Steve's story

OAK HARBOR Steve Szabo lights up when he talks sports with his sons. He smiles slight
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

OAK HARBOR

Steve Szabo lights up when he talks sports with his sons.

He smiles slightly beneath his fu manchu mustache when his wife, Margaret, teases him for forgetting their anniversary.

He soaks in the warmth of his family and remembers why he pushes on.

Steve, 38, was diagnosed with colon cancer in January 2006 and was told July 20 he has less than three months to live.

"I've got an attitude where I push it down and keep going forward," Steve said.

Since he was diagnosed, Steve has lost more than 100 pounds and receives treatment for the nagging pain that assaults him on a daily basis.

"I've seen him in so much pain. More than anything, I want the pain to stop," Margaret said. "If I could take it away, I would."

Steve fingers his wedding band and talks about his 16 years of marriage to the woman who has been his rock.

"I can't help it. I love my wife," Steve said. "I think without my wife I wouldn't have made it this long."

During Steve's surgery and chemotherapy treatment last year the family was dealt another blow. In June 2006, Margaret, 38, was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Colon cancer affects one out of 2,500 people, but thyroid cancer is quite rare and affects one out of a million people.

After two surgeries and radioactive iodine treatments, Margaret beat the cancer -- all while keeping the family intact.

In many cases, cancer can go into remission, but can also come back, said Diane Kehres, oncology clinical nurse specialist with Firelands Regional Medical Center.

"Nothing is a guarantee," Kehres said. "Unfortunately, there are re-occurences."

Earlier this year, Steve was given a clean bill of health, but then found out in March that the cancer had returned.

"I was really angry," Steve said. "I thought I had it beat."

The cancer spread from his colon to his chest, neck, back and hip and finally to his brain. The cancer can be treated, but not cured, Steve said.

About 90 percent of the colon cancer cases emerge in adults aged 50-older, Kehres said. Steve falls in the smaller percentage where age is not a factor. He also has no history of colon cancer in his family.

Steve and Margaret's sons, 10-year-old Vince and 8-year-old Thomas, will receive colonoscopy screenings when they turn 25 and several years after to catch any occurrence of colon cancer.

Margaret takes one day at a time and tries not to think of the future, but when she does, she thinks of Steve.

"He's always going to be with us," Margaret said. "Even though he'll be gone, he'll never be forgotten. I look in both kids' eyes and I see him."

Colon Cancer

*1 in 2,500 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer

*About 90 percent of cases occur in people age 50 and older

*Men are 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed than women

*Symptoms include rectal bleeding, change in bowel habits, blood in stool and persistent cramping pain in the lower abdomen

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

*One in a million people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer

*It can occur in all age groups, mainly adults.

*Women are three times more likely to be diagnosed than men

*Symptoms include a lump or nodule in neck and changes in one's voice

How to help:

WHAT: Pancake and Sausage Breakfast

WHERE: Port Clinton Moose Lodge, 1105 W. Lakeshore Drive

WHEN: 8 a.m. to noon Sunday

WHY: All proceeds will benefit the Margaret and Steve Szabo family

CONTACT: Julie Camp at 419-898-7931