hair, rather than look like some kid’s Barbie doll with a homemade haircut, I’d streamline the situation. Shaving my hair seemed almost natural; like getting ready for boot camp.
I had been threatening Ed (my life-long barber), for years that I wanted him give me the John Daly “grip it and rip it” haircut (not the John Daly Mullett), but never followed through.
With Ed long retired, I knew I needed someone with excellent hair mowing skills to simply shave the melon. Serge, Fabbio, Turk? But who?
I caught Bud at Corinth as his last guy for the day who quickly and expertly cleaved and shore the balance of my mane leaving behind nigh but a regal stub.
Martha came with me and promised, “I won’t cry.” The importance of this promise stems from a day about 2 years ago when she called me at my office sobbing uncontrollably. I was trying to figure out what had happened. Where the boys okay?! Was she okay!? It has something to do with Pete?! What is it?!! It turns out, she had gotten Pete a buzz haircut and didn’t like how it looked.
Martha likes the way this looks. (So she says). And she didn’t cry. More to come. Our prayers to all of you.
and this one, a month later...
July 14, 2006 at 01:03 AM CDT
What’s in a Number? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. I got lots of numbers this time – and they were mostly good.
The Cancer Protein Marker went down at a nice rate from the last measurement. The cancer isn’t gone – but it’s taking a few good punches. There is also a liver enzyme they’ve been tracking (the same enzyme that almost kept me out of this protocol and that figure has now been cut virtually in half. This is like golf, where low scores are good.
It’s truly the first piece of positive medical news we’ve received in months! Heck, Dr. Wolff came in, said “You’re doing great. Good results. See you in a few weeks.” And he left. I took that as a very positive sign. In all the other meetings he’s sat down, rubbed his head and closed his eyes and stuck around for 30-60 mins talking and answering our questions. I’m not yet cured – but I am encouraged.
Needless to say, we celebrated with a trip to my favorite burger joint (Southwell’s) before heading back to that infamous Chemo-Club “MD Andy’s” for a little night-cap. It was a lovely mixture of zofran, Dexamethasone and was followed by a bag each of avastin and gemcytobene polished off with a Hepron flush. That’s tasty Chemo!
I’m giving a lot of the credit for the good test result to all of the Prayers and positive thoughts so many of you have offered for me and my family since the beginning of May. We all need to have faith in something. It took me a lot of years to come to terms with my faith and my relationship with God and Jesus, but it began to solidify when I got engaged to Martha and grew through the engagement and wedding. It really got strong as I prayed I would survive her trying to learn to cook meatloaf (it has since been banned from the house – however she is excellent at just about any other dish.) And my faith became unshakeable once we (yes, we) were pregnant with our first son, Henry. Martha and I were making and canning sweet pickles in our Fairway home in 1999 – and for those who’ve never canned there are hours of waiting and then periods of frenzy. Well, during one of those periods of waiting – now, keep it clean – Martha took one of those home pregnancy tests, and it came back POSITIVE! That too was a good test result. About half an hour later, Chris Rodgers called (yes Chris Rodgers of Care Page fame) saying he was in town and wanted to drop by; which he did. He was the first to know and we began to refer to our new developing Angel as “pickles”.
With each child we were blessed with and the miracles that they are and the trials they bring, my faith grew (and grows) stronger. I finally had some idea as to what a part of Life was about. It’s about kids. It’s about being one, and having one (or many), in raising them or helping someone else raise theirs, it’s about growing up yourself but never forgetting we all start as kids and we are all the children of God.
I love my Life, I love my Wife AND her excellent cooking. I love my children and my family and I have discovered that Faith is about the most powerful thing you can tap into as a human. That power is amplified exponentially with the addition of family, friends and caring, loving people of all faiths across the neighborhood, the country and truly around the world praying.
I am so humbled by all of this. And I am so indebted to all of you who have taken the Time and put forth the Energy (both extremely valuable and limited resources) to pray for me and my family. I know that I would not be in such good shape mentally, spiritually and physically (174 lbs! and No Meatloaf) without all of your good actions.
I thank you for helping me and my family in this battle – and for being a part of the GOOD RESULTS! Let’s hope it’s just the beginning of better days and results to come. I have faith it will. Go celebrate at your own personal Southwell’s – you’ve all earned it.
God Bless you all.
Brady, Martha, Henry, Pete and Coyote
And here is his last entry. Note the indomitable spirit -- and the apology to shark lovers! This was a man with not a single mean bone in his body....
August 13, 2006 at 03:44 PM CDT
It’s all about ”Change”
(It’s both Good and potentially Good)
The factually “Good” information is that the Tumor Marker they were tracking once again went down a significant amount (50%), and my blood work is great – including my liver function falling back into normal ranges.
The factually “Different” news comes from the CT scan results. They show that a portion of the tumor has moved to the cells in my belly-fat, and my liver tumors show mixed results with some shrinking and some growing (go figure why my blood tests show normal function).
I also developed my first blood clot in my leg. With my type of cancer and the drugs I’m on, this was a very likely side-effect. We’re treating it with Lovenox (a twice daily injection) which should prevent any further spreading as well as to allow my body to break down any existing blockages.
What it boils down to is we are “likely” going to come OFF of the Protocol and shift to a different treatment procedure to better attack the currently “poorly responding” portion of the disease. It’s a little difficult to explain, but the best analogy we came up with was to imagine my cancer as a “pack of sharks”- some are “reef sharks” and some are “Tigers”. The treatments so far have knocked off some of the sharks, but not all of them. We’re hoping to knock-off the rest of them (apologies to shark lovers – it’s just an analogy).
We are working on many options, however Dr. Wolff strongly recommends one called GTX. It includes gemcytobene (one of the drugs I‘ve been taking) and has proved effective in fighting pancreatic cancer. The other two are new to my system.
The side effects should be similar, however the “T” will cause TOTAL hair loss. This does perhaps support the theory about “Hair loss” and Chemo success. Half of of my hair fell out on the current program as did half of the cancer. If ALL of the hair falls out, so should the rest of the cancer!
We will be making decisions this week as to which route we take, but our preliminary study seems to support Wolff’s recommendation. If we choose this path, we may also be able to do much of the Chemo in KC.
Again, thank you for all of your support and prayers. We believe we are still heading in the right direction and that we will beat this thing. Please continue all of your prayers and good wishes – we couldn’t do this without you.
God Bless you all!
Brady, Martha, Henry, Pete and Coyote
And God bless you, Brady, for all that you brought to all of us. Our thoughts are with you, and with your kids, and with Martha (your "raven-haired beauty" as you often called her). We will miss you deeply, but your laugh lives on.
I'll be back in KC until Sunday, and largely off-line.
Here's Brady's complete obit from the Kansas City Star:
Stanton, Brady Duncan
After a short but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer, Brady Duncan Stanton, 40, of Leawood, Kansas passed away at home on August 26, 2006. He was born April 28, 1966 to Roger and Judith Duncan Stanton. He grew up in Prairie Village, Kansas attending Briarwood Elementary, Meadowbrook Junior High and Shawnee Mission East High School where he was a member of the football team, Chamber Singers, and the Pep Club Executive Committee. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in advertising where he was active in campus politics serving as Student Body President. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity where he served as director of Rock Chalk Review, writing original music and lyrics for the annual production. He loved watching Royals baseball and was an avid Jayhawk fan. Following graduation he worked for More Than Media Advertising and won several Omni awards for original ads. He began his commercial real estate career with Cohen Esrey and then established his own business Commercial Realty Arts. In 1997, he married Martha Cernich and they have two sons Henry Thomas (6) and Peterson Quinn (5), who meant the world to him and were his inspiration. Brady's passion has always been writing. He has written poetry, essays, several unpublished novels and a published children's book, The Adventures of Wiki and the Rock People. He was accomplished at writing, singing and playing music on the piano or guitar, and creating cartoons. He was a designer and builder of furniture, toys, games, and a home remodeler at heart. His continually expanding vegetable garden was a source of pride. Brady will be remembered for his wonderful ability to make friends who have stayed together and supported him and his family throughout his illness. He was preceded in death by his grandparents Helen and George Stanton, Marysville, Kansas and Dorothy Creason Duncan, Overland Park, Kansas. He is survived by his grandfather Lester L. Duncan, Prairie Village, Kansas; his parents; his wife and 2 sons; brothers Jeffrey Stanton (wife, Sarah and children Kathryn, Duncan, Charlie), Overland Park, Kansas and Todd Stanton, Los Angeles, California; aunts, uncle, cousins and in-laws. Visitation will be Tuesday, August 29 at Old Mission United Methodist Church, Fairway, Kansas from 6-8PM. There will be a memorial service on Wednesday, August 30, at 11 AM at the church with a reception to follow. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations my be sent to the Stanton Children's Memorial Education Fund, in care of Peggy Melton at the Country Club Bank, 2001 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Shawnee Mission, Kansas 66205. We wish to thank the doctors and nurses at M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas and St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City for their care and support during Brady's treatment. Brady's passing has left a huge hole in our hearts and lives. He will be greatly missed and remembered by his family and friends. To leave a special message for the family, please visit our website at www.PenwellGabel.com.
Published in the Kansas City Star from 8/28/2006 - 8/29/2006.
Sean Hogan was kind enough to send along the eulogy he delivered at Brady's memorial service. Brady would have loved it.
Brady loved Music, especially meaningful lyrics:
He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout' the options and talking bout' sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
How's it hit 'cha when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?
I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'
Those lyrics by Tim McGraw don’t describe how Brady spent the last four months -- they talk about how he approached life.
What you saw in his writings over the past 4 months was not a newly acquired outlook, it was a testament to the man he was, and the way he lived.
Hopefully, you got a chance to read some of the stories he posted.
So rather than get into some “quick hitters” that might incriminate yours truly and many other folks in this room (something about a statute of limitations) permit me to paint a picture that hopefully everyone will be able to relate to, and I will add some approved facts along the way.
I met Brady in the summer of 1984, it was a lifeguarding gig, he was a sub, and it was pouring rain. We closed the pool, but rather than go home, I laid down a challenge – 3 hours, 10 games of gutter-ball and 6 beers later a 10-year living arrangement was born.
At one point, our mothers were concerned that we had a common-law marriage – though we found out later that our 4-month separation when he left me to live in Colorado ended any concerns.
Brady was a proud Jayhawk, he loved the Phi Delt house, but most importantly, he loved his fraternity brothers.
During our 4 years at KU, Brady’s personal hygiene and morning hair styling often came into question.
There were certain weeks where showering and shaving were simply not a top priority. If Brady was substantially unpacked by Christmas vacation, we were most certainly ahead of the game.
Brady claimed to have a wide attention span (translation, easily distracted) – always looking for the fun, the different, the way to stir the pot.
He taught us about the “waffle treatment”, a sadistic form of guy-hazing, I believe passed down from his brother Jeff, to terrorize his younger brother Todd. It involved a hairbrush, a tennis racket, and a bare backside – I will leave it at that.
In class, if Brady didn’t like the questions, he simply re-wrote them. While this didn’t always sit well with his professors, they certainly admired his out-of-the-box thinking.
As KU student body president, he commanded a sizeable budget to spread among the various student organizations; he also commanded a sizeable following of angry crew team members – he never quite understood why they needed so many boats.
When you asked Brady if he wanted to go have a beer, his standard response was… “I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”
After college, he left me and moved to Colorado, I was sad … but then he came back…I was happy!
Brady and I shared our first house with Brent Thompson and Andy Hendricks, over in the Valentine neighborhood of KCMO. We always had lots of visitors, some we invited, others that wandered in off Southwest Trafficway - - Brady knew no strangers, but come on!
The wiring was substandard, the bathroom was in the basement, and the dog ate most of the woodwork -- but we did have a putting green in the backyard (Brady’s first outdoor project, and a good use of his Journalism degree) – We called it home.
Then one day, Brady came home and from the top of the stairs uttered those magic words that we will never forget: “Pack your bags boys, we are moving to Fairway”! It was as if the red sea had parted again. So began the saga of NORWOOD.
NORWOOD (AKA LITTLE ARROWHEAD)
To say that our lifestyle on Norwood didn’t present a good role model for the rest of the street was an understatement - but the kids loved us, and we also provided a safe drinking haven for many of the young fathers in the neighborhood.
Norwood was the HQ for every football game and pay-per-view fight from 1990 to 1994. We actually believed the Chiefs were going to the Super Bowl – the naivité of youth.
As a homemaker, Brady would often surprise us with a new dinner dish. One day he called me at work to tell me he had secretly learned the recipe of Romanelli’s fried catfish – I walked in the front door over taken by the odor and followed the smoke to the kitchen where Brady was breading and pan-frying the nasty little critters.
Brady re-engineered the fine country tradition of sitting in folding chairs in the driveway, drinking beer and listening to baseball on the radio, by introducing a 35” color television to the mix. Complete with cable that he tethered over the top of the house – we had to park in the street.
TV was very big in the house; Brady maintained that there was no such thing as a bad movie after 10pm, especially on weeknights.
Game shows were very important to us. We often pondered what the job qualifications were to be security guards on Million-Dollar Chance of a Lifetime.
There was rarely a dull moment around the house; Brady was always looking for a holiday to have a party or at least a gathering: Christmas, Valentines Day, Arbor Day… to borrow a phrase from a popular movie, "every fall the trees were covered in toilet paper, every spring, the toilets exploded."
He had a special gift of bringing people together at parties -- the trash man and his stockbroker -- and made sure they had a wonderful time together.
In Brady’s Home - everyone was welcome
You learn a lot about a person when you spend so much time together:
Brady was the type of guy that generally turned left when the sign said turn right.
He never judged a person by appearance – he was a friend to the Jock the freak, the geek and all mixes in between.
He did not make demands or put expectations on others.
If you needed a favor, the answer was always YES.
He didn’t worry about what other people thought, he simply did.
I learned a lot from my Friend, some things I had forgotten about until recently – but he has once again helped me gain perspective.
Brady was an:
•And a FRIEND
SATURDAY, MAY 6TH - THE FIRST CAREPAGE NOTE
It is easier to be "in the game" than to be forced to "watch from the sidelines."
His greatest sadness was that he did not want any of us to suffer from his illness.
I am going to speak for Brady now:
Remember – life is precious, family are precious, friends are precious. Don’t sit on the bench, get in the game … call an old friend, change the rules, take a left, tell someone you love them just because, go sky diving! It's okay to let Peter Pan come out... enjoy life!
He did! And don’t worry; he will always be there to remind you.
I love you my Brother.
Wednesday, August 30th, 2006
Old Mission United Methodist Church