Stephen French was born on Sept 6th, 1958 and raised in the community of New Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador. He was the eldest and only son of Julie and Gordon French followed by 4 sisters that he cherished. From a very early age he was well known in the community as one of the most talented individuals who could try his hand at pretty much anything. Steve loved to work on anything mechanical, you could always find him picking at an old vehicle in the yard or crawling up underneath a car on the side of the road, especially if it was for someone in need of a helping hand. Steve spent years working as an autobody mechanic in his hometown but eventually he discovered that his true passion was being on the water which led to his career as a Skipper on crab boats.
At the early age of 18 Steve met Mona who he always referred to as the love of his life, she was only 16 at the time but it was clear to those around them that they shared a love like no other and that they were truly meant to be together forever. Steve and Mona married young, started their family together and welcomed a son and two daughters. Later in life they were blessed again and welcomed 5 beautiful grandchildren.
Throughout the years one was never seen without the other, a true love story that could face anything this world could throw their way. On Feb 11th of 2011 this was never proven to be truer when Steve was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the first time. Although the family was heartbroken, they united and began to fight for Steve’s life. On March 15th he received his first chemotherapy treatment, this continued until Dec 30th 2011. He was hospitalized with many infections throughout that time frame, but his family and his faith continued to give him the strength he needed to fight. In March he began radiation followed by a cat scan that showed he was in remission. Steve and his family were beyond thankful as they parted ways with the amazing staff at the Health Sciences Centre hospital. He eagerly returned to work and the family all stood proudly as they watched him and his crew members pull away from the wharf to begin the season and a cancer free life.
At a routine checkup that August they received the devasting news that Steve’s cancer had returned, and unfortunately it had spread significantly. Once again with his family by his side he began to fight.
Over the next 9 years the family faced more chemo, more radiation, experimental drugs, 2 stem cell transplants, bone marrow transplants, many infections, a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Large B cell lymphoma and what they concluded to be known as Grey zone Lymphoma… this lead to more hospital stays than they could keep track of.
Steve and his family participated in the very first Light the Night fundraiser in St Johns, NL. Over the years he carried a lantern as both a survivor and as a patient. He was once interviewed by the LLSC and was quoted saying “our motto has aways been to keep the faith, stay strong and never give up! When we attended the first Light the Night I was in remission and we wanted to provide that inspiration to others on the same journey, to let them know there is hope and light. There are so many others going through cancer, and they understand that we are all in this together”.
Steve was undoubtedly one of the most selfless, caring, and inspirational individuals you could ever meet. If you had the privilege to meet him, you could never forget his kind eyes and his shy smile. His youngest daughter Chantille once asked him in a moment of frustration “Why you dad? You’ve never done anything but good on this earth …. Why is this happening to you? Steve softly replied “Why not me doll? Cancer has no reason, no justifications, all we can do is pray and continue to fight together as a family.” And that is exactly what the French family continued to do for years to come. Even when the family was told that Steve’s body was no longer responding to treatments and that his time here on earth with them would soon come to an end they gave thanks to the doctors and nurses that stood by them for 10 years. They believed that even though there was no cure to help Steve there was still hope to find a cure in the future.
Steve and his family believed and still do believe that fundraisers such as Light the Night can and will find a cure for blood cancers. In 2020 Team Steve organized a fundraising event at his daughter Chantille’s Barber Shop in the town of Dildo, NL, the family refused to let COVID-19 prevent them from contributing to a cause that they all felt so strongly about. That night Steve told his family that he wanted them to make him a promise, he asked that they promise to continue to support and believe in the LLSC’s mission and to continue to fight for others after he’s gone. They promised that they would and so they have.
On the morning of Dec 15th 2020 Steve was set free of his disease while surrounded by his loved ones in his home in Dildo, NL. Steve’s unwavering faith brought comfort to the people who loved him most and they continue to honor him each year by fundraising and participating in the Light the Night event.
“We trust and believe in LLSC as our father did. Our goal has never been to set a dollar amount, our goal is to find a cure and prevent someone else from losing their dad. This is how we honour our Father.” Chantille, Kayla & Mitchell.