Steve’s Story

Site created on April 11, 2013

Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We've created it to keep friends and family updated. We appreciate your support, prayers and words of hope and encouragement. PLEASE PROCEED TO THE JOURNAL TAB or scroll down to follow along with updates on this journey.

Steve has Stage IV Lung Cancer. 

The story begins. . .Steve has Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that allows the body to attack its own joints and organs.

In Dec., 2012 we suspected Lymphoma because of Steve's chronic fatigue, weight loss and use of immune suppressing drugs.

January 2013, he underwent a lymph node biopsy (thoracotomy, not arthroscopically) confirmed no Lymphoma.

Yet, major fatigue persisted.

By March 2013, he was sleeping 20 hours a day and confused. Tuesday, 3/19 white blood cell count at 37,000.

At DMC Huron Valley Hosp. ER, X-Rays showed right lung infected AND blood infection.

3/22/13 bronchoscopy to flush right lung; discovered blockage in airway. Biopsy confirmed Non-Small Cell Carcinoma = cancer.

Suggested treatment: surgically remove the lower 2/3 of his lung. He would not have survived the surgery.

Steve was put on vent because of mucous blocking his airway. He is VERY WEAK from the infection Actinomycosis; we postponed surgery.

4/4/13 we took him to Henry Ford Hospital, who concluded the same. Eventually was able to come off the ventilator and breathe on his own.

4/10/13 Steve must be stronger to survive surgery. He came home after several weeks at a specialty hospital to help him to walk again.

After visiting Oncologist, diagnosis: Stage 4 Lung Cancer . . incurable. We took a Bucket List trip to Disney World in July with all 4 grand-kids and Steve's daughters.

After returning, Steve started chemo & radiation treatments. Only palliative at first. He tolerated treatments pretty well and the cancer responded - shrinking. 

MARCH 2014. . . 

Steve has gone through several courses of chemo and radiation treatments since August 2013.

As of March, 2014, he is doing really well!

PRAISE GOD. . . . we believe he beat this!

4 years cancer free. . . then. . . 

January, 2018 . . . the cancer has returned.



Newest Update

Journal entry by Meg Howard

 

Steve’s Journey Ends – Steve passed       L

Tuesday, May 22, 2018   ~ 10:45pm.    

I hadn’t posted the last update yet . . . I have been spending as much time as possible with Steve.  Sunday was our monthly Family Dinner and all the “girls” were here as usual with their families and we enjoyed spending time together. When Steve walked up the stairs, he was unable to catch his breath and his heart was racing. For about 10 minutes, we turned up the oxygen and used a cold cloth on his neck. He was finally able to stabilize his breathing and his heart rate.

This episode repeated on Monday evening during dinner.

Then, Tuesday, during ‘Deadliest Catch’, it happened again. This time, we couldn’t.

I am so sorry . . . .I wish I could call each one of you individually to talk and answer any questions. . . and let you know that Steve read the website and was very touched by all of your messages. He was ready to go home and accepted God’s plan for him, whatever that would be.

Steve's funeral arrangements are as follows: Visitation on Tuesday, May 29th from 2-8pm at the Elton Black Funeral Home, 3295 E. Highland Road, Highland, MI.   and Wednesday May 30, 2018 at Church of the Holy Spirit, 3700 Harvey Lake Road in Highland from 10:00am until the time of service at 11:00am.   A Mass of the Resurrection will be held at 11:00am.   Interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.   And arrangements are already posted on the Elton Black website at: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/highland-mi/steven-howard-7859108 DONATIONS

www.Caringbridge.org      or     Church of the Holy Spirit

 

Steve’s Journey Update – Steve at Home

Journal entry by Meg Howard — May 22, 2018

If you want a shorter version of these updates, just read the bold and underlined words.

Since Steve’s airways were reconstructed in early April, Steve’s breathing had been stable. . . . until it wasn’t. The week before his PET scan, Steve said that he was struggling more to get air. We went for his PET scan on Monday, May 14, as planned. The next morning, we showed up for his follow up bronchoscopy, curious to see if anything changed to cause the breathing difficulties. The doctor found that the left side bronchial stent had collapsed and was indeed blocking airflow into his lung. He said that he had a plan to attempt a correction the next day in the surgical suite. 

Before the surgery, the doctor told us that this would be a very difficult procedure to perform and was rather risky. His intent was to use a balloon procedure to open up the stent and put another stent inside it, like a telescope.  And the fistula (opening) had gotten bigger. When he attempted this, the stent expanded into the fistula. There is no structure to the airway any longer; it has been destroyed by the cancer. The tissue is more like raw hamburger, unable to be stitched together. Old residual tumor is brittle, also not able to be stitched or to hold any structure. The surgeon was unable to do anything. And there is possibly some connection between the airway and the esophagus. The right airway stent is still intact and is providing air to the right upper lobe, but cancer is also infiltrating into the lung.

At my last update, he was using oxygen mostly at night. Now, he is using it all the time. He is much more fatigued, he gets short of breath very easily, but his A-fib remains under control.  

We have been talking about end-of-life issues, such as how he wants me to handle certain assets, teaching me how to do maintenance* on household items, talking about the memories, getting his affairs in order (reviewing the Will, etc.) and remembering relationships that we cherish.  

·         * I removed and cleaned the electronic furnace filters and reinstalled them myself today!

 

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