Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | November 21, 2013

Mike Stevens Music and Tribute

Mike Stevens, Palomar Mountain

Most of you knew Mike, but even if you didn’t, I believe the song and poetry from his service could touch many people.  He loved his family, the Mountain and the Cause he lead so well, as the spokesperson for the California Lung Cancer Alliance.

It was very special to learn that the song that began Mike’s service was found in his I-pod:  Click to hear Go Rest High on that Mountain

The poem below was read by the author, and a friend committed to continue his legacy with the Alliance:

From: Kathleen MacFarlane

Mike Stevens, Remembered

By Kee MacFarlane, September, 2013

Tall, gangly soldier,

you were drafted into leadership by catastrophe;

by a death sentence said to be imminent.

You were a big-grin, California dreamin’

kind of guy before cancer’s bomb blast.

“Cancer?”, you said, “I knew nothing, nada.”

But you saw the ugly face of your opponent.

and declared war.

Armed with inherent smarts, tenacity, the Internet,

and enough charm to win allies everywhere,

you set out to take on the beast.

You sold your business, settled your affairs,

and braced your family for battle.

You began gathering an army,

collected doctors who were up for a good fight,

and marched ahead.

Lung cancer’s chilling survival odds

are paralytic;

stopping most newcomers in their tracks,

you powered on.

“It’s a statistic, don’t dwell,” you preached.

You buried yourself in information,

strapped on the shoes of public service,

and found a home in the Lung Cancer Alliance.

When you discovered that this cancer’s

lack of funding for research and treatment

was related to the stigma of smoking

(despite its standing as cancer’s biggest killer),

your indignation carried you onward for years.

But, unlike some others affected directly,

you never responded with rage or self-pity,

“I didn’t smoke either”; you’d say, “Let it go.”.

While cancer stalked you all those years,

you lived your huge life;

one adventure, one accomplishment,

one hug at a time.

Building your hideaway on Palomar Mountain,

traveling, fishing, hunting, camping with pals,

sustained by your beloved family;

you were teaching us all how to live.

“Life is short; don’t let cancer steal the fun.”

Even as you lived large and fought for the survival of others,

you also fought for your own life.

You became a fearsome warrior;

found people who were fighting the battle in other places,

and followed the research with your warrior doctor.

You volunteered for dangerous outposts;

scouting for available trials and experimental weaponry.

“You gotta keep your next treatment options handy

for when the current one fails.”

You were cut, radiated, scanned, toxified and cyber-knifed.

As the enemy advanced and threatened various parts of you,

you dug in. “I give no ground; it’s trying to kill me again.”

You endured procedures and drugs

that made you so ill you said you thought you might die.

“Just kidding”, you’d say later, “Life is good; bring it on.”

That year you showed up for your relay fund-raiser,

pain visible in your eyes, and a smile visible above your neck brace,

you said, “Hospital? Maybe later. This is my baby and, right now,

we’re gonna walk this thing if it kills us.”

You ARE Gladys-the-Chicken,

(you loved that nickname); the last hen still standing,

dodging, flying and hiding under the porch at year’s end

when the coyotes got all the rest.

You are the flag that waves ahead,

high above the front lines for us to see.

You are the marching boy, playing the piccolo, beating the drum.

You are the poster child for grabbing what you’ve got

and making it count.

Cancer may have taken you before your time

but you know you won this war;

the war you were probably sent here to fight.

You became the one we point to, look to, learn from;

the one we tell about to the new ones,

to the shell-shocked, or the ones who’ve lost hope.

Have you heard about Mike? Have you heard him speak?

Here’s what he always said about that.

Your legacy lives not only in your family

but in those of us who live on to fight your fight.

Here, where your voice is still heard above the din,

where your inspiration spurs us forward,

and your spirit and humor make us so grateful

that you managed to stay among us for so long.

Your big heart outlives the war-weary body you leave behind.

It lives inside the thousands you touched, you taught,

you represented, you brought hope.

If, as they say:

“Those who live in the hearts of others will never die”,

then you are still…  right…  here.

Author’s note: I am a retired social worker, a writer and lung cancer patient. I found Mike at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center when I was first diagnosed, two and a half years ago — at a time when my prognosis looked bleak and I was very discouraged. I told him that it looked like I was going to die. He said, “We’re all going to die, it’s part of the deal. It’s how you decide to live between now and then that matters.”

Meeting him changed my outlook entirely; having him in my life since then has been an immeasurable blessing. He taught me to live without bitterness or regret. He always made me laugh. He taught me compassion for those who didn’t understand or chose a different way to cope. He taught me how to inspire others and to live in gratitude. Over and over, I have seen him do for others what he did for me. My best way to thank him is to continue his legacy.  Kathleen MacFarlane

See also Friends of Mike Stevens

Go Rest High on that Mountain


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