November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I would like to take this time to tell you a little bit about a man that impacted my life. This man was Steve Caswell.
I first met Steve as part of an interview for a position at his company. Being an extremely busy man, he only had a few minutes to devote to the interview process. He struck me as the type of person that was extremely smart and definitely one that demanded to be the center of attention. Later as I got to know him, he was always one that would calm any disagreements and would become the moderator who would make it a win/win situation for all no matter how the disagreement began. It would end with everyone working together as part of the same team as it should have been.
Steve was a modest person, even calling himself a “dumb plumber,” never boasting of his talents or knowledge although he was one of the owners of the company. He graduated at the top of his class in the Engineering Field, so he was anything but a “dumb plumber!” He wore a lot of different “hats” in his position. Not only did he handle the day to day operations, but he had several side businesses.
Most importantly, Steve was a family man with five children and a wife that he adored. He had strong faith and did not hesitant to share it with others. He would do random acts of kindness for individuals with one example being to help fund someone’s college tuition when the person wasn’t sure how they would be able to go to college or complete the year due to finances. Steve did all of these acts of kindness without wanting any recognition at all. He preferred to remain anonymous with only the individual knowing that their needs had been met.
Steve organized trucks and manpower from the state of South Carolina to drive through the night to help hurricane victims when Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana. He did not just pay for supplies and send the people. Steve was among those working and serving to help others in need.
I had the privilege of working with Steve for ten years. One of the biggest things that stuck with me the most about Steve was his faith. Not only did he say it, but he put actions behind his words. He was a believer, and he did not hesitant when the opportunity arose to share his faith with others.
Steve was diagnosed with non smokers lung cancer on December 11, 2007. Although Steve began to struggle due to his health declining, Steve still had strong faith. He had a page on the Caring Bridge site where he wrote his thoughts during his illness. He was not one to complain, but rather, he would write encouraging words, often quoting scriptures in what he would write. He knew that others were reading, and he wanted to leave behind words to uplift and help people hold on. His words were a living testimony. He truly walked by faith at that time. He never gave up, even in the mist of suffering. He clung tightly to his Jesus.
The doctors only gave Steve six months to live, but because Steve was a fighter, he managed to hold on for ten months. Even in his final days when he was really struggling, he made several telephone calls to people to make sure that if there were any wrongs, he was going to make it right while he still had time. Further, if you went to encourage Steve with your words, he would always find a way to turn it around to where he was the one speaking to your heart encouraging you in life despite his struggles. He made one such call to me, and I will never forget the call that I received on Labor Day weekend.
I was lucky enough to visit with Steve one last time in the hospital when he had gotten really bad. I was only allowed a few minutes, but I wanted to let Steve know how much he meant to me. When I asked what I could do to help, his only response was to pray for them. A lot of people say that they will do it, but I took that opportunity to pray with him right there that very moment in that hospital room. That is something that will forever stay with me.
When I went to leave his hospital room, we waved as we always did. The look in his eyes let me know that this would be the very last time that I would see my friend, boss, and mentor. Steve passed away the very beginning of October in 2008.
Steve impacted so many people’s lives, as evident by the Celebration of Life Service that was held in Steve’s memory. They played a video of his life with his children, his wife, and with his parents and brother. They showed this so we could all remember Steve in this way and not how we last saw him in the hospital. Our last memories of Steve were with him laughing and enjoying life with his family. The way it should be.
I wanted to share Steve’s story with you today, especially since November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. As noted above, Steve had non smokers lung cancer. Some people do get this rare type of cancer; however, if you are using any type of tobacco product, I would like to encourage you to kick the habit if at all possible. Get as much help as you can when you’re trying to get rid of this bad habit, but please stop the use of any type of tobacco product. They contain harmful chemicals that will affect your health.
For me, personally, I used to chew tobacco. I tried to quit several times but used the excuse that the stresses in life caused me to go back to this nasty habit. However, when I truly got serious about it, and I wanted to rid myself of this habit, I found that I did have a support team that would encourage me and help me along the way – none other than my very own family: my wife and my children.
Steve was a health nut prior to his diagnoses. He worked out and ate right, yet he still got this rare form of cancer. It opened my eyes to the fact that I was putting harmful chemicals into my body and needed to stop. The sooner the better! And any time I picked this habit back up, Steve would come to mind, and I knew that this was not something that I needed to be doing. Thankfully, I have kicked this habit once and for all. You can, too, no matter what tobacco product you are using!
Your life is precious. Consider kicking whatever bad habits you may have to prolong your life and ensure many more days of laughter and joy with your family. They’re worth it!
A Tribute To Steve Caswell was written by Dusty … Shirley’s husband. Dusty is a huge Elvis fan, a real cowboy, and my hunka-hunka-burning love. 🙂