/Chief photographer battles cancer

Chief photographer battles cancer

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Abby Taylor

Online Content Editor

Troy University’s chief photographer, Kevin Glack­meyer, is currently battling stage four kidney cancer, but remains a proud Trojan supporter from the sidelines.

Glackmeyer has been doing photography since high school and has been working for Troy University since July 2005.

“I have been a photographer since I was a teenager, and I’ve worked at newspapers; I worked for the Associated Press wire service as a stringer (freelance photographer) for 30 years,” Glackmeyer said. “Covered Talladega races every year, twice a year for almost 30 years.

“Covered many Bridge Crossing Jubilees in Selma. I probably did that for close to 30 years. I like to say that I’ve walked across the Selma Pettus Bridge more times backward (taking photographs of marchers) than many people have ever walked it forward.”

Glackmeyer said he attended Sunday school with his wife in 2005, and there was a prayer list. There, people prayed for him to find a job, and according to Kevin Glackmeyer, a man next to him told him about working for Troy.

In February, Glackmeyer was diagnosed with stage three kidney cancer, and now he is being treated with radiation and the drug OPDIVO, according to his wife, Ashley Glackmeyer.

“He (Kevin Glackmeyer) had surgery done, and then after that from April up until about May 22 was when we had found out that it had actually metastasized to his bones,” Ashley Glackmeyer said. “So now it is considered stage four, and in addition to being metastasized to his bones, it has also spread to his liver and his lungs.”

According to cancer.gov, “In metastasis, cancer cells break away from where they first formed (primary cancer), travel through the blood or lymph system, and form new tumors (metastatic tumors) in other parts of the body.”

Kevin Glackmeyer’s cancer has progressed to stage four, meaning “the cancer has spread from where it started to another body organ,” according to cancerresearchuk.org.

Faculty, staff and students have been supporting him since he was first diagnosed with cancer in February.

“Not only is he a great photographer, but he’s (also) a great person,” said Jeff Spurlock, director of the Hall School of Journalism and Communication.

Kevin Glackmeyer is most known on campus for capturing headshots, graduations and Troy events.

“He’s done various different things from athletics to graduations to Board of Trustees meetings to just all kinds of different events,” Ashley Glackmeyer said.

Kevin Glackmeyer worked with governors, such as Bob Riley, before beginning his career with Troy.

“He came to Troy from Gov. Bob Riley’s staff; he was Gov. Riley’s photographer,” Clif Lusk, coordinator for university relations, said. “He came highly recommended.”

Glackmeyer took photographs of Alabama residents with governors, which helped his photography career at Troy.

“My job (working with governors) was to make a memory for a lot of citizens of Alabama,” Kevin Glackmeyer said.

Ashley Glackmeyer explained how Kevin Glackmeyer is doing now and his treatment.

“He has good days and bad days,” she said. “They started him on a new type of treatment called OPDIVO, because he was on chemo from June to August, but unfortunately that medicine did not work, so they started him on immunotherapy, which is OPDIVO.”

Kevin Glackmeyer’s work inspired Lusk, who is now working, along with others, as a university photographer while Kevin Glackmeyer is sick.

“Kevin was able to come into the university and really brought us into the digital age,” Lusk said. “We were running film literally up until Kevin came.”

Faculty, staff and students expressed respect for Glackmeyer’s work.

“He did one of the first big billboards, that one on (U.S.) 231 that he did, that was one of his biggest projects,” Ashley Glackmeyer said. “He did a really cute Christmas card that was a big hit with the chancellor’s wife (Janice Hawkins).”

Kevin Glackmeyer brought his knowledge of technology to Troy.

“Kevin really ushered in the digital age of photography,” Lusk said. “That really opened a new dimension of not only the photography that we did, but the art that we had, the ability to tell the story of the university.”

One of Kevin Glackmeyer’s talents, according to Lusk, is capturing the person behind the photograph.

“Really, what Kevin took were portraits that portrayed the people behind the university,” Lusk said. “What he did was — even in taking head and shoulder shots — he was able to capture the personality and the spirit that makes up Troy.”

Lusk said that faculty and staff at Troy can offer sick leave days for Kevin Glackmeyer while he goes through treatment.

“For faculty and staff, of course, they can donate sick leave time; those donations are being accepted,” Lusk said. “There’s a form — you go online — there’s a human resources form there that you (faculty and staff) fill out.”

Ashley Glackmeyer said that many faculty members, including faculty in the university relations department, have given up sick leave time, including Lusk and the chancellor.

“Everybody who has donated (sick leave time) so far have given from their heart,” Lusk said.

“If you need sick leave, then it can be donated to you by another state employee,” Kevin Glackmeyer said. “All of these years, I have been donating sick-leave left and right to folks.”

He said that Troy has helped him in this process, and that, although things have been hard, he has felt loved.

A GoFundMe page has been created at https://www.gofundme.com/photogkevin.

“For me, it’s turned out that after my surgery, things were going reasonably well, and then things started going downhill, and Troy was there for me to help me and my family,” he said.

He was able to go to the Troy versus Akron football game on Sept. 23 and said that he was happy to see people he hadn’t seen since February.

“I have never been so overwhelmed by the love and the caring that I’ve been shown by Troy University,” he said.

The battle that Kevin Glackmeyer is facing with cancer will not stop his love for photography and Troy.

“Hopefully, I’ll get past it all and get back to the office doing the only thing I know how to do, and that is take pictures of people,” he said.