The Steve Garner Memorial Fund: a Cancer Hero, Cancer Companion and Stem Cell Transplant Survivor

steve-and-dee-garner-768x1024Steve Garner honored all of us at Cancer Companions by sharing his heart and his story to give others an intimate view of not only the walk of a stem cell transplant survivor but of a man who saw the hand of Christ all along his journey.  In his honor, we have established the Steve Garner Memorial Fund to benefit the training, equipping and support of caring individuals who wish to draw people coping with cancer closer to Christ through Christian cancer support groups and one to one peer support.

To donate, CLICK HERE.

Please take a moment to learn more about Steve through his precious wife Dee’s own words.  This was written in August 2013:

In June 2006, after my husband Steve had been sick for over a month, he was admitted to the Oncology unit for more tests.  Unable to sleep, I prayed and hugged my Bible.  I learn at age 45, that my husband has cancer.  Although I don’t understand, I’m not scared.  I know that God is faithful to His promises and will Steve and Dee
walk this journey with us.

The diagnosis is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia otherwise known as CLL.  I don’t know if Steve is going to live or die. Still, I trust God.  He is our Healer.

Over the next 5 years Steve is in and out of remission undergoing a six month series of chemo in 2006 and again in 2009.  The cancer returns again in 2011. Three types of chemo have been tried and the lymph nodes continue to enlarge. Is Steve going to die?  We and many others continue to pray.

October 2011, we are referred to see an oncologist at a leading cancer center here in St. Louis, MO.  A trial drug is offered.  Steve accepts.  The first two months show significant improvement as the lymph nodes reduce in size. The next two months are a stalemate. No further reduction; no new growth.  It’s now March and the cancer is no longer responding to treatment.  The only option at this time is a Stem Cell Transplant.

Within two weeks, two perfect match donors are found.  That is our God at work!  The Stem Cell Transplant is scheduled for late March.  However, the donor has had a family emergency and is unable to donate.  Emotions run high. We are disappointed, yet I am happy.  Our first grandchild is due to be born April 7, 2012.  Steve was going to miss being at the birth and now will be able to attend this celebration.  Our granddaughter arrives beautiful and healthy. We are blessed beyond measure!

Steve is hospitalized May 1st.  He undergoes chemo and total body irradiation to completely destroy his immune system.  I pray nothing happens in the transport of the stem cells from the second donor.  The stem cell transplant is scheduled for May 5th.  I pray again for no complications.  Again, I have no fear.  God is in control.

May 5th, the stem cells arrive; the entire transplant process takes about 20 minutes.  I am unprepared for the peace and calm that envelopes me.  God is definitely here in the room with us.

After three weeks Steve is discharged from the hospital.  Due to complications, he is hospitalized several times throughout the next twelve months.  He isn’t eating. I get frustrated.  Steve’s immune system is severely compromised.  I clean house from top to bottom every day, afraid germs will make him sick.  Slowly, Steve regains strength and medications are significantly reduced.  His new bone marrow is now producing normal healthy cells.  No cancer.  Praise God!  Life is now full, rich and active.  It’s wonderful to see how God has worked in our lives through every difficulty.

About Karen Tripp

Beyond being a Christian Counselor and the President of Cancer Companions, Karen loves to read (she's a great reader) and loves to sing (she's a bad singer) in her home near St Louis, MO. Cancer has personally touched Karen's personal life through her dad - a 23 year colon cancer survivor. Impacting lives for Christ through her speaking, writing and counseling fills Karen with a passion which infuses every task she approaches. (except matching socks. Karen hates matching socks.)
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