What’s more savage than submitting an extremely rare, aggressive form of cancer? Beating it a second time, which is what one brown belt and his jiu-jitsu community are currently hellbent on doing. Steve Springer, a father, husband, and one of those relentlessly positive mat rats who lights up the gym, just made the 1100 mile trek from New Orleans to Sloan Kettering to face Alk-positive Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL)…again. But this time around his black belt coach, Charles Haymon of New State Fitness, needs help making sure Steve and his family can keep the mortgage paid and food on the table while Dad undergoes a radical treatment far from home.
Springer is currently prepping for an “Autologous Stem Cell Transplant.” The GoFundMe page for the grappler explains just how serious a match this one is going to be:
“Unlike traditional donor transplants, this process will harvest Steve’s own stem cells from his bone marrow. He will then be given a high dose of chemotherapy that will kill his stem cells and almost every white blood cell in his body. The harvested stem cells can then be transplanted back into his body, allowing for new blood cell production.
This is a high risk, and incredibly tough procedure for Steve and his family. Killing off his immune system will leave him at risk of a life threatening infection. A very sick Steve will lose all of his hair (again), and need to be isolated. Linda will have to be with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week, supporting him and keeping records for the transplant team. The hardest part may be that Steve will have to be separated from his 3-year-old son Tommy for the 2-3 months he’s going through all this.
This process will continue into 2020. Steve could be immunocompromised for at least a year after the transplant. He will still need medications and follow up visits with his doctors in New York. Even after all this, there is no guarantee that the cancer will not come back, but this is Steve’s best hope.”
Springer first took on cancer in 2017, completing six rounds of chemo before successfully hitting remission. But this past June a new lump was found, setting off another cascade of nightmare medical bills. For the last four months, Springer has been undergoing treatment while continuing to train, tapping out some black belts who didn’t even know their opponent was fighting two battles at once.
“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is one of the best of us,” says Professor Haymon. “Always cheerful and positive, he loves building others up. Steve is usually the last person to leave the mat, whether he’s helping out teammates, or getting tips from the upper belts who gravitate towards his positive energy.”
Here’s the link to donate again in case you missed it above.
Also? Steve would love the chance to train with Danaher and the Death Squad at Renzo Gracie’s while he’s up in NYC–because who doesn’t think about training when they’re in the middle of a life or death battle with rare cancer–so if you’re someone with gym connections, do the right thing a get this guy a spot on those famous blue mats.