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Man dealing with financial strain after fighting cancer, asking community for help

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Posted at 9:22 PM, Oct 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 18:14:59-04

Justin and Isabel Steadman live for the little moments in life, like spending a quiet afternoon at home playing with their 3-year-old daughter, Indi.

It's one of the simple joys they feared losing when doctor's told Justin he was sick.

"I went to the doctor because my side was a little swollen," Justin said. "He ran some tests and a few days later I got a phone call saying he thinks that it was leukemia."

After seeing another specialist, Justin was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in June of 2015. 

He spent weeks in the hospital going through treatment. It's where he spent his Father's Day and his wedding anniversary.

"We were both angry," Isabel said. "But I think as time went by, it kept bringing us closer and closer and closer."

Justin was on chemo medication for years. Other than a few side effects his treatment was working well, up until February of this year.

His blood levels were dropping fast, forcing him to go to the hospital for transfusions several times a month. His doctor suggested he get a bone marrow transplant.

After finding a donor, he received the transplant in June of 2018.

"It brings a little more peace but I still feel nervous," Isabel said. "It's still scary because we don't know if it's going to continue to get better."

This is the best Justin has felt in a long time, but the fight for his life has come at a cost.

He and his family lived off their emergency fund before going through their entire checking and savings accounts to cover his treatment.

"It was frustrating," Justin said. "I don't even want to go out to the mailbox sometimes because I know there's going to be a bill there from a lab or a doctor."

While the fear of money hangs over Justin's head, he's not letting it get the best of him.

He said that as long as he has his family by his side, everything will be okay.

"I wouldn't be able to do it by myself," Justin said. "We just have a positive outlook. We try to avoid the negative and try not to let the world steal this little bit of joy that we have."

"Looking back, it was a nightmare," Isabel said. "I'm just grateful that he's here."

Justin said he should be able to go back to work in the next few months with his doctor's approval.

In the meantime, his family has set up a GoFundMe to cover his medical costs. Not 24 hours after our story aired, someone made a $10,000 donation.

He and his wife will also welcome their second daughter into the world this December.

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