In Steve's words, "what a long, strange road it's been."
Many of you know that Steve has been fighting leukemia/lymphoma on and off for the past 15 years. The treatment has consisted of three rounds of chemo, two bone marrow/stem cell transplants, and immunotherapy (for those of you counting, that's 7 times being treated for the cancer). Many of you also know that he and Renee moved out to Colorado in January of this year. At that point, his treatment consisted of an immunotherapy drug that he took daily to keep any cancer at bay.
Beginning in late July, Steve started experiencing intense lower back pain on and off until it forced him to go to the emergency room because the pain was so intense. It was discovered at that point that the pain was from a lymphoma tumor that was pressing on his spine. Initially, the doctors believed that radiation would reduce the tumor and take care of the pain, but the pain wasn't getting better, even with 4 (out of 5) radiation treatments. The Friday before Labor Day weekend the pain was so intense that he was back in the ER, and not long after that Steve started experiencing weakness and numbness in his legs. This raised a red flag by the hematologist on call, who immediately rushed out of the room saying that they needed a neurosurgeon - stat.
Here's what happened next (in Steve's word's): A neurosurgeon-new to me-came in and said they needed an immediate MRI to see why it was getting so much worse so fast. He said that we probably needed to do immediate surgery to relieve the tumor pressure or I could lose some or all ability of using my legs. I FREAKED....in a matter of minutes I had to go into a true life decision......
Long story short, we huddled and did the surgery, which included removing some bone—with me wondering “am I ever going to walk again!”
The answer to that question, thankfully, is YES! As of today he is 6 days post-surgery, and currently in rehab as Steve works to regain his strength and mobility (see journal entries for current progress and video updates). The long and short of it is that Steve is walking again and will continue to do so more fluidly, but we were told that more athletic activities like running, playing tennis, and climbing mountains is (most likely) out of reach. This is the result of some nerve damage to the spine, caused by the tumor when it was pressing on the spine.
As for the cancer, the doctors here in Colorado Springs will be referring him to lymphoma transplant specialists in Denver for further treatment. Because this constitutes a recurrence of the lymphoma, a systemic blood cancer, it will need to be treated accordingly. More details to come on the plan here, as well as more test results.
For those of you who have known Steve over this period - there are no secrets here. Feel free to share this with anyone. He's happy, hopeful, looking forward to more fun and adventures in life and is currently accepting prayers, good wishes, text messages, visits, and bourbon.
He's looking forward to seeing everyone and talking in person so we can all have more laughs and loves together.