I'll share a quote on how Steve, who loved science, described it:
"All the stuff scientists discover just describes God. Awesome."
For two and one-half years, Steve successfully fought back his Earthly battle with cancer from recurring, but it eventually returned, and he passed away at 2:49 p.m., on Thursday, March 29, 2018, in the loving arms of his family.
Along with his children, I donated Steve's body - for study at the medical, research and educational institutions of Illinois - which was transported to Chicago on March 30, 2018, for acceptance by either Loyola University or the University of Chicago. Any future medical discoveries that might be possible through this donation are, we believe, a lasting tribute to Steve (who became what we teased him about - being his own "medical professional") and how he fought the good fight through these last few years. And how much he appreciated life and always, always wanted to help others, especially his children and grandsons.
Steve told me that he did not see this as "losing his life," but as gaining two more years "to spend with my son" [Stephen, who resided with him, while attending a nearby high school - thanks, Jamie!] "and grandsons" [Hayden and Damien, who gave their Poppy so much love and enjoyment and pride - and are in Florida this week with their Mimi]. He also told me, "Can't wait to see the girls," when he learned Brandy, Krystina, Denim and Taylor would be here with him from Florida this week, once again, as well as Rylan and Kaiden, who arrived from Tennessee, to throw their loving arms around their Dad aka Daddy. And Stephen has been his rock throughout, here in Illinois. He also gave Brandy his second power of attorney, along with me as his first, which was a great comfort to him, and he was very pleased to let her know, as she was to accept it. All of them meant EVERYTHING to him.
Steve was able to hug Tisha and her children Bri, Ryan and Kylee, her Mom and Dad and brothers Casey (whom Steve met in Florida more than a decade ago and has loved like a brother ever since) and Dave and his son this past week, and some of his local friends (all of whom remained close to him this past year, including Kyrus and Andrew). He was so proud and happy when both Rylan and Blade - from Tennessee and Florida, the Dads of Amarah and Lynnae, respectively - were two of the first to call him a couple of months ago, when they learned he was sick again. My sisters Judy and Nancy and nieces Kathy and Aimee and nephew David were also very supportive to us, and helped us circle Steve with loving prayer these last many months. On a special note, my friend Pat in Florida has been my rock, since I chose her to help me navigate caring for Steve throughout this cycle ("lucky" Pat - Ha! - but if you knew her, you'd choose her, too), and his children and grandchildren, going forward, and my other friends have been so very caring and thoughtful. They loved Steve, too.
What I've heard and Steve heard this past week has been heartwarming, for example ~ "I never knew anyone who said anything bad about him," "He's amazing," "He acted like a Dad to me," "I just love him," and - from Brandy, his oldest daughter - "My Dad is so inspiring" ~ which pretty much summed it up for us. One of the friends he had as a teenager wrote, "I was always so moved by Steve's love for his mom and how nothing was left unsaid between him and those he loved." He made a mark on many hearts ... he loved and was loved. He didn't have to "make amends" with anyone, and he told all of us he had "no regrets." All of us will miss him every day. I'm not sure I deserved him, but I'm so proud to be his Mother, even if he did have a party with some of the aforementioned friends when he was in a teenager in OUR apartment when I was out of town, but all is forgiven, Steve! (If you attended "Swaney's Party," you know who you are.)
Back in February and before his latest health decline, Steve started to write a Facebook post for his many friends, old and new, and family members. He wasn't able to finish it, but gave his "draft" to Stephen and we will share that on Facebook. We are also setting up this GoFundMe page to help ease the cost for his children of his end-of-life expenses. I have not done that before and never thought I would, but we all appreciate your consideration at this time.
I will post Steve's remarks next, which he wrote on February 21, before the final chapter. Please keep his children and grandchildren in your thoughts. We don't have to "worry" about Steve at this point ~ he's where he knew he would be ~ with his ultimate soulmate Jesus, coincidentally during Holy Week.
Message from Steve Swaney, February 21, 2018:
"Well, Facebook family & friends, I have been fighting an infection in my right chest cavity where they removed my right lung due to cancer in 2015. I started noticing that I had fluid built up just before Thanksgiving. By December 6th, the fleshpocket had swollen up to the size of a volleyball. On my way out of the shower on the morning my son was going to take me to the ER, it burst! (Video available upon request!) It took about seven minutes for all the fluid to drain out. I ended up feeling so much better releasing liters of schmutz and didn't need to go to the ER because I had plenty of supplies to cover the tiny hole that was in the weakest part of the incision scar from surgery 15 months earlier. I also had an appt set up with my new thoracic surgeon and was just gonna show him. He had me get a CT scan at that time, also on Dec. 7th. At the end of December we set a Jan. 20th date for VATS, a procedure where he went in through the hole I had, and another one to use video to check for lesions, cancer, and any nasty stuff. He had trouble seeing anything but he flushed out my fleshpocket with three liters of antibiotic solution, and I was discharged 5 days later. I was sent home with a PICC line and a pump for an all-day antibiotic drip. The first AB didn't work. The second AB didn't work and now I have been on the third different antibiotic for a few weeks and it is not working. I am swollen up again. Because of this, they rushed a CT scan for me last week. That's one issue. The next issue is a blood clot that started in December as a superficial one in my inner right thigh. I could feel it but didn't really have any symptoms except a one-time high fever. They sent me for an ultrasound and confirmed the clot and checked for a DVT. Didn't find one in the first scan but found one in my right calf four days later on a follow-up scan. The big issue with a DVT is ending up having a piece break off of the clot and moving towards my lung. Anyway, that's what happened. A PE, pulmonary embolism, is poised to block my pulmonary artery and cause sudden death. They not only found the PE in the CT but they also found that I have tumors in my fleshpocket, in my spine, and on my airway causing up to 50% blockage depending on the position I am in. There is no treatment plan until I take a PET scan which will tell if it has spread to other places in my body. Right now, that's what the thoracic surgeon thinks, that I am riddled with cancer and that it is very aggressive.
I have been preparing for the worst since 2014 so I am good with whatever they find and the prognosis. Since then, I have made my way back to Jesus, spent a lot of time teaching my teenage son everything I could about life and share a father's wisdom and love. Love, that's the whole point to this human thing. A true miracle of the universe. All of creation is for one thing. For love! We are all already together in eternity. No matter what your faith is in, this is true. I just want all of you to know that I love you. I try to love everyone. Pass it around. Love. Love. Love loving love. Pass it on!!"
- Nicholas McNellis
- Jami Lloyd-Rios
- Stephen Dempsey
- Mike DeClerico
- Ruth Kneale
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