He loves teaching kids. He loves forecasting the weather. But most of all, he loves life. And the past year he wasn't sure he'd wake to see another day.
ABC 4 Climatologist Clayton Brough knows that, like the weather, life can change on a dime. In the spring of 2004, dark clouds gathered over Brough when he experienced weakness and abdominal pain. "I knew that something was just not right," says Brough. "My doctor had me get a CT scan and 24 hours later he was telling me I had a large tumor and he'd already set up my surgery."
Brough was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and after the surgery began chemotherapy treatments that often left him weak. He also lost his hair - which can be tough for someone who is in front of a TV camera.
"I was worried about what the station would do because my contract was up for renewal," Brough recalls. "But Jon Fischer (director of news) came to me and said, 'We need you not to worry about this, so we've renewed your contract for four more years,' It was a neat gift. The station really stepped in. They let me go on and the anchors were watching, ready to jump in if I needed help with my 'chemo brain.' Everyone said, 'We don't care about your hair, we care about you.'" Climatologists from other stations even wrote notes of support.
Not only the station rallied around Brough, but his family and friends too. Brough was teaching at a junior high school and his son stepped in as a substitute to finish out the year. "I couldn't ask for a better substitute," says Brough. "My son knows how important the students are to me and he knew my method of teaching."
Mostly he attributes his recovery to his "sweetheart" Ethel and the Lord. "I'm just thankful it wasn't my time yet."
With the cancer in remission, Brough has enthusiastically jumped back into life. Having received bachelor's and master's degrees in geography, Brough's first love is teaching. "At the time I was studying, climatology was part of the geography department," Brough explained. "I was involved with geographic research and Mark Eubank asked me to join the Weather Bank as director of research. I did that for two years. Then I left the Weather Bank for TV Broadcasting on Channel 4. But I soon realized I was missing something - teaching. So I started doing weather on the weekends and as a fill in, teaching school full time."
It seems most people would shudder at the prospect of facing junior high-age children, but Brough loves it. "They are a wonderful group of young people with lots of energy," laughs Brough. "You just have to know how to channel it. If you show respect to them it will come back around. I don't believe in belittling or intimidation. We laugh and I encourage them to put their dreams into action."
Brough believes a teacher is most effective when the students know he loves what he is doing and not just doing it to get a paycheck. "If ever I wake up and don't have the desire to teach I'll quit," Brough says. " I hope I have the energy to continue for another 10 years."
Students in Brough's classes don't just have their noses in a book. He allows them to be creative. "Several of my students have set Guinness World Records. They built the world's longest slide rule and made the largest pan loaf of bread," says Brough. "We mostly do it after school so it doesn't take away from academics. But it is a wonderful adventure and keeps them out of trouble. If they can use their energy to be creative, why not?"
Most of the activities are organized by the students. An example was an idea to make the longest string of paper clips. "It was unbelievable," Brough says. "The kids got a company to donate 7,000 paper clips and I just sat back and directed traffic." The project produced 22-miles of paper clips. There is now a Web site for schools to find out about possible records and projects (www.worldrecordsforschool.org).
Although his health has improved, Brough's life has changed again. His 29-year-old son has been diagnosed with cancer. "It is not usually genetic," says Brough. "Statistically it is a fluke. But if a third person in my family gets it, I'll tear my house down. We've had it with cancer."
Doctors believe Brough's son's cancer started about the same time as his, but no one knew. His son is the father of three young children. "As a parent it is hard to watch," Brough says. "I'd rather take chemo again than for him to go through it. His family and the community has really pitched in to help though. Handling three children with the unknown is unnerving. I'm really proud of them. I know he's going to lick it."
Brough's advice to those living with cancer is to stay active. "Don't just sit and think about the condition," he says. "Try to laugh and look at the good things you have. Attitude is extremely important. The mind can play games of looking forward wondering 'what if.' Stay busy."
And he's taking his own advice. In addition to the weekend forecasting and full-time teaching, Brough and his wife try to find time researching their family history and genealogy. Brough is the president of the Richard Brough Family Organization consisting of people whose ancestors came from England to Utah. Recently the group had a reunion in Kaysville. "There are lots of Broughs in Utah and this is the largest ancestral organization," says Brough.
Most of all, Brough looks forward. He cherishes each day despite stubborn cowlicks in his now-returning hair. "It grows at different speeds and changes color, but at least it's there," quips Brough. "I only had one viewer comment on my lack of hair. He e-mailed me and asked, 'Did you lose a bet to shave your hair or something - it looks silly.' I replied with an explanation of my cancer. He was very sorry."
Through all the ups and downs, Brough seems to be up most of the time. His outlook on life reflects his career, "May you continue to enjoy more sunny days than cloudy ones."