Most of us would break under the constant blows that Steve Avery has taken, but Steve is no ordinary kind of person, this guy is tough as nails. To understand just how tough this guy is we need to take the story back to late in 2015 when a persistent nose bleed started.
Nose bleeds seem to happen while living in the high desert climate here in the mountains of Colorado. But Steve’s nose bleeds were beyond the norm, so he decided to seek medical advice. After several opinions a decision was reached to cauterize the bleeding. The doc performing the work also took a biopsy which was the start to discovering what no one ever wants to hear, “you have cancer”. The medical prognosis was dispersed cell cancer of the face, mouth and neck.
Wow, a hard blow to take, but maybe not as difficult as the one hearing what treatment was recommended which included a Rhinectomy (removal of his nose and internal base), removing 3 teeth and part of his palate, removal of his upper lip, a dissection of the lymph nodes requiring a cut from one ear to the other, and of course chemo and radiation.
Round 1 and Steve’s hit hard. Cancer changes people’s lives, but this seems radical. Not fighting is out of the question though, so Steve begins to uncover every alternative possible to take on the battle. Oxygen therapy, vitamin C infusions, organic substances and a multitude of other alternative treatments are tried, many that other head and neck cancer patients had success with.
Unfortunately Steve soon realizes the cancer acceleration only has been slowed, it did not stop. So here we are in October 2016 and it’s now or never to go with the recommended western medicine treatment. With the help of the local hospital Steve is referred to one of the best cancer facilities in the country, MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. There he is put through a slew of testing to learn round 2 is an even tougher than the first – Steve’s cancer is now stage 4B terminal. He’s told his only option is to receive hospice care....WHAT?
A true champion doesn’t throw in the towel, he keeps fighting, and that’s exactly what Steve did. He told the doctors he wasn’t there to die, damn it, and wanted treatment. His case was debated in a forum of docs and they thankfully decided to move forward with a treatment plan. Massive chemo for the first 3 months, surgery as described above along with reconstruction, and then 6 weeks of proton radiation. That first trip to Texas was 7 months in length.
Back home Steve’s friends were grateful that he would have another chance, yet everyone knew Steve wasn’t going to be the same. With the changes in his looks others may have stepped away from friends and society. This part of the fight would put an end to their daily lives, but Steve’s champion attributes of courage and a strong spirit shined through. He came home with his head held high, and he partook in friendships. Even more exciting is he had a newly adopted son at his side. His boy, Hayden, was the twinkle in his eye and the best medicine he could ask for.
It would be nice to say his fight was over, but unfortunately no. The chemo and radiation started to take its toll. Steve’s body lost its ability to absorb nutrients and water, a condition known as Cachexia (wasting disease). His body weight dropped from 150 to 120 pounds. He lost energy, but he didn’t lose his fight. With help he learned not just what to eat, but to change how he ate.
He gained enough weight to get back into the ring for a series of mouth and lip reconstructions. Large skin graphs were taken from his wrist and from his side which were attached and then at a later date shaved down to form a new upper lip. Dental implants and a prosthetic nose were fit.
The tide seem to be changing, final rounds looked good until February of 2019 when simple symptoms of a cold started. The sniffling and running of an eye turned into a stomach virus (Nora) knocking him off his feet. Suddenly things got urgent when the virus turned into an abscess sinus cyst and blood clot behind his left eye causing temporary loss of sight and significant facial swelling. Steve was admitted to the hospital and then transferred to another with doctors saying critical emergency surgery was needed. Somehow the big punches miss, and he escapes with a protocol of antibiotics, a less invasive surgery to help with a serious sinus infection, and now needing blood thinners to help remove the clot. Seemed like an easy round, but the surgery and use of blood thinners cause uncontrolled bleeding blocking his airway. At one point it becomes so bad that he's unable to breath. After several trips to the doctors and some painful procedures the bleeding is under control.
Next on the list is a heart valve repair taking place this week. Our fingers are crossed that all goes smoothly.
You’re probably thinking seriously, how many blows can one man take. Well the final blow is one his friends are asking your help with. Through this process Steve was being responsible paying for the high cost of health insurance. He understood there were going to be non-covered treatments that his insurance company would refuse to consider, such as those alternative medicine options. Ok fine, but what he didn’t expect to hear is that the insurance company was going to deny $75,000 dollars of his treatments at MD Anderson. This story could go on and on about the problems he encountered with this nightmare, but to keep it short and put it into perspective right when Steve was getting prepped for his big surgery at MD Anderson he was notified coverage was not going to pay as he was out of state. One of many bull larky excuses the insurance company has used not to pay for treatments.
Please consider helping him knock down the unexpected medical costs. If you would be so kind also share Steve’s story on social media and with friends and let’s put a big exclamation point on this fight for him. Steve is happy to report he is cancer free and ever so grateful for his continued chance on life.
- Ron Joas
- Tony Brewer
- Valerie & Jim Githens
- Keith Brand
- Jim Rominger
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