Accounting professor faces long battle with lung cancer

Accounting professor faces long battle with lung cancer

by Desiree JacksonStaff Writer

Steve Shafer, assistant professor of accounting, recently underwent surgery to remove a small brain tumor while continuing his fight against lung cancer.

“The tumor was completely removed,” Shafer said. “The doctors are optimistic the problem was corrected.”

The news came as a shock to Shafer and the Simpson community. He had been at work right before the surgery and felt well.

The tumor was small and was contained to the lower left cerebellum of the brain.

After the tumor was removed, further diagnosis showed the cause of the problem. The brain tumor developed as a result of lung cancer. Shafer has a fairly common type of lung cancer, and the origins are hard to determine.

“I will begin chemotherapy and radiation the week after next on the source of the cancer,” Shafer said. “With this type of cancer, once it develops, you’re never really cured.”

There will always be a possibility that Shafer will continue to suffer from other tumors throughout his life. The lung cancer can be treated, but it can still affect the rest of his body. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with physical exercise can help alleviate this problem.

There has been an outpouring of student concern on campus as well as support from the Simpson community.

“I have had a wonderful response from the Simpson community,” Shafer said. “It is overwhelming at times. It makes it seem like things are well worth it.”

Shafer’s students have adjusted to the changes very well since the initial shock and disbelief. Simpson students and faculty remain optimistic about Shafer’s condition as well. They are positive the cancer can be beat.

“We tried to minimize the impact on students,” said Thomas Schmidt, assistant professor of management and chair of the Department of Business Administration. “Having different people teach changes the nature of the class.”

Simpson has placed three substitutes in Shafer’s classes. Shea Mears, adjunct faculty member; Jeri Richards, lecturer with the Division of Adult Learning; and Adam Voigts, assistant vice president for business services/controller, have been covering Shafer’s classes since the operation.

There has been a lot of good feedback about them substituting in his classes, and everyone has seemingly pulled together quickly.

“Everyone is willing to do what it takes to see him get better,” said Mark Juffernbruch, assistant professor of accounting. “The students are willing to get the work done.”

Even though he is supposed to have four weeks of rest, he has not been able to stay away from campus too long.

Shafer hopes to return to work on Feb. 8 and try to maintain a fairly normal teaching schedule. He is looking forward to coming back and teaching again.

Shafer notes that his family has been tremendous in helping him through the past couple of weeks.

“We have all agreed that this, perhaps, changes the order of what is important in life,” Shafer said. “Be positive about today and try not to get lost in the rat race of life.”

Shafer continues to recover and remains optimistic about the future. He is ready to get back into the classroom and working again.