I’ve grown quite tired of writing about cancer, specifically in this space, but I’m also realistic.
There’s no chance that the issue of cancer will stop being a subject, and when I’m connected to a situation locally, I’ll try and bring the needed attention. I know there are hundreds — thousands even — of stories out there in Platte County of brave people dealing with this terrible disease.
I’ll also admit that I can’t fake my personal connection. I only bring up these subjects when I feel it is warranted to share with the community.
As tired as I am of writing about cancer, I could probably have a weekly column highlighting one victim in the area if I spent the time to seek them out.
Unfortunately, I don’t even have to seek them out to find them. Staying in over the weekend in the weather, I discovered a cancer survivor dealing with a potential second case, and it hit me really hard.
Todd Nugent doesn’t know I’m writing this. He didn’t ask for the attention.
That’s kind of how Todd operates. For those of you that know Todd, he gives a lot while rarely asking for much in return.
When I came to this job almost three years ago, Todd was one of the first photographers I met on the sideline. I barely knew how to operate a camera when I started, and he always answered my questions — some of which were extremely simple and stupid — in an effort to help me improve.
And Todd truly seemed to care. He would offer encouragement when he reviewed a shot of mine that he liked, even when his work was almost unanimously better than what I could do.
Todd has covered for me multiple times, providing images free of charge for publication here in our newspaper without receiving any compensation. He’s a community asset that provides images from school events and an invaluable resource now that he’s working directly with the Platte County School District.
You see, Todd survived a previous bout with leukemia. I’ve often smiled when I see his updates on being cancer free and the care he takes to show how thankful he is for having overcome that battle.
That’s what makes the weekend’s news so hard.
Todd went to the emergency room with severe headaches and doctors found a brain tumor, the size of a golf ball. He was scheduled for surgery on Monday, hoping the procedure would provide encouraging news even as he prepares for more checkups to ensure his well-being after this development.
In recent months, Todd decided to make photography his full-time job. He took the risk and branched out to shooting weddings, senior pictures for students and sporting events looking to make a living.
Todd is immensely talented and can often be seen at Platte County events trying to ensure he gets images of every player, every student. I’m always in awe of how much he gets in a limited amount of time.
You can’t replicate caring and passion in your work, and Todd always displays those characteristics.
In the face of this latest diagnosis, Todd reached out via social media and approached the situation with the right amount of humility despite the daunting procedure ahead. I could only think that I need Todd back on the sideline with me because I know he makes me a better photographer, but that’s just a selfish personal connection.
Todd has two boys at home in high school, Carter a senior ready to head off to college, and they need their dad. So that’s why the community needs to pull together again and send prayers, thoughts or good vibes — whatever you feel comfortable with — to the Nugent family.
You’ve likely seen Todd’s work if you are involved at all in the Platte County School District. He’s provided those images believing in the importance of sharing with others, and I know I’ll be standing behind him as faces this latest challenge, another chance for him to overcome unwelcome odds against him.
Get better, Todd. We’re all rooting for you this time.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.