Fall 2017 Edition
Danny Clinkscale doesn’t mind characterizing himself as a whimsical person. It was his whim, after all, that led him to write his first book, “Leaving Cancer for the Circus: an American Odyssey Inspired by Love and Recovery,” which centers on his battle with cancer, a meandering road trip through the middle of the United States, and his experience in broadcasting two consecutive World Series in 2014 and 2015.
When Clinkscale, a sports broadcaster at Kansas City’s Sports Radio 810 WHB-AM, left for the 10-day trip, he told only three people: his wife, in a note where he professed his love for her and trusted she’d be OK with the trip, and two of his bosses. Just as everyone else, he also had no idea where he was going beyond the first night, which he spent in Nebraska.
“I had no responsibilities each day; I had no plan, and that was a big part of it,” Clinkscale said. “I highly recommend the freedom of waking up in the morning with absolutely no responsibilities for that day.”
The result was a trip full of wander, mostly through the Black Hills in South Dakota, but also touching Wyoming and Montana, with plenty of time for self-realization and reflection while on the roads. He took no interstates, trying to stay off the beaten path and visit only small towns. Each day he woke up, usually in a cheap motel, rode his bike for an hour or so, then sat down at the computer and chose where he would drive that day.
His requirements for his next destination were simple: four to six hours of driving, at least one motel in the town, and hopefully, a little something to do.
The book is a journey in itself, ranging from Clinkscale’s experience graduating from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 1983 at age 26, stories from his decades of broadcasting, his diagnosis of his cancer and working through the treatment, and about his relationship and his deep love for his wife.
“It’s a diary of each day of the 10-day journey to nowhere really; it was all little towns and all out-of-the-way places,” Clinkscale said. “The trip is maybe half the book, and the other half is reminiscing and a lot of broadcasting stories.”
The book starts as Clinkscale scratched his face and discovered a lump during the 2014 World Series, which the Kansas City Royals eventually lost. The lump was cancerous, requiring surgical removal and weeks of radiation treatment. The cancer and radiation took some energy and almost all of Clinkscale’s sense of taste, but he continued to work, to the surprise of his co-workers, who suggested he should stay home and recover.
Clinkscale refused, spatting back: “Well, I can work, it’s not affecting my work, so why would I want to take time off when I feel like crap and I can’t eat?”
He dropped some 25 pounds through recovery, using Core Power shakes and occasionally extra spicy meals from his wife to try to keep his weight up. But Clinkscale still exercised every day through the treatment, and he surely wasn’t going to miss out on a chance to work and get his mind off the cancer.
“It was really kind of an inspirational thing, too, because when I was at work I made a little mock-up of a map of the area where I thought I wanted to drive, and I used to literally play out the trip in my work space every day,” Clinkscale said. “It was just kind of a goal.”
What started as a goal eventually served as an awakening of sorts for Clinkscale, who has always called himself a "happy cynic."
“I’ve always been a person who lives day to day and enjoys each day and stops and smells the roses, per se," Clinkscale said. "This just increased that ... I'm more accepting of people's flaws now, and I'm not as judgmental of people."
A portion of the proceeds from every book purchased will be donated to Coaches vs. Cancer.
–– Christian Hardy is a senior from Derby, Kansas, studying news and information.