Steve Sewell Discusses Life and a Cancer Diagnosis

 In Cancer Support, Cancer Treatment, Patient Experiences

As a golf touring pro, Steve Sewell has lived all over the world, consulting on every aspect of golf. One of his highlights was living in Egypt where he worked on golf properties before moving back to the states. He has always lived an active lifestyle and enjoyed owning his own business and getting to see the world.

A Diagnosis

In December 2015, Steve was admitted to the hospital for a double hernia. Little did he know his hospital stay would be more serious than he expected and change his life forever. While being treated for the hernia, Steve was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). CCL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). The cancer cells start in the bone marrow but then goes into the blood.

The CLL diagnosis came as a complete surprise to Steve, as he had not yet noticed any symptoms nor been sick. The first few days after diagnosis were nerve wracking, he recalls. He was forced to wait over the weekend to find out the exact cancer type and his prognosis. He soon found out about the CLL and that, unfortunately, there is no cure currently available.

Conquering Treatment

Steve was living in the Raleigh area at the time and was therefore referred to Personalized Hematology/Oncology of Wake Forest. Before he could start any treatment, Dr. Castillos informed him he needed to get his blood count numbers into a higher range. It took a full year of monitoring, iron infusions and blood counts going up and down for his counts to reach a point where chemotherapy could begin. Soon after he started treatment, Dr. Castillos found that his leukemia had morphed, as it sometimes does, into a new type of CLL. He was then put on a new oral chemotherapy medication he continues to take every day.

Helpful Support

Steve says he is incredibly thankful for the full support of family and friends. He happened to find a new church a few years before his diagnosis, strengthening his faith and giving him a group of friends who offered as much help as they could, even driving him to doctor appointments. Although fear has been the most significant challenge during his diagnosis, the love and empowering words from family have helped him overcome the fear of the unknown.

“I used to be scared to walk into the doctor’s office each time, waiting for bad news,” Steve said. “But you get used to it and learn to live with it.”

His girlfriend Cindy told him matter-of-factly, “You’ve beat a lot, let’s beat this.” Steve says his mother always raised him with the mindset that you shouldn’t be a cry baby, everyone has their issues, a mindset that has helped him put his diagnosis into perspective.

The Journey

Steve says he has stayed busy during his diagnosis and treatment to keep his mind focused on positive thoughts. He has distracted himself by becoming even more active than he was before and continuing to work, doing what he loves. Steve says, “Downtime is never good, for anybody.”

Although he now lives in Morehead City, he travels back to Wake Forest every month to see Dr. Castillos to monitor his condition. Steve has recently recommended friends diagnosed with cancer to Dr. Castillos at Personalized Hematology/Oncology, saying “It’s rare to find a group that has these three specialties all in one – and with their background and experience. They use a team to create specific meds for patients to best treat them.”

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