A Day at the Ballgame: Daniel Brightman's Story

A cancer diagnosis usually means months of treatment with the likelihood of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and years of recovery. But that’s not the path Daniel Brightman chose.

“Danny wasn’t a big believer in our traditional medical community,” says his mother Marte Brightman. “He didn’t go to the doctor a lot. By the time he was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer, it was very well advanced and he pretty quickly came to the decision he was not going to treat it and was going to let it take its natural course.”

Marte wasn’t sure what that course would be. Care options were complicated, since Danny was uncomfortable with a hospital setting. EveryStep’s Metro Hospice team director Laura Smith assured Marte that the team would be there for Danny. “Laura was a huge advocate and got Danny to trust her pretty early on,” says Marte. “We were able to very frank with her and [EveryStep Chief Medical Officer] Dr. Tom Mouser. It was a huge relief to us that they just did what they could to help.”

Laura, who holds an MSN in Nursing, would visit Danny once a week at his mother’s home and while there, would visit with Marte and Danny’s father, John about hospice and the process Danny was going through. “She helped us tremendously,” says Marte.

Marte chuckles when she talks about the trip to Chicago to see the Cubs and Giants play that Danny took as a final wish. Danny wasn’t there to see the Cubs.  He’d grown up a Cubs fan, but according to Marte, he got tired of having his favorite team lose so many games. “At that time, the Giants were very successful and he decided that would be his favorite team.” Danny was not disappointed with his trip to Wrigley; the Giants swept the Cubs.

The game brought Danny some happiness, along with the “extras” EveryStep provided. “EveryStep gave him a gift certificate to use at Wrigley. He was able to treat the people he was with to a beer, and had some money of his own to spend. I know that meant a great deal to him." When Danny got home, the jersey of Hunter Pence, his favorite player, arrived in the mail.

Danny received in-home hospice care until he was transferred to Bright Kavanagh Center in east Des Moines. “He didn’t trust the medical community and I don’t know that he actually understood what a hospice facility does. I think he had in his mind it was just like a hospital – very clinical,” says Marte. “When he finally had to go to the hospice house, it was a peaceful place and it was easier for him to let go than perhaps, if he had stayed at home.” Danny passed away October 1, 2021, hours after arriving at EveryStep’s Bright Kavanagh Center. He would have been 40 years old in December.

EveryStep Hospice helps those living with a serious illness make the best out of every day. Most hospice care is provided through in-home hospice services; however, when a patient needs around-the-clock hospice care to manage their pain and symptoms, our hospice houses are available. Our hospice facilities provide a home-like atmosphere with private bedrooms, living rooms, family kitchens, children's play areas, and other family amenities. Patients and families can also enjoy being outdoors where they are surrounded by nature and scenic gardens. Respite care, a period of time up to five days in which the primary caregiver is relieved of caregiving, is also available.

If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946. Or, complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at https://www.everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.