By Judy Clabes
One of the great mysteries of humankind is why bad things happen to good people — and that’s the question the whole community of Independence and more are asking about young Brad Franzen’s colon cancer.
The community is rallying around this young man “who did everything right” as he is dealing with a surprising diagnosis at such a young age. At 24, without having so much as a clue, he learned he had stage four colon cancer and there was no cure.
Having been an active and popular athlete at Simon Kenton High School, playing football and baseball, and being a member of the National Honor Society, Brad graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in biomedical engineering. He married his longtime sweetheart, Abbey, shortly after graduation — and they were on track for happily-ever-aftering. He was starting on his engineering career, he and Abbey were traveling, and he was staying physically active.
He never felt sick. Until one day, home from a brief vacation with Abbey, after three years of marriage, he had severe stomach pains and went to the emergency room. The diagnosis was colon cancer — and from there, his life and Abbey’s changed dramatically. Aggressive chemotherapy treatments have put Brad’s job on hold and permeate every aspect of his life.
“Here’s a young man who grew up in our community, worked hard and did everything right,” said Independence Mayor Chris Reinersman. “His parents have been active, contributing members — coaching kids and giving back. His mom Carol has served on City Council for 18 years. Mark has always worked with kids. His parents are pillars of the community.”
The community is definitely showing the family its collective regard. When news got around, the Mayor, City Manager and other members of council wanted to help. A committee was formed and multiple fundraising activities are underway and planned to help with Brad’s medical expenses. Independence Christian Church is helping with a GoFundMe campaign.
Stephen Kidd is spearheading an auction to be held April 17-23 on EBTH.com. He and the committee are accepting donations of value to be auctioned off — until the end of March. Offer your items on the email for at battleforbrad.com.
Councilwoman Amy Engleman is spearheading a raffle, to be held in June. There’ll be a charity motorcycle ride on October 16 sponsored by Cin-City and High Stakes Harley-Davidson.
As for Brad, he is beyond grateful for his community’s help — but he is becoming a #1 champion for colon cancer awareness and urges every man — especially young men — to get screened.
“Colon cancer is increasing in younger people,” he said. “I never thought that it could happen to me. I grew up playing sports. I was very active. It never occurred to me that I could have colon cancer.”
In late 2019, looking back, he said he was constipated a lot. He didn’t take that as a sign then.
“It seems like a fluke,” he said. “Even then, I’ve been lucky. They told me I had 2-3 years to live — but I aim to live longer. Everybody is different.”
He feels age is really his advantage — that, and a positive attitude.
“You just have to have a good attitude,” Brad said. And, he does, even given the aggressive chemotherapy which takes a lot out of him.
Brad reiterates for every man to be informed about colon cancer — thus the informational boxes included on this page — and that every man get screened.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” he said. “Early detection matters. Don’t wait.”