Steve passed away at 3:30am on Friday the 13th 2009. He died peacefully in his sleep at Friends’ House in Santa Rosa, the hospice he was moved to the previous morning. His brother, Ron, and sister-in-law, Wendy, were with him when he died.
Steve had been moved to the hospice from Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa after a determination that he had slipped into an irreversible coma and nothing further could be done. Most of Steve’s friends and family visited with him during the day, remembering previous escapades and swapping stories. A basket was placed outside his window and he seemed to take comfort from the “ching” of the chains as friends took turns putting.
There were phone calls from friends too far away to visit and Steve seemed to respond to the voices. He became quieter as the day went on, then finally let go and slipped away in the early morning.
Steve was diagnosed with Stage IV Esophageal cancer on March 6, 2008. An initial course of radiation therapy was successful in shrinking the primary tumor to the point where the insertion of a stent was not needed, but the cancer had already spread to the liver. Through his ongoing chemotherapy Steve remained hopeful and actually had more good days than bad. Recent scans of his liver showed all but one of the tumors in his liver where shrinking and Steve was planning a visit with his brother in Washington where he would continue his chemotherapy at the Kaiser Hospital there. Then a few weeks ago he began to experience back pain which he initially thought was due to twisting his back during an outing. When he began to experience weakness in his legs, a cat scan of his back was ordered which revealed a tumor on his spine. When an additional course of radiation was prescribed, he was still planning on making the trip because he had such good results from the previous course. He had finished that course on Monday, March 9th. He was feeling the exhaustion and weakness associated with radiation therapy but expected that to pass in a few days. No one had any inkling that the tumor had already spread to his brain.
On Tuesday, the 10th, while on the phone with his brother, Ron, Steve became non responsive. George Houston checked on him and found him weak and a little lethargic but otherwise ok. When he came back a few hours later, Steve suffered a seizure. George called Kevin Royal and, between the two of them, they got him to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa. There the doctors did a scan of his head and found a 2 cm tumor in the area of his hypothalamus and several smaller tumors scattered throughout. Steve never regained consciousness and expired 1 year and 7 days after his initial diagnosis. He was 38 years old.
Steve is survived by his brother, Ron, and sister-in-law, Wendy of Seattle, WA, his mother, Sandra, of Rohnert Park and numerous members of his extended Disc Golf family.
It has been a long journey and an even longer couple of days for some of us. I will post further details when arrangements are made and things settle down a bit. I know I am forgetting people because I’m very tired and sad, but these are some of the people who earned their wings on this journey.
Firstly, we would like to thank the folks at Kaiser Hospital, particularly the staff of the Infusion Lab where Steve received his weekly Chemotherapy. These people don’t just have a job, they have a calling. They did everything possible to make things as easy and comfortable as possible, not only for Steve but for his caretaker, George. They were always there to offer a cookie or a cooling drink or an extra pillow. They were angels.
Thanks to the final nursing staff in Kaiser Hospital who did everything possible to make sure Steve was comfortable in his final stay with them.
Thank you to the care staff at Friend’s House who made it clear that Steve’s comfort was of foremost importance during
the final hours of his life and for their patience and tolerance of his somewhat rowdy extended family.
Thank you to the nameless off-duty paramedic in the Emergency room parking lot who helped George and Kevin get Steve into the Emergency room when they arrived at the hospital.
More thanks than we can express goes to Steves boss at North Bay Landscaping who elected to continue contributing to Steve’s insurance plan long past the time when he was forced to stop working. Most employers would have terminated benefits at the end of the month. He, too, earned his wings.
Thanks, of course, to the members of “The Family” who stopped by Kaiser and the hospice to cheer Steve on during his final round. Again, if I forget someone, I apologize and will make amends, I’m just a little punchy. There was Greg Gobin, Kevin Royal, Bobby, Warren, Rog, Danny, Rick, Don Capps, Lance, Justin, Eric Edwards, Ben (yea…Arm Farm) and John Childs (he of the humungous arm). And we can’t forget Kalena who, although she was unable to make the trip from Santa Cruz, called the hospice so she could talk with Steve over the phone and let him know she was there in spirit.
Kevin Royal will look pretty silly in wings but he earned the right to wear them when he dropped everything, stuffed his dinner in his back pocket (squashed burrito…ech…), jumped on his bike and sped down the hill to help George carry Steve to the car when he was having seizures.
And, of course, George who has transported Steve back and forth to Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments, hospital and doctor visits and done general fetch and carry duty during this long journey.