Scott Stankavage went through his Christmas card address list not long ago in preparing a fund-raising outreach he’s involved with and was shocked to count that 11 guys had passed away in three years—a handful of them fellow Tar Heel Lettermen.
“Look around us—Quincy Monk, Bob Hukill, Mike Voight, all of them gone,” he says. “We’re at that age. I’m seeing obituaries every week of some of the guys who were the big Rams Club guys when I played. We’re dealing with it.”
Stankavage, a Tar Heel quarterback and Letterman from 1981-83, has a razor-sharp perspective on the issue of mortality. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia on July 17, 2013, told his case was grave and since has taken a cutting-edge drug called Ibutrinib that has thwarted the disease into remission.
“I count every day,” he says. “I get the most out of every one. Some days, all I can do is help get the kids washed and in bed. That’s a full day. On the best of days, I can play in the UNC Lettermen’s golf tournament. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. We’re all terminal.
“The drug I’m taking works on 50 percent of the people. It’s working for me. It’s been working for some for two years. I’m coming up on a year and a half. I’ll be on it until it stops working. Then we’ll come up with another plan.”
Stankavage has written a book entitled The QB Mentor in which he tells of reconnecting with a former teammate from his NFL and Denver Broncos days of the mid-1980s, Steve Wilson, and Wilson’s influence on him and his son. Shawn Stankavage was a standout high school quarterback at Cardinal Gibbons High in Raleigh who now is a red-shirt sophomore at Vanderbilt.
The book chronicles Shawn’s evolution, his recruiting, his two knee injuries and his dream of carving a niche on the starting 11 of a Division I football program. It takes the reader into the meeting room and onto the practice and game-day fields to cull the wisdom from Wilson on the nuances of playing quarterback. It’s also a revealing look into Scott’s faith, his illness and his resolve to turn a serious medical reality into something that others can draw strength and encouragement from.
“The book is meant to inspire and encourage by sharing that journey of mortality, of fatherhood, of dreams, of adversity and challenge for my son and me and my family,” Stankavage says. “What a bunch of people who’ve read the book have said, ‘If you like football, you’ll like QB Mentor. If you enjoy fathering or being fathered, then you’ll really like it. And if you’ve ever been in the presence of or trained by master trainer, then QB Mentor will be one of your favorite books.’”
Stankavage is raising money for the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society that will benefit blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors. To make a donation, follow this link.
The book is available in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com.
“I hope I can provide some encouragement to anyone who’s going through ‘life,’” he says. “I wrote a blog post a week ago, ‘What’s your problem?’ Everyone has a problem. You can go up to 10 people and interview them, and after five you’re probably going home grateful you don’t have their problems.
“It if encourages and inspires, then it’s done its job.”