Homer police officer overwhelmed by community support
Ed Stading has worked in law enforcement for the state of Alaska for nearly 20 years. He started working on the North Slope for his first seven years before landing in Homer in 2005.
"I came off a night shift feeling a little weak," Stading said. "It was the middle of 2017, and I didn't think anything of it. That went on for a nine-month time frame."
Then while out to lunch with a good friend, a retired police officer, Ed figured out he had kidney stones. On February 14, Ed went to his clinic for CT scan to check on his kidney stones.
"One of my best friends operated the CT scan," Stading said. "'Good news and bad news. Kidney stones are the least of your worries, you have cancer.'"
Stading didn't know it at the time but he had stage-four kidney cancer that had already metastasized into his lungs.
"That's one of the reasons I felt tired and a little out of shape," Stading said. "So, we moved on that very quickly."
Ed's doctor in Anchorage made a strong push for Ed to get treatment in Seattle. Since March, Ed has stayed at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance House near Lake Union in downtown Seattle. Ed also is getting treatment at SCCA with doctor Scott Tykodi.
"It's one of the best institutes for cancer, and they are recognized nationally," Stading said. "Clients come from around the world to get these services because they are so good."
Stading has always been one to hold his head down and plow forward.
"I didn't realize I affected so many people and the people in Homer," Stading said. "The people in Homer have been absolutely phenomenal."
The biggest compliment Stading says he received was from a younger man who Stading had a few encounters with as a law enforcement officer.
"This young man has turned a corner and is doing well," Stading said. "He went on Facebook and posted that he and I had a lot of interactions and said, 'Officer Stading is a good cop.' That's the kind of people we have in Homer. Everybody knows Homer is a little weird, very diverse. There is no question about that. Just really good people."
Those people have banded together to help the Stading family with meals and transportation for Ed's wife and kids to fly and visit Ed in Seattle throughout the ordeal. Running clubs, card-writing clubs through Ed's church, Ed's pastor and close friends, along with Robanne's FaceBook group of officer wives in the Lower 48 have all banded together to help the family, each week offering a new theme to help cheer up Ed and his family.
"One of the wives lives in New York and she said I want to do something for you," Robanne said. "I known her for over a decade and she said she wanted to run this campaign for us. Every Wednesday, she said they would have a different theme and get everyone in your circle to use the hashtag #stadingstrong so when you need reminders to know how loved you are or support or happiness, just search for the hashtag and it'll be there."
Another friend from Kansas also jumped on board working behind the scenes.
"Church calls up and says, 'We are going to bring you meals,'" Robanne said. "Okay, that sounds good. They didn't stop. I thought it may just last in the beginning but it's still happening. People asking for any ways to help, offering guest houses, fixing things around our house while Ed's gone. People installed a dishwasher for me."
Ed was also working on a playhouse for his kids but had a hard time finishing it off while working nights. Two young men and their dad came over to Ed's house and finished for him.
"A young man and good friend named Ian came over and trimmed some trees," Ed said. "He'll dog watch. Whatever we need he's there, no questions asked. To still see these things happened long after I was diagnosed, I'm amazed."
The pastor at Glacierview Baptist Church, Rick Wise, gives a weekly update on Ed in church. The Homer Police Department stood in Ed's place for his daughter's eighth-grade graduation. Ed was also planning on retiring at the end of the year and feared with lost time, he would have to work longer than he intended. His department said not to worry about the lost time and to focus on his family and fighting the cancer.
"When the doctors told me my cancer was terminal and I had two weeks to live, I said okay," Ed said. "Whatever we do, let's be super aggressive with it. If the cancer is being aggressive we should be aggressive. I don't care if my hair falls out, let's attack it."
Ed's body has responded well to the treatment. It has reduced his cancer 30 to 40 percent, and the latest tests have shown no more spreading and no more growing of tumors. Ed is now able to walk and breath at times without assistance and without the aid of oxygen. Another set of tests this week may determine if Ed is able to come back home to Homer by the end of the month.
"Our goal is to get him back to Homer," Robanne said. "We have a lot of living left to do. I've been a cop's wife for 19 years, so there has always been the slight feeling of something could happen. It probably won't but it could. So, when we hear this news, it's another could happen. It's a different foe but a very real one."
Ed says he gets countless cards, messages, phone calls and pep talks from former and current police offers, friends and family members.
"I am completely humbled," Ed said. "There are so many good people."
John Thompson contributed to this report.
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