In January of 2007, at 49 years old I was diagnosed with a terminal form of leukemia and given three to five years to live. I was a partner in a consulting firm, single parent to a wonderful daughter in her junior year in high school. Life was going well until then.
The gravity of the situation took some time to fully grasp. What dominated my thoughts the first month was the impact this would have on my daughter and my family. After accepting what appeared to be the inevitable…I was mentally ready for a fight…however long or short that might be. Although I did make one rock solid decision; each day I woke up…I was going to truly live life to its fullest! My daughter and I talked and decided we would not let this consume us. We would laugh at it…leukemia would not get us down or control our lives.
Do not get me wrong, there were difficult times. My family and friends were there and supported me as much as I would allow. Right or wrong…I did not want to be a burden to others. I was single and my daughter went off to college; she was only an hour away so close enough to help when I was in a bad way. My mother helped a great deal, and at times was not happy that I faced a lot on my own.
Near the end of 2007, I was having a more difficult time with work and it was best that I left. So, I asked myself what I wanted to do with the last couple years? I decided I want to teach the construction management students what college didn’t teach me pertaining to the business. I applied to graduate school solely so I could teach. They were very happy to have a Grad Assistant with 30 years of project management experience. So I taught and attended Graduate School at Purdue.
In the spring of 2008, I was diagnosed with a second terminal form of leukemia and was told I would be lucky to get my Masters degree. Life was difficult. But, with help of family, and some wonderful friends, I carried on and got my Master’s Degree in December of 2010. As 2011 approached it looked as though the fight was coming to an end and preparations were being made.
In June of 2011 I was put on a clinical trial. The drug was said to cure one form and they wanted to see its effect on the other. Within six months I was feeling better and down to one form of leukemia in the spring of 2012. Almost six years to the day, I got “the call.” “There is no sign of leukemia!” I cried and said, “Shit. Now I have to pay off my student loans and medical bills.”
Having done nothing physical for six years, I went another two years doing the same, nothing. I gained 70 lbs and was in miserable shape. A year ago I decided I needed to do something. My wife loves to cycle and run…I decided to join her. Over the past year we have run several 5k’s and 10k’s together. I ran my first half marathon, the Joplin Memorial in May and then we did the Missouri Tough Mudder. In October we did the 2016 Outback in the Ozarks! Oh…I have lost 50 pounds and have more to go.
What have I learned…. Truly live life every day, it is a gift!
A note from the editor: As the team Captain of Bear Bait, Steve was one of the most organized and effective captains we have ever had. He and his team from Joplin brought a positive, and vibrant spirit to the Outback!