Hello and welcome to the home of The Schnurbusch Foundation. My name is Dan Schnurbusch, and my father was an incredible man. His name was Kevin, and it is in his honor and his memory that this organization was founded. Our mission is not over until science has developed a cure for cancer.
As a bit of background, Kevin Schnurbusch was born in Perryville, Missouri on October 28th, 1959 to his parents, Everett and Alma. After graduating from St. Vincent highschool in 1978, my dad went on to obtain his undergraduate degree from The University of Missouri Columbia, more commonly known as Mizzou. He graduated with his JD from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1985 before joining the St. Louis law firm of Evans & Dixon. After accumulating a significant body of civil trial experience, he and three of his fellow co-workers – Sam Rynearson, Jeff Suess, and Debbie Champion – formed their own law firm in the year 2000. It was then that the law firm of Rynearson, Suess, Schnurbusch & Champion took form. Following in my dad’s footsteps, I also attended and obtained my JD from the University of Missouri School of Law and began work at RSSC in 2016. The law firm my dad helped form and grow is still practicing today. All of its named partners are a little older and a little wiser, but the bonds of friendship and loyalty that tie the firm together are as strong as ever.
Behind the scenes to all of this was Kevin’s family: me, my sister, Erin, and my mom, Lesa. He always made it a point to place his family in priority over his work, and I was fortunate enough to have had a wonderful childhood subject to his masterful parenting. That never changed.
My dad was diagnosed with carcinoid tumors in his lung around 2008. This was also around the time that we lost both of my dad’s parents to cancer and my uncle, Phil Boice, was diagnosed as well. Phil would pass away just a few short months before my dad. The doctors explained that my dad’s was a rare form of cancer but that it would grow slowly. Believing the cancer had not yet metastasized, the damaged portion of his lung was surgically removed. For the next five years, he was essentially cancer free. However, we were then given the news that his cancer had returned, this time in his liver. A few months after removing 60% of his liver and his gall bladder, we were told that the cancer had returned yet again. He immediately began treatments of various kinds, including chemotherapy and a number of other drugs designed to further slow the growth of the tumors. The next five years were a slow decline for my dad. At first, you hardly knew he was sick. Then, the chemo was extremely hard on his body, and it was ultimately decided that they would pursue alternative treatments. His liver was injected with radioactive isotopes in an attempt to kill the tumors, a treatment which was only temporarily effective and which left his liver scarred and subject to repeated infection in the following years. Bacterial infections went septic on multiple occasions, but the doctors were able to treat him with powerful antibiotics which he had to inject intervenously every day. We were certain it would be antibiotic resistance that ultimately got him, but we turned out to be wrong.
Around December of 2017, my dad was slowing way down and showing signs of cognitive decline resulting from his failing liver. After some tests and a consultation with his doctor, he was told that his tumors had “woken up,” and that there were no remaining legal treatments that his body could endure. It was at that point that he went on hospice. December 25, 2017 – Christmas day – was one of the last days he would be able to make it down the stairs in his two story house. After the extended family left, I assumed my role alongside my mother and sister as my father’s full-time caregiver. His sisters, Doris and Karen, my grandma, June, my wife, Molly, and Erin’s husband, Jon, were also close at hand in his final weeks, in addition to countless friends and family who stopped in to help and provide food as well. After several weeks of tears and laughter and intense familial bonding, my dad slipped into a coma and passed away on January 17th, 2018 at approximately 1:10 in the afternoon.
His visitation was held the following Sunday. I swear I probably shook 300 or more hands of people who came through in a line that began at 4:00pm and did not cease until nearly 8:00pm. It was a sight to behold. It made me even more proud to call Kevin my dad. His funeral was the following day at Sacred Heart Church.
I explain all of this because I suspect it’s an all too familiar story for many of you who have found your way here. Someone you know or someone you loved has died from cancer. I’ve decided that I owe it to my father, and we owe it to ourselves to defeat this horrific disease, once and for all. The Schnurbusch Foundation was formed to help bring that vision to life by identifying institutions engaged in scientific research directed to the curing of rare cancers. Please, take a few moments to learn about who we are and why we do what we do. If you can, please don’t hesitate to donate; even small amounts add up, and we couldn’t do it without you.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story. Let’s carry on this fight together.