LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — A Lee’s Summit police officer has passed away after a battle with cancer. 44-year-old Shawn Rath has been fighting the disease since he was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2015. Saturday morning, the Lee’s Summit Police Department wrote that Rath had died.
FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien met with Rath and his family just over a month ago. He said he first noticed a small bump on his ear, which was discovered to be melanoma. He was declared cancer free after surgery to remove the melanoma, but after 6 months, the cancer came back, invading Rath’s central nervous system, brain and spine.
The Lee’s Summit police officer spent the majority of his cancer battle working while getting treatments, until December, when the pain became too much and he had to step away from work. The transition from fighting crime to fighting cancer full-time was difficult transition for the 44-year-old who spent his entire career in law enforcement.
“Always taking care of somebody else. They need help, I want to be there,” Rath told FOX 4 in July. “To receive the help in our home for my son, for my wife, for myself, it is very humbling and it is very hard.”
Rath said the community and his fellow officers have been a great support during his battle, but he said he was fighting mostly for his wife Kari and 8-year-old son Patrick.
Rath’s wife Kari said her husband’s cancer was caused by the sun. She hopes Rath’s story can be a warning for others to wear sunscreen and have annual body checks.
“He is the one that is fighting more than anybody else could fight,” Kari said. “A lot of it is that internal strength to keep going, because it is easy to give up.”
Rath's passing comes at a trying time for the Lee's Summit Police Department, which just last week saw the death of another officer, Thomas Orr III, in a shooting at popular Westport restaurant Californos. Orr, who was off duty at the time, is believed to be an innocent bystander in a dispute that broke out on the restaurant patio.