CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports called the 12 Days of Christmas in December 2014. They showcase neighborhoods and families in need who have been helped by the community and area non-profit organizations.

“I wasn’t afraid of dying for me, I was afraid of dying for the people that loved me, because I know that they would have the hardest time.” – Brandon Schantz, 2007.

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DENVER (CBS4) – In the spring of 2007, Brandon Schantz was training for a marathon and thought he had a bad case of bronchitis. A visit to the doctor and a chest X-ray found a volleyball sized tumor, and a diagnosis of non-testicular germ cell cancer.

Schantz underwent chemo for over 4 months and then had two surgeries to remove the tumor. In November, Schantz was chosen to be a cancer survivor spokesman for Bristol Meyer Squibb, but re-entered the hospital on Nov. 25. Schantz was diagnosed with a second cancer (histiocytic sarcoma of the soft tissue) and passed away on Dec. 6, 2007, at the age of 27.

Mark Haas, right, with Brandon Schantz' family, left (credit: CBS)

Mark Haas, right, with Brandon Schantz’ family, left (credit: CBS)

I met Brandon in 2004 as a summer intern at KGWN CBS5 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Schantz was the sports director and became my mentor, my adviser and my friend. He made sports fun and had a personality made for television.

“The first time I saw him on camera it was like he had been doing it forever,” his mother Kim Schantz said.

Brandon Schantz (credit: CBS)

Brandon Schantz (credit: CBS)

Schantz loved his job in Cheyenne because it allowed him to cover his favorite team – the Denver Broncos.

“It was his dream to meet the Broncos and John Elway,” his younger brother Ryan Schantz said. “I remember playing football in the backyard and he’d put on a Broncos jersey and he’d cream me like I was the opposite team. He loved the Broncos.”

Brandon Schantz (credit: CBS)

Brandon Schantz (credit: CBS)

Schantz was still young in his career, but he loved helping others get started in theirs — myself included.

“I remember you coming on and Brandon said, ‘Dad, he is really green but he will be good,’ ” Schantz’s father Sean said. “Brandon was just excited to work with people. He really enjoyed bringing out the best in them.”

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After Brandon beat cancer the first time, he wanted to help kids battling cancer. He never got the chance, but it’s a cause his family has continued today.

“Brandon loved kids and they loved him,” Kim said. “And I have always known in my heart it was important to him to help kids and help kids with cancer.”

LINK: The Brandon Schantz Wellness Fund

Additional Resources

Contributions can be made to the Brandon Schantz Wellness Fund at Children’s Hospital Colorado:

The Brandon Schantz Wellness Fund
c/o Marylou Houston
Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation
13123 E Colfax Ave B-045
Aurora CO 80210
(720) 777-1700

A description of the Wellness Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado follows:

Dr. Bob Casey has pioneered a comprehensive and holistic approach to caring for the entire family as they go through a cancer journey here at Children’s Colorado. He supervises a team that includes caregivers from disciplines as diverse as psychology, social work, child life and recreation therapy, pastoral care, acupressure and creative art therapy. The Wellness Team helps not only the child fighting cancer but also that child’s siblings and parents as they deal with the emotional stresses and logistical challenges presented by a life-threatening illness. Dr. Casey’s team is funded almost entirely by philanthropic support, and gifts to this program help us provide services that insurance will never cover but that we know (and have proven) help patients have better outcomes and also helps the family survive and thrive in the face of the toughest of foes: pediatric cancer.

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