Growing up, Floyd Stewart III, better known by friends and family as “Rock” was a normal and active preteen who loved to be outside. He liked riding bikes, shooting basketball and just hanging out with his friends. But one day, at the young age of twelve, Stewart’s life changed forever.
A cancerous tumor had been forming on his arm for a while and he didn’t know what it was. Stewart said he referred to his tumor-ridden arm as his “meaty” arm.
“I never knew what it was. I thought it was muscles forming because I was going through puberty,” said Rock. There was something definitely forming on Stewart’s arm, but it wasn’t muscle. Luckily for him, his concerned sister brought it up to their mother and his mother did what any caring mom would and got it checked out.
That was when the twenty-five year journey started. Stewart was diagnosed with cancer that year, 1989, and before he knew it he was on a plane to New York to go to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It was there that they made plans to amputate his arm, but Stewart said no. They obliged but continued on with the second step of their plan, which was to give him his first dose of chemotherapy.
“It was the worst,” Stewart said.
Stewart said the doctors never really talked to him much about the cancer because he was a child, but he knew they didn’t have much hope for him when the ‘Make a Wish’ foundation asked him a question.
“They didn’t ask me what I wanted to do before I die, they just asked what do I want to do more than anything in the world,” said Stewart.
Like any other young boy in that time era, Stewart loved Michael Jordan.
He was told he had six months to live but continued chemo, radiation and even had some surgeries.
His chemotherapy continued when he started school again at W.A Bass. He said he was grateful the school let him where his fat all day because he wasn’t comfortable with showing his baldhead resulting from all the chemo. A year passed, and then two, and then three and Stewart was in high school. He attended Pearl-Cohn high school where he graduated and even received a scholarship. It was called the ‘boot strap’ award and he won for writing a paper about overcoming obstacles…something he knew very well.
After high school, Stewart did attend college for a while but admits he started making some bad lifestyle choices.
“I had a lot of years that I didn’t suffer or was even dealing with cancer.” ”During that time not a perfect person made some mistakes. I thought I would never make it to 30…I was searching for something I could do in this world.”
Stewart said that he didn’t use his potential to the fullest and done some stuff he probably shouldn’t have, but that didn’t stop his family from being there for him.
“I’m thankful for a family that always supported me, even in my knucklehead days,” said Stewart.
Now Stewart is 37 years old. He still has the tumor and got his arm amputated three years ago.
“June 29, 2011…ever since that day…I’ve been in pain.”
Stewart is suffering from something called phantom pain. According to sciencedirect.com, phantom pain derive from phantom sensations which are described as perceptions that an individual experiences relating to a limb or an organ that is not physically part of the body. Stewart experiences such pain because he is an amputee. There are various forms of pain that occur with phantom pain such as aching, burning, cramping and sharp or shooting pain. Sometimes your limbs can even feel as if they are on fire.
“Every single day of my life I’m in pain. I don’t call it pain anymore. If you hurting in the same place for three years it’s not even pain anymore,” said Stewart.
But despite the phantom pain and occasional backaches, Stewart is able to wake up each day and live his life.
“I don’t let the pain dictate how I live. I don’t let it define me. I have my good days.”
Stewart said that being a father of three is what helps get him through.
“I was told when I started radiation I would never have kids. I know without a doubt if it wasn’t for those three kids y’all would be writing about me for another reason.”
His children are 4, 5 and 6 and he does it all for them. From giving them baths, to helping them with homework and even cooking, Stewart prides himself in being a full-time dad. He said, “To me it’s all about just being there for my kids. I feel like nobody can take care of them like I can. No disrespect to their mothers.”
In June of this year Stewart’s doctors told him about a pill called ‘votrient.’ He said that he has been with his team of doctors at Vanderbilt the whole way for 25 years, but when they introduced this pill to him something changed.
“Vanderbilt usually gives me the best option and I take it, think about it and then act on it but that last option didn’t sit well with me.”
Stewart said after doing some research on the drug he found some scary language that worried him.
“[The pill] had eight different side effects that led to death.”
That’s when he decided to do even more research and see what all his options were.
“I wanted to see if there was something out there my insurance couldn’t afford,” said Stewart.
He made the decision that he didn’t want money to be an option when it came to his health and so did his sister.
Last month his sister started ‘go fund me’ project to help Stewart get the treatment he wants.
Stewart would like to go to one of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The closest one to Nashville is located in Atlanta. He said he is not looking or a miracle and realizes that one procedure cannot fix him for life, but he just wants to take a chance.
“I’ve always listened to my doctors but something inside of me was telling me ‘don’t do this.”
Stewart says that God has kept him this long and he doesn’t want to chance it and die from a complication that could’ve been avoided.
“I just want to see my kids graduate.”
Stewart also said the campaign is not just about helping himself but other people too. His goal is $20,000 because Stewart says he wants it to be bigger than just him.
“God is going to do what he’s going to do with me but I think he wants me to help support somebody else.”
“You find out a lot about yourself helping somebody else,” he continued, “give in good faith and you’ll always get that back.”
Stewart also sells t-shirts to support his cause. The shirts read “Turn down for life,” a response to the popular saying and now pop song, “Turn down for what?” He says it not only applies to people with cancer, but for people who drink and drive, smoke, etc. He says that sometimes you have to turn down to save your life or the life of someone else.
If you would like to support Rock’s cause visit gofundme.com and search “Floyd Stewart.” He says no amount is too small and he also invites you to share the link.
If you would like to order a shirt Stewart can be reached at (615) 818-3547.