Steve Beats Cancer

This story is about my best friend, Steve. Steve has cancer.

As is usually the case, Steve didn’t always have cancer. He has always been a healthy guy. Healthy, overwhelmingly positive, kind. In all the years I’ve known Steve I would be more than hard pressed to come up with one person he had ever been anything but nice to. Steve is one of those people that makes you wish you were better at being a person. Steve is better at everything he does than I am at any one thing I do. When his time as a drummer for international touring bands came to an end he just up and decided to learn photography and videography.  He mastered the arts and became a highly sought after artisan. He can make the most important day of one person’s life look like the most important day in history. Steve is authentic; he is the genuine article. Steve is the brother I never had.

Steve had spent a little time in the hospital recently because he was having stomach issues, which turned out to be an ulcer.  When he told be me he had spent a few nights in the hospital I raised my voice and became cross with him for not telling me. He is my best friend. I could help.

November 6. He texted me the day he found out the particularly problematic ulcer wasn’t healing correctly. It wasn’t healing because the ulcer had cancer in it. He was going to have surgery to remove part of his middle stomach.  This is very common, just not in someone Steve’s age. 33. Scary problem, easy fix. This would be the first of many times that we would hear the phrase “extremely uncommon in someone your age.”

November 9. Surgery day. Procedure was to start at 1pm. I wished him the best, hoped for even better and waited to hear everything went well.  At 6pm I got a text, “Surgery took longer than expected… they ended up taking out his entire stomach.” What? Is that even a thing? Can someone live without a stomach? What could they have possibly found that would make them think it was a good idea to remove his entire stomach? It wasn’t until the next day that we found out the answer: cancer. Lots of cancer. We cried.

 They removed his entire stomach and twenty-seven lymph nodes and sent it all off to a lab. The doctors told him they sent it off to see if they “got it all.” My immediate response was how can they see if they “got it ALL” by looking at what is out of his body already? Probably not the most helpful.

November 16.  A week after surgery and we were anxiously (nervously) waiting to hear back about the results. Results came back: Not good.  He has aggressive, invasive stage 3 gastric adenocarcinoma.  His entire stomach was engulfed in it. Thirteen of the lymph nodes had it. When receiving the news, ever-optimistic Steve was taking it all with the positivity only Steve could. The doctor said to Steve “I don’t think you understand how serious this is.” Whoa. Ouch. Okay. So we’re doomed?

That escalated quickly.

It was just an ulcer. Then the ulcer had cancer. Then it was stomach cancer. Then it was cancer also in his lymph nodes. Then it was stage 3 gastric adenocarcinoma: extremely uncommon in someone his age. All in a matter of a 10 days.

December 21. Steve started chemotherapy.

In the past two months I’ve learned a lot about cancer. I’ve learned that cancer is not honest. I’ve learned that it can mutate to look like normal cells, to hide amongst healthy ones. I’ve learned that cancer can live in a person’s blood undetected.  I’ve learned that some people lack a gene that all-but-prevents them from going into remission. I’ve learned that Steve is one of those people. I’ve learned that fighting cancer without the benefit of a fully functioning digestive system is an additional challenge. Most importantly I’ve learned that cancer can’t subside my best friend’s spirit.

Steve is my best friend. He has a long path to recovery ahead of him. So many people have reached out with their kind thoughts, prayers, love and words of encouragement. Overwhelming amounts of people have asked if there is anything they can do to help.  I wanted to start this fundraiser to give that opportunity.  

Steve has the monumental task of healing ahead of him. I am hopeful that through this fundraiser we can raise enough money to take that burden off him so he can focus all of his good vibes and energy towards his body.

Please, if you feel inclined, donate to this fundraiser to help with the ever-growing medical costs that come with the treatment of the miscreant that is cancer. If you are not so inclined, we also accept positive thoughts, prayers, vibes and meditations.

Whatever that looks like, help us help Steve beat cancer.

Donations (707)

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  • Rebecca Terranova
    • $10 
    • 4 yrs
  • Halie Carter
    • $20 
    • 5 yrs
  • Sy He
    • $200 
    • 5 yrs
  • Ryan Zarchy
    • $100 
    • 5 yrs
  • Alec Joy
    • $50 
    • 5 yrs
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Matt Burns Poulos
Tallahassee, FL
Steven Kopacz

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