Saturday, June 27, 2009


Steve and me at the Tower of London, May 9 2008
(it's a terrible picture of both of us, but the only one I have)

My friend Steve passed away on Monday.

Steve and I first met on Planet Cancer, an online community for young adults with cancer. Both leukemia patients, both having recieved bone marrow transplants only a few months earlier, we bonded over sharing medication side effects and dosages, trying to figure out if a bizarre symptom might have been due to GVHD (more often than not, yes), and exchanging advice offered by our medical teams. Steve lived in England, but we emailed every couple of weeks over the course of three years.

Being a young adult with cancer is a strange position to be in. You don't fit in with the grandparents at the cancer clinic, but you're too old to play with the toys in the kids' waiting room. Your non-cancer peers are mostly concerned with classes and exams, who they are currently hooking up with, and how to get drunk that weekend. We are more concerned about not puking every five minutes, finding a warm enough head covering for winter and not dying. Planet Cancer is an amazing organization that offers a supportive, empowering and knowledgeable community, where you don't have to worry about being bald (because everyone else is, was or will be!), or expressing your fears about dating after cancer, the loss of independence, medical stories or talking about how truly awful chemotherapy and radiation really are. Anything and everything goes on PC, especially including humor about cancer and the situation we find ourselves in.

Steve had been through a lot. Originally diagnosed with leukemia back in March of 2005, he had a hard time getting into remission and went through months of chemotherapy. He got a transplant in September of 2005 from his younger sister, and then dealt with GVHD and many medications and a few infections. But he never let it get him down. Steve wanted to be a photographer when he finally finished being sick. He took a photography course by correspondance and entered several photography competitions while he was still going to the hospital every week.

Steve relapsed shortly before his three year transplant birthday. He recieved more chemo, had various complications and infections, and then got a second transplant from an unrelated donor at the end of January. The last time I heard from him things were going well, he seemed to be happy and recovering. He was spending a lot of time with his girlfriend, Laura.

And then I got an email earlier this week from Laura. Steve is gone.

Steve and I only met in person once, last May when I went to London. I'm so glad we got the chance to meet in person when we were both well.

I don't think it's really sunk in yet that he's gone. I think it will in a couple of weeks when I start thinking that I haven't heard from him in a while and wondering how he is doing, and then realize that I will never recieve an email from him again.

I posted about Steve because he deserves to be remembered. He was so nice, positive, always supportive, just a really good guy who I will miss greatly. I encourage you to check out his photography at

Rest in peace, Steve. You deserve to.


shannon said...

I'm so sorry. Lots and lots of virtual hugs.

Animesh said...


RIP, Steve

au soleil levant said...

Thanks guys

Ksam said...

What a nice tribute, thanks for sharing a little part of Steve with us.

Andromeda said...

The loss of a friend is always so hard, I hope you're doing okay. I am glad you have such nice memories of him, and that you shared some with us, and his story.

Katie said...

I'm really sorry about your friend. Thanks for sharing your story, I hope you are ok.

Zhu said...

I'm really sorry to hear that. There is something extremely disturbing to hear about young people dying... because at the back of our minds, we think we just don't deserve it, it's too early and in this case, death is unpredictable.

This was a lovely tribute.

Virtual hugs, hope you are doing fine.

au soleil levant said...

Thaks so much for the kind thoughts. I'm glad you thought it was a nice tribute, that's what I was going for. I'm doing okay, just a little sad.