You are 21. Senior Public Relations major with a minor in Advertising. This is your year. This is the time to soak it all in and prepare to take your first steps out into the real world. Sound scary? Try all of this on top of being a cancer survivor.
Brett Fahs of Southampton is just this. A transfer student originally from West Chester University, Fahs decided to switch schools when he declared his major. Aware of Rowans superior PR program, he made the move, leaving behind his friends and band mates.
Fahs originally decided to go into PR after seeing the movie “Thank You for Smoking”.
“I want to be the guy that creates one of the memorable ads like Budweiser or Geico,” said Fahs.
Convinced that being normal is boring, Fahs was attracted to the constant change that is the advertising field. He has traveled to Venice, Greece, France and London, all of which he loved for specific reasons, including history, nightlife, scenery and architecture.
Like most young adults his age, Fahs enjoys random road trips with friends, writing poetry and song lyrics and working out. He can often be found riding his bike around campus, or around local Glassboro, consciously getting lost and trying to find adventure wherever he wanders.
Unlike most young adults his age, Fahs is a cancer survivor. He underwent a 15 hour brain surgery to remove a tumor on April 1, 1998. He then was put through three months of chemotherapy, as well as radiation through the entire summer of that year.
Although he admits to short term memory loss and fatigue, it is a whole lot better than the predicted autism and paralysis that was expected after surgery.
“You have to laugh at everything. Life sucks, you can’t deny that. But why get worked up when, in the big picture, it’s insignificant,” said Fahs.
Fahs got interested in comedy after his surgery. He learned how to write a punch line at a local comedy club. He thought he could make light of his situation and help others like him by bringing his act to cancer and respiratory camps.
One admiring child came up to him after his act, explaining how he died on the operating table and was brought back to life. “I beat Jesus,” he said. As Fahs told me the story, he smiled and looked away.
He continues to visit these camps about once a month, as well as participating in Relay for Life here at Rowan.
Fahs wasn’t always an optimistic person however. One of his most vivid memories was when he was a child, playing kickball at school. He wore a baseball hat then. It never left his head. Someone kicked the ball, which hit his hat and sent it flying. Embarrassed, he immediately retrieved it and put it back on.
“Whenever people say ‘God bless you’ I just ask, if He loved me, why’d He let this happen,” said Fahs.
His Jewish mother and Lutheran father didn’t really establish much religion in his life. He admitted that it never did much for him anyway.
“It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re not hurting those around you,” added Fahs.
Fahs has tremendous respect for the doctors that have helped save his life. He considers them family. He also is extremely grateful for his parents, for keeping everything together and being there for him. His top hero, however, is Tom Waits.
“He’s an absolute God,” said Fahs.
As for today, Fahs spends his days studying at Rowan, doing work for the advertising club, and being historian on the executive board of PRSSA. He has a core group of friends that he enjoys spending most of his time with as well.
Fahs has a 19-year-old brother at Virginia Tech for engineering, a 14-year-old sister who wants to be a professional singer, and a beagle Lola, yes, like the song.
Admitting he has a love/hate relationship with his life and his situation, he likes the fact that he isn’t normal.
“Normal is boring,” said Fahs.
Chocolate milkshakes and cherry water ice are just two of the simple pleasures that Fahs enjoys.
“You are your own movie. It’s really not that bad,” said Fahs, sitting at his kitchen table drinking a Coke, and I couldn’t agree more.