A Tribute to Brett Reed

Brett Reed

Brett Reed was a genuine and loyal husband, friend, and co-worker.

Brett graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Actuarial Science. He worked as a Pension Consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers before joining Northwestern Mutual in 2002. At NM, he obtained his CLU and CHfC designations and was recently promoted to the position of Assistant Director - Estate Market. Brett possessed a quick mind, a gift for numbers, an unmatched sense of humor and wit, and an even-keeled disposition.

Brett married his best friend, Beth, on November 17, 2001. They were a perfect match from the start. After beginning their married life in Chicago, Illinois, Brett and Beth settled down in Oak Creek, Wisconsin where they both began working for Northwestern Mutual. The couple loved to travel and took many trips including several trips to New York City, two European cruises, and vacations to Disney World, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, St. Lucia, Aruba, and Hawaii. In 2006, Brett and Beth adopted a Goldendoodle named Mabel to complete their family.

Brett is probably best known for his fanatical love of Nebraska Cornhuskers football. His weekend plans (even his wedding ceremony) always revolved around the Huskers game. Many times he had to drive out to the Chicago suburbs to find a Husker viewing spot. Brett made the trek back to Lincoln to attend games there with his cousin Jeff every opportunity he had.

Brett was also passionate about weightlifting and physical fitness. He began lifting when he was growing up in Nebraska and rarely missed a day. This passion continued after he and Beth got married, where they had a workout regimen that involved daily trips to the gym. This left him in what we thought was the best shape of his life.

The Sarcoma Journey

Brett, Beth and MabelIn the spring of 2012, Brett began to experience dizziness. He ended up getting glasses for the first time in his life, but the symptoms persisted. He was later diagnosed with vertigo, allergies, and possible sinus infections, but none of the treatments alleviated the symptoms. Brett’s eye became visibly swollen. In addition, Brett was having considerable back pain which he assumed was from the intense workouts over the past 20 years.

In late July, after a CT scan and biopsy, Brett was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. In addition to a tumor growing in and around his orbit, Brett had tumors in almost every bone in his back and in his pelvis. These tumors would ultimately “eat through the bone” leaving holes and causing fractures leading to significant debilitating pain. This once active and physically fit man was bed-ridden and suffering.

Brett had an outstanding attitude and fought this cancer with fierce determination.He was hospitalized immediately and received his first treatment of chemotherapy. Within just a couple of weeks, his calcium level was dangerously high to points unseen before at the local hospital. This required daily kidney dialysis. Once his calcium level was under better control, Brett received two additional rounds of chemotherapy.

During this time, Brett’s pain was intolerable. At first, he used only minimal pain medicine, but the pain became more excruciating every day. He went through many procedures to help alleviate the pain like cortisone shots, cryoablasion and radiation therapy. Unfortunately, these procedures were quite painful themselves and ultimately did little to relieve his pain.

Unfortunately, Brett's cancer was too aggressive, and the chemotherapy was deemed ineffective. Pain management was the only remaining option.

Brett spent a vast majority of the last 31/2 months of life in St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Zilber Family Hospice in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.  His wonderfully strong and courageous wife Beth was by his side every single day until his death on Monday, November 19, 2012, when his pain and suffering came to an end.

Donate in Brett's Memory

Donate Now

To donate online in Brett's memory: During the donation process, click on the blue "dedicate this donation" link and type Brett's name before clicking on the large blue "proceed" button.

Brett fought this dreadful disease with every ounce of strength he had. With your help, we can continue the fight for him.

Sarcomas represent just 1% of all adult cancers. The disease that Brett had, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, is even more rare. It usually affects children and makes up just a small percentage of sarcoma cases. Unfortunately, there is little research funding available to develop better treatments for this rare disease.

Please be aware that 97-98% of your donations in memory of Brett will be used for rhabdomyosarcoma research. There is no doubt that Brett would want us to fight this rare and aggressive type of cancer so that other exceptional people will get to live full lives that are not shortened by this devastating disease.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation in Brett's memory, please consider donating by check, as checks incur no processing fees. There is a 4.9% fee for credit card processing when using the "donate now" button above.

Sign Brett's Family's Guestbook

Signatures in the Guestbook will appear here. Please share your thoughts!