Steve Davey is a seventy-year-old married father of two grown sons – Justin, who has been a firefighter and paramedic and now works in the medical field, and Chris who is in law enforcement. Steve and his wife, Becky also have one grandson and another one on the way. At a time of his life when he should be thinking about enjoying retirement and looking forward to spending quality time with his family, Davey is fighting several life-threatening illnesses.
Davey spent thirty-six years teaching and coaching in Hernando County. In his career, he taught at West Hernando Christian School, Hernando Christian Academy, and Springstead High School. Through many of those years, he has battled Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a liver disease that causes chronic and long-term damage to the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. He was diagnosed with PSC twelve years ago.
Prior to this diagnosis, Davey had Stage Four colon cancer, something few people survive. If that wasn’t enough, Davey had a heart attack in 2013 and underwent heart bypass surgery. Throughout these ordeals, he continued to teach and coach.
Now, Davey and his family face another challenge. Two months ago he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He had surgery and is now undergoing chemotherapy. Most people would have given up long ago, but not Davey. An ordained minister, he says that his faith sustains him.
“God isn’t done with me yet. I still have former students that contact me from time to time to ask for advice.”
One student stated, “He puts everyone else ahead of himself. Words can’t describe what kind of teacher he is.”
It’s obvious that the feeling is mutual.
“My students are my priority. They are my kids,” Davey remarks.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, this dedicated teacher was still in his classroom at Springstead High School almost every morning, hours before the first bell. However, because of the pandemic and his health issues, Davey was forced to retire this year.
Now, he is home coping with his myriad health issues and waiting for a liver transplant. It may be a long wait. Sometimes emergency cases get bumped to the head of the line. Then there is the issue of finding a match.
“You have to be practically dying to get priority,” Davey states.
His fellow teachers came to his aid eight years ago during his battle with PSC. Davey had used up his sick leave between frequent trips to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and time spent at home recuperating from treatments, so his co-workers appealed to the school board to allow them to donate their unused sick leave to him. The school board granted their request.
He has also received financial support from an organization called Help Hope Live. This 501c(3) non-profit corporation allows people to make tax-deductible contributions on Steve’s behalf. He can then apply for the funds to pay for operations, medications and other expenses. Anyone interested in contributing to Davey’s fund can call 1-800-642-8399 or visit www.helphopelive.org and enter Steve Davey in the Find a Patient box on the homepage.
The emotional, as well as the physical and financial toll, on Davey and his family from facing so many challenges at one time have been tremendous. Prior to contracting colon cancer at age forty-five, Davey was in excellent physical shape. In addition to coaching various sports, he enjoyed playing softball, baseball and golf.
“Now, every day I try and accomplish things around the house, but often I start something and forget and start something else. Then I end up taking a long time to complete them. Sometimes they don't get done at all. I do read and enjoy a movie here and there,” says Steve.
His wife, Becky, worked in a local doctor’s office for twenty-five years, but now she has had to quit her job to become Steve’s caregiver. This has left her without company-provided medical insurance for herself.
Steve’s disease has caused brain fog because of memory loss and failure.
“My boys and wife, I'm sure, were frustrated because I would not remember what they just told me. To date my family is still having to cope with my inability to think clearly and remember things.”
Despite everything, Steve is not giving up hope and takes one day at a time. His immediate family and extended family, his friends, the people at the Mayo Clinic and his students cheer him on. He also has a new grandchild to look forward to next year. He affirms over and over that God has sustained him through the past twenty-five years and helped him to beat the odds several times.
“I need to stay strong for my family,” Steve concludes.
Davey is just one of thousands of people in the United States who are waiting for organ transplants and the solution is within everyone’s reach. All it takes is registering on the following website: www.organdonor.gov. Inform your family so that they can support your wishes and have the information noted on your driver’s license. You can make your death count for something by giving life to another individual.
Article revision: This article was revised to state that Davey was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, not stage 5. 12/1/2020