He smiles broadly and cracks jokes. He refers to his wife, Ethel, as "my bright sunshine." He tells his story without any hint of pretense, despite his celebrity for 24 years as a climatologist and weather forecaster with KTVX-Ch. 4.
Clayton Brough has faced a number of storms in his time, but he is now fighting for his life in a resolute battle with cancer.
Brough, who is nothing if not genuine, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in early May. Shortly after the diagnosis, he underwent surgery to remove a tumor the size of a tennis ball, which was wrapped around his small intestine. Now he is undergoing chemotherapy treatments that leave him with hiccups, among other things but which also leave him supremely hopeful and optimistic.
After all, he felt his first pain in the back and abdomen in early April so it was caught early. "If I had waited two more weeks, the whole scenario would have been very different," Brough said.
He added that this is the same form of cancer that afflicted Dick Nourse over at KSL-Ch. 5 some 20 years ago, from which Nourse fully recovered, and that medical science has dramatically increased the ability to fight it.
"The chances of my recovery are very, very high," Brough said during a far-ranging interview in his West Valley home. "I could have 20 more years. They tell me that if you have to get cancer, this is the kind to get, because it's treatable."
He spoke eloquently about his chances for recovery and the things that matter most to him and was effusive in praise of his internist, Dr. Kevin Stiggy; his surgeon, Dr. Clark Rasmussen; and his oncologist, Dr. William Nibley. He believes that the Utah Cancer Specialists clinic is equal in quality to the better known Huntsman Cancer Center.
Besides his role as a TV weather forecaster, Brough is also a devoted and happy teacher of ninth-graders initially at Springville Junior High and then Eisenhower Junior High in Taylorsville. He has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in geography from Brigham Young University, but he also teaches journalism and science. "I really love junior high kids. If you treat them with respect and love, you will rarely have a problem with discipline."
In fact, Brough has engaged in some unusual projects with his students, resulting in three Guinness World Records that he shares with them the world's largest slide rule, the world's largest loaf of bread and the world's longest paper clip. "Young people have dreams. I tell them to dream big, work hard and they'll be successful.
"When we did the paper-clip project, a huge semi drove up to the school with pallets containing 2 million paper clips. The students had ordered them without telling us."
Brough started teaching at Springville Junior High School in 1975. Three years later, he took a position as director of research at Mark Eubank's WeatherBank Inc. because he loves weather. At the time, Eubank worked for KUTV-Ch. 2 (he is now at KSL), and Brough had no idea it would lead to his appearing in front of a Ch. 2 camera as well.
But Brough seriously missed his students, and Ethel says she could see "the light going out in his eyes." So in 1980, he decided to return to teaching but the same time, Ch. 4 offered him its main weather position. He accepted, but his longing for the classroom remained.
In 1984, Brough began commuting to Springville to teach while continuing on TV. In 1986, he negotiated with Ch. 4 to trade spots with Rebecca Reheis, who was doing weekend weather at the time. This allowed him to be primarily a teacher and secondarily a weather forecaster.
In 1986, Brough landed a teaching position at Eisenhower Junior High and has been happy there ever since. He's even added to his load by teaching geography to adults at BYU's Salt Lake Center and dabbling in family history research. (He has also written scientific articles and LDS doctrinal books.)
And, of course, he continues to do weekend weather forecasts at Ch. 4. "When you're standing in front of a camera," Brough said, "it's a one-way conversation. You're spouting off information. You're looking at a lens, but you get no feedback until you get off the set and then someone makes a phone call or sends an e-mail. The response is both delayed and minimal. You don't know if you're getting your point across.
"But with teaching, it's just the opposite. When you appear in front of human beings, the response you get is immediate, especially with young people. You know very quickly if you are reaching them. These are kids with high energy, and you can direct it. I like to make a difference even if it is just with one person."
Brough feels grateful to Ch. 4 executives, who recently renewed his TV contract early for four more years because they "wanted the contract to be a non-stresser."
He recently shaved his head to better cope with chemotherapy, but his bosses assured him they didn't care if he has hair.
Ethel, who suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic-fatigue syndrome, has been unusually strong in recent weeks as she cheers on her husband. And Brough's four children and seven grandchildren are happy that they get to spend more time with this "Type A personality."One thing Ethel says she is skeptical about, however, is the doctors' prediction that his treatment will bring irritability: "He has such a good sense of humor. He keeps us all going. He's a delight to all of us."