3rd Annual SLPLF "Fight For Life" Walk/Run
March 24th, 2012

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 Steven L Pearson's Story

Steven was a die hard Kansas City Chiefs fan, which is why the colors of the foundation are Red/Gold/White. He loved Derrick Thomas, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.

He also loved to work. He loved his profession with a passion, which was working in the gym industry. He left it for a few years, but found out that the working in the gym was his professional true love. It went right in line with what he wanted for others and how he vowed to help others attain their goals, whatever it might be.

Steven and I had many dreams of our own on what our life would be like a few years down the road. We loved watching Jadon our oldest son, gain such a liking to football. It is ridiculous that a 6 year old can have that much passion for something; football was his life with his father. We also were eagar to see baby Davin, our youngest all grown up, with his own personality and what would he have a love for; music, sports, the opportunities were endless? Would he have Steven’s personality or mine? We wondered if the cabin in the mountains we wanted in the future would ever come to fruition or if we would ever travel around the world once the kids were gone…but life came to a screeching halt on November 12, 2007, those things were of no concern at this exact moment in time…

Steven had not been feeling well with what we thought at the time was just a miserable sinus infection. He had gone to a neighborhood Urgent Care on November 8th 2007 and they had given him an very strong antibiotic, Cipro which should have treated a Severe Sinus infection. After a couple of days he was feeling a little bit better, but when he woke up on Monday morning, November 12th, his lymph nodes all over his body were about the size of quarters and hard as rocks. I told him to get a second opinion at another Dr’s Office and he told me he had to go to work and that he would stop by tomorrow. Needless to say, on his way to work, he took my advise, or the advise of the spirit as he said, pulling him towards the Gilbert Urgent Care. He went in and Dr. Kirkpatrick who saw him said that he was going to be running every test possible as the antibiotic Steven was on should have worked.

Early that evening on November 12th, Dr. Kirkpatrick called Steven to come back to the Urgent Care that night as he needed to talk to him about the results. Steven said that he had to finish work and that he would stop by tomorrow morning. Dr Kirkpatrick said “NO” you need to come here now. Steven complied with his request and went to Dr Kirkpatrick’s office alone not know what lie ahead. My husband at a time like this would have needed me, but not knowing what was going on, found out by him self, nonetheless, that he had leukemia. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia to be specific. Dr. Kirkpatrick let him know that he had to be admitted into the hospital that night to begin Chemo.

I was at home when he came home from work early at around 6:30 and he wasn’t scheduled off until 8 PM. I looked at him from the banister upstairs at my sisters home where I was working for their at home business and saw the film in his hands…I knew something was wrong, but this, no, not this. When he told me, he said the word cancer first, and I lost it and begged him to fix it, that they must be lying to him. And then he said Leukemia, which seemed ten times worse than cancer itself. I went numb…our children, me, and Steven for goodness sakes, how would we live without him or better yet, how could I go through this with him and give him the support he needed.

After calling his family and mine to let them know what was going on, I decided he needed a strong wife, not a week one. So I wiped my tears and looked at him and said I am okay now, how are you? He surprisingly said “I am really okay right now.”

We got that call from Chandler Regional Hospital that his room was ready around 9:30 the same night. So my father, knowing that either of us shouldn’t be driving, took us to the hospital where he would spend the next 6-8 weeks going through induction Chemotherapy, which is two different types of chemotherapy and very high doses at that. What Steven went through in the first 2 days was absolutely dreadful, the countless bone marrow biopsies, leukophoresis day after day (which is taking out the excessive white blood cells so they can start chemotherapy, numerous new ports being put in as they kept getting infected over and over, the infections which came from the body having no white blood cells to be able to fend off any disease and not to mention the rapid weight loss. But after all the “hell” he went through he finally got to come home for Christmas and New Years. Which looking back on it was the best family Christmas and New Years I could ever have hoped for.

My kids got their dad home for the holidays. My step son Joshua, 17 at the time, had come from Kansas City once he found out his father had Leukemia, Jadon who was only 7 at the time so very happy that his daddy was home that he wouldn’t leave his side. He even tried to stay home from school to stay with his dad. As for the baby, he was only 5 months old at the time and Steve taught him to say his first word, Daddy while he was home for those few weeks. Go figure, right! We were on cloud nine; nothing could take us down now, we were a strong family. His cancer (leukemia) was in remission.

To stay in remission, Steven was to go back in for consolidation Chemo on December 26th, 2007. With Leukemia, there are no groupings or stages; it is a typing that determines how deadly it can be. His typing was of the more severe, so the Dr. wanted him to start his second round very soon after the induction chemo. As a precautionary measure, the Dr always has a Heart test, CT scan and MRI done on the patient’s body to show that they are healthy enough to endure chemo. The MRI showed some sort of growth in the lungs. Later that after noon he was called down to surgery so that they could get a lung biopsy of whatever was growing in his lungs. They biopsied the mass and thought that he had a lung infection, so the Chemo would have to wait because they couldn’t chance his white blood cells going to zero where his body couldn’t even fend off the common cold and yet alone a lung infection. He would literally have no immune system and that infection could spread to the rest of the body very quickly. So he was put on a very heavy antibiotic to get the mass to clear up and with no avail, it didn’t. He was still taking all the medication as prescribed, when he started not remembering things, simple things, like when and if he ate lunch today. So I new something wasn’t right with him and his memory. I however, would soon understand it all.

Though I was unaware of what was rapidly going on in his body, Steven knew. He looked at me that Sunday morning and said its back, I’ve relapsed. I can feel it in my bones. I said “well we will just fight it again and I’ll be right here for you and we will beat this.” This happened to be the 19th of January.

He had given blood regularly on Monday and Thursday every week, with the results being sent to his oncologists’ office. I got a call on January 23rd from his Dr. wanting him to go give blood again after he just had, so we were sure now that Steven was right. I spoke to the nurse that called me to have him give more blood and I mentioned to her about his face being paralyzed on the right side. She said “give me a minute and I’ll call you right back.” Not 30 seconds later she called back to tell me to get him to the emergency room immediately.

He still had his facial droop as if he’d had a stroke. The ER ran all the tests and no stroke, so what could this be? He knew his cancer was back and the blood tests at the emergency room confirmed the elevated white blood cells and our assumptions. But what we didn’t expect or anticipate was what his oncologist wanted to do next.

Because of his facial droop, the Dr. wanted to perform a spinal tap to see if the leukemia had infiltrated into his brain and spinal fluid. (Which by the way, statistically, is less than 25% of ALL Leukemia and less than 1% of ALL AML PATIENTS?) That was a very heavy blow to Steven; he thought that he fought so hard and now this. I tried to keep his spirits up, but after so much bad news, over and over, it tends to wear on you and of coarse it wore on him especially.

The results from the spinal tap came in and it was not in his favor. I spoke with Dr. Kellogg and he wanted to let me know that the news was very serious and that Steven would have to fight for his life as he was now dying. The cancer had infiltrated into his brain and spinal fluid and now Steven would have to have spinal taps every two days until he said enough is enough. The massive headaches, the chemo going directly into his spine, the mass that accumulated in his brain, which they couldn’t tell me what it was: Cancer or no Cancer! The infection in his lungs was still there, the bleeding of the stomach lining from all the massive amounts of chemo that he had to have, and of coarse the blood infection which made his heart race at 140 beats per minute resting and his blood pressure sky rocketed. The Dr’s and nurses made a collective decision that my husband needed to be moved to ICU where he could get more personalized care, which was on the 13th of February. My husband had 2 seizures; the last of them was the Grand Mall seizure that the ICU nurses and Dr’s had to revive him and that left him on life support. The Dr’s wanted me to give them 24 hours to see if there would be a change in his condition and low and behold there wasn’t. I took him off life support on February 16th 2008 per his wishes in his will. His will stated that I needed 2 Dr’s in the specialty of his disease to tell me that he didn’t have a chance of survival. After I had 3 different specialists tell me that they could no longer do anything for my husband and his chance of survival was 0%. The ICU nurses at that time extebated him and took him off life support. While this was happening, the nurses that had been his nurses for the full 3 months form the 3rd floor of Chandler Regional Hospital, offered to be with me when they took him off life support. We wouldn’t know if he would die right then or if he would fight what was the inevitable, his dying day. After Steven started to breathe on his own I had a sense of hope, that he might beat the odds anyway, but the Dr’s assured me it was just a matter of time as his liver and kidneys had shut down. So with the inevitable happening, the ICU nurses asked if I wanted to have Steven moved to where he would be surrounded by the nurses he new best, the ones who gave him all their love and cared for him in his last hours. He loved all his nurses on the 3rd floor of that hospital. He enjoyed teasing them in particular and it would only suit him to be with them as well as all of his family and of coarse my immediate family and some of his closes friends. We stayed with him until his last breath at 12:45 am on February 17th, 2008. He died with dignity and strength; and most of all with the love, grace and mercy of God and knowing that he would be in a much better place upon his passing.

As I am left with our children and great memories; as him of a husband and of him as a father, I cannot help but wonder if he is around me throughout my everyday walk. Does he help me through the rough times, or when I question my faith? Is he there to calm me with a dream or a song of worship? Who’s to say? I only hope I have shown him that strength that I gathered from him while I watched him wither away and this horrible disease called cancer take his life. But something always has me thinking and pondering? How can my life impact others with this dreadful disease? What can I do to help?

Not sure where to start, I just remembered my husbands plea that he left for me that replays over and over in my head. Please help other’s not ever have to go through something so horrible. This has torn at my heart, day after day. Until it came to me…his legacy and how important it was to him and our boys and I have a chance to help and create something for patients and families battling such a disease. This wonderful foundation!

Loosing my husband is by far the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. When I think of our kids it takes the breath right out of me, to watch them hurt while they remember their dad, questioning if he will ever come back, or refuse to talk about him at all in an effort to keep me from crying. Steven watches over us daily, I truly believe that. That gives me the comfort I long for in an effort to know that God needed another angel and as they say; He always takes the best…

I leave you with Steven’s last request of me;

As he said in his low quivering voice just barely able to speak, taking many short breaths, and pausing from time to time, “Fight for the Life of others battling Leukemia, it’s to late for me, but Fight for them.” It took him about 20 minutes to get that sentence out before he was no longer able to communicate at all.

Now you tell me, how I could denounce making a difference in the lives of patients and families with Leukemia. I can’t! Always remember, “One person always makes a difference in the lives of many.” Please give generously to this cause and help me keep my promise to Steven.

We are only here for a short time and until you are faced with something as challenging as this you will never know what it is like to truly battle something like this. So help me help others and may God Bless you all.

I will leave you with this quote from The Cancer Center Treatment of America: “Whoever said winning isn’t everything, never had to battle cancer”

Steven L. Pearson Leukemia Foundation
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