Steve Spencer Finds Help and Hope After Treatments
By: Melody Spurney
Steve Spencer rolled his wheelchair into the Riordan Clinic in Overland Park in 2020 looking for help … and hope. He found both. In the spring of 2022, he finished a 5K and celebrated a family vacation in Hawaii and his younger daughter’s engagement.
Steve, 62, of Liberty, Mo., was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2019, and initially followed a traditional treatment path. A week after his diagnosis, he secured an appointment at the University of Kansas Medical Center to receive a whipple procedure, which removes part of the pancreas. Steve said the surgical team was unaware at the time that he was dehydrated, and the surgery was stopped an hour and a half after it started because his blood pressure was dropping. For more than two days, Steve said his condition was so uncertain that his family was encouraged not to leave the hospital.
“I got to be a guest at KU for about 14 days,” he said.
He did leave the hospital and had chemotherapy treatments for about four months. He and his wife, Miriam, decided to look for a more experienced surgeon to perform his follow-up surgery. They chose Duke University in North Carolina and Steve had a successful procedure that cleared evidence of cancer from his pancreas, although he discovered it had spread to his lymph nodes. He also emerged from the second surgery with kidney problems that required dialysis and contracted MRSA as well.
Steve tried chemotherapy a second time, but he wasn’t able to tolerate the treatment. By this time, the MRSA had settled in his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
“At that point, my traditional oncologist sent me home and said, ‘enjoy your last days,’” he said.
Steve and Miriam had begun investigating alternative options for cancer treatment when one of their daughters brought them information about the Riordan Clinic she received from her chiropractor.
By the time Steve arrived at the Riordan Clinic in Overland Park in January 2020, Dr. Lucas Tims said he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was so ill that he wasn’t sure there was much he could do to help him. Miriam, however, insisted Dr. Lucas try.
“He was in pretty rough condition,” Dr. Lucas said.
But Miriam was persistent.
“My wife has led this charge,” Steve said. “She has been a great champion for me. In fact, my primary care doctor said she earned her MD degree with me over the last 2 to 3 years.”
Dr. Lucas said he and Steve worked together on a treatment plan that included IV therapies, injections, mistletoe treatments, IV Vitamin C, and ozone, but the MRSA infection initially persisted, and Steve remained in the wheelchair. Dr. Lucas said it took almost four months before Steve showed any strong signs of improvement. At that point, he began to regain feeling in his legs.
Steve and Dr. Lucas said the ozone treatments and an antibiotic helped heal the MRSA. Dr. Lucas said he watched as Steve graduated from his wheelchair, to a walker, then a cane, and in the spring of 2022 walked a 5K.
“We parked the wheelchair in the garage, got rid of the handicap van, and I’ve been working out and exercising every day since,” Steve said.
In addition to his treatments, Steve said his family adapted to lifestyle changes as a result of their experience at Riordan Clinic. They focus on eating better, drinking clean water, taking supplements and have even put filters on their shower heads – something he said he shares with others at the clinic.
Steve said that after more than two years at Riordan Center the staff feels like family.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “They’ve always got smiles on their faces.”
One staff member in particular has made an impression on him. Emmy Gomez, Overland Park office manager, began working at the clinic after Steve began his treatment there. But from the beginning, he appreciated her positive attitude.
“She’s a happy person and just lives that. I thought, some people here could be wallowing in their own pity and upset and think, ‘How dare she be so happy when we’re sitting here with a cancer diagnosis,’ but it really does lift the emotions of the people that are here,” he said.
Today, Steve shows no signs of cancer, though he told Dr. Lucas not to tell him he is cancer free.
“I will never say that I’m in remission,” he said, recalling that his own mother died of colon cancer less than two months after she had been given an “all clear.”
He currently travels the 50 miles from his home to the clinic once a week for ozone and vitamin C treatments.
Steve said he often tells others who have been diagnosed with cancer or know someone who has about the Riordan Clinic.
“I kind of feel like God has left me here to provide hope for others and their families that get diagnosed with cancer. You can just kind of tell the first timers are a little apprehensive and scared and don’t know what to do and I try to ease that a little bit,” he said.
Steve and Miriam have two sons and two daughters and six grandchildren with two more expected to join the family in 2022. He will celebrate his 63rd birthday at the end of July.