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Archive for Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lawrence youth pastor loses battle with bone cancer

Brandon white and his wife, Jody, are shown in the sanctuary of Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt., in this July 8, 2008, file photo. Brandon White, 29, who was the youth pastor at the church, died Wednesday morning at Kansas University Hospital after a battle with bone cancer.

Brandon white and his wife, Jody, are shown in the sanctuary of Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt., in this July 8, 2008, file photo. Brandon White, 29, who was the youth pastor at the church, died Wednesday morning at Kansas University Hospital after a battle with bone cancer.

May 6, 2009

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In the last months of his life, Brandon White only reinforced Chad Theisen’s summation of his friend: “He’s willing to help anybody.”

On a recent road trip with Theisen, White noticed two travelers at a gas station down on their luck. White offered them $10 for gas to help them get home.

White, the youth pastor at Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt., died Wednesday morning at Kansas University Hospital after a battle with bone cancer. He was 29.

White had been struggling with pleomorphic sarcoma since he was a teenager. His first bout came during his years at Lawrence High School, when a “pulled muscle” in baseball turned out to be cancer in his right leg.

After receiving treatment, he lived nearly a decade cancer-free, attending Kansas University before graduating from a three-year ministry apprenticeship program, becoming a pastor at Heartland Community, getting married to his wife, Jody, and raising a son. In spring 2008, the cancer returned and on July 1, 2008, his right leg was amputated at the hip socket.

White said that though he had lost his leg, he knew he had gained a powerful experience that would help him spread the word of God.

“I think all these experiences I’m having in life,” White said in July 2008, “both in the ministry and in my personal life with my health ... I think all those experiences are preparing me for what God has in store for me to do.”

Friend Bethany Shelton says that White didn’t just talk about using those experiences, he did it, even after his cancer reappeared for a final time in January of this year.

“His faith was very vibrant and deepened through the process,” Shelton said. “He really felt like ... he really thought he had learned some lessons. He was very passionate and his faith was really real. He wanted to live to share that with people and give them hope.”

She said that was the hardest thing about his death — that he had been so eager to stay alive with the simple goal of giving hope to others.

Theisen said White had most certainly given him hope.

“I definitely think that my life is going to be changed just by knowing him and knowing his family,” Theisen said.

White is survived by Jody and their 3-year-old son. Heartland’s pastor, Paul Gray, who is Jody’s father and White’s father-in-law, said the church is accepting donations for the family through the Brandon White Cancer Fund. The family is struggling under the weight of medical bills, Gray said.

For more information on White and his fight with cancer, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/brandonwhite.

A viewing will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday at Warren-McElwain Mortuary. Memorial services will be at Heartland Community at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Comments

Dayle Hodges 4 years, 11 months ago

I didn't know this young man either, but I do believe he is in God's arms now, free from pain. I am sure his family will miss him, but they are probably rejoicing that he has gone Home. I was sorry to read the first post here, sorrier still for the person who posted it....

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ReadingSports 4 years, 11 months ago

Nice post Yellowhouse.

While I didn't actually ever meet Brandon, I know that his faith journey has been an Inspiration and a Blessing to many.

Sometimes God puts people on this earth to define the rest of us. Brandon is a mirror for those of us still here. Look at him and ask yourself "Can I do as well with the time that I have?"

I also know that this too is for God's Glory.

My prayers go out to his family, and to the many people that will mourn his absence.

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Jim Williamson 4 years, 11 months ago

"Is this objective reporting or religious testifying?"

I bet you're a load of fun at parties.

May this exceptional young man be as free as the wind, as soft as sheeps’ wool, as straight as an arrow that he may journey into the heart of God.

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sm1uknow 4 years, 11 months ago

"Is this objective reporting or religious testifying?"

I would say this is excellent reporting. Talking about the life Brandon lived without mentioning his deep and abiding faith would be leaving out what he considered the most important thing in his life. Having known Brandon for over 20 years, I can't imagine the reporter saying nothing of how his faith grew stronger and deeper as he dealt with what was happening. Read his blog and you will see the reporter was objective as Brandon's faith was the basis of his life.

He was a very happy and kind child who grew to an amazing adult and touched so many lives. He will be very much missed. Prayers to his family.

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madmike 4 years, 11 months ago

For once, I am siding with Defender and Pywacket!

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yellowhouse 4 years, 11 months ago

Brandons Journey has just begun!

How could one person have so much to give, And teach us the meaning of life, When he himself had so little time to live?

A steadfast love he possessed for the Lord he set the bar on serving Jesus name, He filled the church with the lives he touched He loved all people the same.

He was always there to help a friend For a friend truly was he showing his faithfulness in his works His life was a gift of love and generosity.

We cannot know why a life so precious A life lived so well was ended. But as the darkness of shadows fall We rest assured to heaven he has ascended.

We know that he was yours dear Lord A gift on loan to us for only a short while But oh what a glorious gift he was So precious and true was his smile!

Into thy hands that cradle him now his journey on earth now is through A life that was lived to the fullest on earth, Now in heaven and lifted up to you.

His life was a journey on earth Today we celebrate his heavenly birth Fear not death for it's just a new birth It's a pathway to heaven, our journey from earth!

Every journey must begin and must end And every journey's ending is a new beginning!.

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anjmarie30 4 years, 11 months ago

Dear "misplaced"... I know it can be hard to understand why God allows good people like Brandon to suffer. The best answer I've found is to view these things from an eternal perspective. God's ways are not our ways and life on earth is but a blink compared to eternity in heaven. Some are called to suffer and draw even nearer to God. When our worldly "junk" is stripped away, we can see Him more clearly and help others see Him too. Brandon and his family most certainly have done this.The journal on their website captures this amazing journey of faith and surrender: www.caringbridge.org/visit/brandonwhite.

Believers can take heart in the fact that Brandon isn't suffering any more, but surrounded by the many rewards God has promised him for his good works while on earth. We can pray for his family can close friends who miss him so dearly.

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yellowhouse 4 years, 11 months ago

Although we all in a terminal state, it is hard to understand why God would choose to take someone so young, and with so much to live for.

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Steve Jacob 4 years, 11 months ago

Very sorry for the loss. 29 is too young.

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Christine Anderson 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm not an atheist, but perhaps at times like this it would be better to be one. I find it very, very hard to understand why God allows things like this to happen to people who dedicate their whole lives to Him. I mean, if God is as merciful and loving as I've been taught to believe He is, then stuff like this just plain would not happen to persons like Mr. White. Nor would my sister have died of breast cancer at 45, or my youngest child's best buddy been killed by an inattentive and idiotic driver. The rapist, the child murderer, that sort of person would deserve it. Not this man.

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RedwoodCoast 4 years, 11 months ago

I had an uncle with multiple myeloma in the late 1980's. He had an experimental bone marrow transplant in the early '90's, which cured him for a time. In the mid-90's, he developed Hodgkins, from which he recovered. Then in about 2000 or so, the bone cancer came back. All-in-all, he battled cancer for about the last 13 years of his life before succumbing to it.

Cancer is certainly no laughing matter, and I seem to have a prevalence of it in my paternal lineage. Hopefully, we can one day figure out how to more effectively and precisely target the malignant cells that cause various cancers. Who knows, maybe we'll discover that viruses cause many types of cancers. In any case, I sincerely hope that we will eventually find more effective ways of treating it so that folks like Brandon and my uncle can live longer, more rewarding lives.

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none2 4 years, 11 months ago

Its a sad story, I wish the best for his friends, family, and parishioners. Over 10 years ago, we lost a co-worker to some kind of bone cancer in his leg. He had some rare leukemia as a child that he was supposedly cured of, but then this cancer came. His family tried everything to help save him, but there was nothing they could do.

Normally, I don't consider myself an ageist. Dead baby or dead senior citizen, death sucks. The ones you love miss you whether your cute and cuddly or wrinkled and hopefully wise. It doesn't make a distinction between whether you are a mean soulless atheist, a kind soulful atheist, a judgmental religious person, or an apple pie religious person. From your loved ones left behind, there is an uncrossable separation.

Unfortunately, until near the end, I would avoid him like the plague. I had no fear of "catching" something, but I just felt like I would say something really stupid, or stare the wrong way when his head swelled up from chemo/radiation. What kind of chit/chat can possibly deal with the dying? Are you going to ask a dying person if they have picked their coffin or finished their will? I kept my mouth shut.

We all went to see him near the end. He fought to the very end which was just before his 23rd birthday.

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my_viewpoint 4 years, 11 months ago

No, Strontius...not self-righteous...it's just what God promises. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Did you know Brandon? He would want you to know how much God loves you and that there is an eternal consequence for our choices. That's all. Let's not get ugly.

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my_viewpoint 4 years, 11 months ago

No, Strontius...not self-righteous...it's just what God promises. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Did you know Brandon? He would want you to know how much God loves you and that there is an eternal consequence for our choices. That's all.

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couranna1 4 years, 11 months ago

sounds like a good dude who will be missed

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TrooGrit 4 years, 11 months ago

Strontius, your words were not kind. You deserve no pass on this. Just get over yourself, and just know you don't have all the answers. Why don't you open your mind to other philosophophical beliefs and just get over yourself...knothead!

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Strontius 4 years, 11 months ago

"You may want to consider this because YOUR worst nightmare will be where you may be spending eternity."

Nice.

Way to denigrate the memory of someone who died so young and tragically by reinforcing the stereotype of the self-righteous Christian.

I'm sure that's exactly what Brandon would have wanted.

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my_viewpoint 4 years, 11 months ago

Brandon was a fine young man with a true heart for the Lord. He will be missed here on earth. For those who have faith, we know God will comfort his family and give them peace beyond comprehension.

To yourworstnightmare: I once saw a bumper sticker that read, "Get a life; Then give it to Jesus." You may want to consider this because YOUR worst nightmare will be where you may be spending eternity.

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Strontius 4 years, 11 months ago

"I hope that no one reads your comment and thinks that all atheists are so soulless and mean spirited."

First of all, most religious people already do.

Second, you're assuming he's an atheist. He complained about "objective reporting". Not classy, but not a declaration. I also don't see the phrase he's quoting in the article. Was it removed? If so, maybe someone agreed.

The article says that the family is struggling with their medical bills. Well, I hope everyone here offering prayers and condolences is also pulling out their wallets and making a sizable donation to his family. Words are easy and largely meaningless without action to back them up.

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Pywacket 4 years, 11 months ago

Love and peace to Brandon's family. He was apparently a wonderful young man with so much to share. His child is the same age as the child of a dear friend of mine who died unexpectedly 15 years ago, so I know what an extra wrench that puts into it--you are so thankful that your loved one left the precious gift of this child to those who survive him... yet, at the same time, it is so painful to know all the loving moments the two of them will miss sharing over the years.


As an atheist, I condemn the hurtful and vicious comment of yourworstnightmare. You do not have to share the faith of Brandon and his family to be respectful and kind in the face of his recent death! You are an embarrassment and I hope that no one reads your comment and thinks that all atheists are so soulless and mean spirited.

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Defender 4 years, 11 months ago

yourmosthatefulnightmare, this man meant a great deal to my children and my family. I will be placing a request that your posting priveledges be removed from this site. You are a horrible human being, I hope your mother is proud. Pig.

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christy kennedy 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, peace and condolences to all on the loss of such a good and kind-hearted soul. Although thanks to worstnightmare, I hope none of his friends or family reads the comment section. No, it's not objective reporting, but reflects the sentiments of those in the story. What a jerk you are to say that in the very first comment after a story about someone's death. Were you raised by wolverines? (Apologies to wolverines everywhere.)

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supercowbellninja 4 years, 11 months ago

Dang, "nightmare" - a beloved local figure just died and all you care about is objective reporting? Get a life and crawl back under your stupid rock.

White sounds like and was an amazing person and he will be missed. Thought this story did a good job summing that and more up.

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Marc Mondi 4 years, 11 months ago

Very sorry to hear of Brandon's passing. I did not know Brandon as well as my brother did, but from my encounters with him he was always a kind, genuine person. Rest in Peace, Brandon.

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christopherhess 4 years, 11 months ago

Your upcoming nightmare is intensifying as you question the sacrosant.

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yourworstnightmare 4 years, 11 months ago

"Now he’s a real angel."

Ugh. Is this objective reporting or religious testifying?

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