When Rick Shank was 12 years old, his life revolved around baseball. That is, until odd things started to happen. There was a certain smell, followed by flashing colors, and he knew the vomiting would follow. When his parents took him to the doctor, he was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumor, a malignant astrocytoma. Even though the surgeon said they took extra gray matter in order to get all the fingers of the cancer, the chances of Rick surviving the next five years was pretty slim and he would probably suffer from seizures in the meantime.
The thing is, no one told Rick he was supposed to die. So after recovering from his surgery, he went right back to playing baseball. When he reached high school, he became a pitcher for East High’s baseball team and his senior year was on the All-City team. He still hadn’t shown any signs of seizures or cancer returning as he started college the next fall.
Now, 48 years after that surgery, Rick has earned 3 college degrees and is busy teaching 12 year olds at Robinson Middle School. He’s been married for almost 39 years, has two wonderful kids and a beautiful granddaughter. His sport of choice is golf and two years ago at the age of 58, Rick also became a runner. In fact, he is running in this year’s Head for the Cure in Wichita.
While Rick is grateful for the way his life has turned out, he knows it could have easily been so much different. He also realizes there are plenty of families who have had to endure the things he avoided. That’s why he felt it was important to be a part of this event and to help bring attention to the seriousness of brain cancer.