Your Neighbor: Meet Steve Ford

Published 12:05 am Thursday, June 22, 2023

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By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Steve Ford grew up in Asheville, Ohio, in a community that prided itself on all things that began with the letter’ f’ – football and farming.

“Being a smaller mid-western town, football was the backbone of the community and one of the sports that I played growing up,” Ford said. “I also enjoyed playing basketball and baseball too.

As an only child, Ford didn’t have to go far because he always had a friend nearby to play an organized pick-up game.

When Ford considered where to go to college, his obvious choice was to go to Ohio State University.

“I spent my first year at community college and then headed off to Ohio State,” Ford said. “Since I was paying for it, I buckled down and really got my grades up. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do career-wise. Being from a farming community, a lot of my friends were considering veterinary school. I knew that after my four years as an undergraduate, I would begin working. I never had any real desire to do anything additionally. I realized that after obtaining my degree, I could make my career anything I wanted it to be. A lot of my friends, after realizing how hard vet school is, came to that same conclusion too,” laughs Ford. “I graduated with a degree in communications and always found it to be useful.”

Ford began a longstanding career with Roush Performance Products, Inc. His work ethic and willingness to travel extensively impressed his employer as he continued to be promoted from within.

“I was always in sales in varying positions,” Ford said. “I was moved from Michigan to North Carolina in the early 2000s. I was one of the few single guys on the team that didn’t have anything tying me down to one area. Initially, I moved to the coast, which I enjoyed a lot for several years. After living in landlocked Ohio for most of my life, it was really nice to have such a change of scenery.”

With a fresh geographical perspective and thriving career, Ford knew he wanted to settle down personally, too.

“I met my wife, Shannon, while she was working for North Carolina State University,” Ford said. “We were one of the first success stories of online dating. Because I was traveling so much, I wasn’t home often. And when I was, I had a lot of stuff that I had to get done, so it was very helpful to utilize the online platform.

“We got married in 2008 and had our son, Luke (14), in 2009. Shannon’s parents lived two hours away from us during that time. They realized how much they missed their grandson, and so we began looking for ways to move closer to them. We moved to the Winston-Salem area when he was about two years old.”

Ford has loved watching Luke mature and hit major milestones.

“We’ve had some really special experiences over the years,” Ford said. “Watching him grow up and become a man is something I can’t even describe. I see a lot of myself in him, and I love watching him navigate life. He and I both share a passion for golf, and he’s become very involved with it at both his school and outside of it.

“It’s cliché, but no matter how good or bad you are at golf, it gives you somewhat of a background to get involved in other areas of your life. I’ve done a lot of business deals and cultivated friendships through playing golf. Luke and I always have plenty to discuss around the sport.”

As the Ford family enjoyed immersing themselves in their new community, they found it especially critical to them in March 2018.

“I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer,” Ford said. “I began undergoing various chemotherapy treatments that year. I was then recommended to have surgery later that year in December to eradicate the tumor and get back on my feet. When the doctors went to do the surgery, they found that it had spread in my body. They determined it would be hard to keep track of because of how it was all over my body.

“The recommendation was to do various chemotherapy treatments because I was never going to be in remission. I knew I wanted to fight it and do whatever it took. In January 2019, I began chemotherapy treatments with different pills and 70-plus infusions. I’ve probably done over 500 days of oral chemotherapy treatments.”

Ford continues to keep his outlook and perspective positive.

“I told Shannon early on in my prognosis, I used to go into the rooms with dozens of other patients who seemed in worse shape than myself,” Ford said. “Maybe God gave me the worst of it because I can tolerate it. I always felt that was a reason it was me and not somebody else.

“Everyone, of course, has their good days and bad days. I have never felt that it wasn’t something I could overcome if I followed the doctor’s orders. I take my treatments the way I’m supposed to, eat the things I’m supposed to. I still feel that way even though the prognosis is not good. After spending about a month doing radiation to my liver, the doctors recommended stopping. They said it was doing more harm than good at this point. My medical team recommended going home to step aside from the fight. When I left the hospital, I was told that I had months to live.”

Despite receiving crushing news, Ford continues to keep a positive outlook on life and his prognosis.

“The one thing I’ve found out about cancer is that just when you think you’ve got something figured out, it will throw you a curve ball,” Ford said. “You have to regroup your thoughts. If you don’t fight it, you might as well give up. That is not in the cards for me.”

Part of not giving up includes having a tremendous support system in his family.

“Shannon has been there every step of the way,” Ford said. “I know I could not have done that without her. She monitors what’s coming to the house, and we’ve been cared for by some incredible people with meals and treats. The word has gotten out that I like sweet treats, and there is always something delicious in the form of a snack pack or meal from a friend or neighbor. It has really helped brighten our days with all the thoughts and compassion from others. People will offer to take us to doctor’s appointments too. Luke has also stepped up in a big way. He’s done more than his fair share for a kid his age. He has been so attentive to me and what I need.”

Ford continues fighting to spend as much time with his family and friends as possible.

“I’ve loved having people stop by for visits and being able to share and reflect on our memories together,” Ford said. “Our dog, Booker, has been there for those visits and provided additional emotional support. We had not intended on getting a dog the weekend he came home with us, but fate worked out differently. It’s incredible how intuitive he has been through this process, and his 9 pounds of unconditional love and support have really lifted my spirits.

“Appreciating what really matters in life, and these moments help me so much. It’s not in my wheelhouse to appreciate all of these kind gestures bestowed upon us, but I am so very grateful for them and my family.”