“It’s a scary word to say,” I hear myself mutter, “cancer.” “Yes,” he replies, “but once you can say it, you can deal with it.”
Meet Steve Klier, 70 years of age and a MUSA Martial Arts Taekwondo instructor – a sport he took up at 60, three years after his cancer diagnosis.
Feeling healthy at age 57, a mis-marked blood work order surprisingly revealed a white blood cell count far out of normal range. Follow-up tests produced a diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Slowly attacking the immune system, the cancer decreases the body’s ability to fight off illness and disease. “Much like AIDS,” Steve explains, “It’s not the cancer that actually gets you.”
But you would never know this about Steve – the diagnosis, the fight, the gnawing awareness of disease. All you would know from time with Steve is…LIFE.
Sweating through a two-and-a-half minute plank, Steve teaches me about presidents – he has determined to read a book on each one of them since retirement. Through countless kicks and squats and pushups I hear stories of his week-long rafting trips – the beauty of the canyons, the peacefulness of the river, the little bats that hid from the sun in the boat’s flag.
With Steve there is joy and adventure and the constant moving forward. With Steve Klier there is life.
Reflecting on the months I’ve spent with Steve, I am thankful. Thankful for his stories, thankful for his smile, thankful for the way he jokes with my kids.
But I am also thankful for hope.
For in Steve Klier I see hope for aging well, hope for the constant pursuit of life regardless of age, hope for light on the other side of a cancer diagnosis.
And there IS growing hope. In fact, Steve’s own mother died of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia at an age younger than he. “A different time,” Steve acknowledges, “it was just a different time.”
A different time, indeed. Advances in diagnosis and treatment of all kinds of cancer have made lives like Steve Klier’s possible. And as we at The Laue Team partner with Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research, we do so not only to generate funds, but to honor those who have done so before.
Those, who that thanks to their past efforts and donations and hard work have made my time with Steve Klier possible – time that will forever be precious to me.