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Steve Andrews faces medical issues with faith, courage

By Kay S. Pedrotti Steven Andrews, who has been preparing for ‘normal retirement’ at the end of 2016, did not hesitate to reach out for prayers when he found himself facing a possible cancer diagnosis. ’That’s where my hope is – in the Lord,’ said the fire services leader for Barnesville and Lamar County. Not only did Steve and family let fellow members of their church, Calvary Baptist, know what he might be facing, he also called friends in as many different churches as possible. ’And the word got out, and now there are more people praying. I am very grateful to share this need with a bigger prayer base,’ he said with a grin. Back in January, Steve said, he began having some digestive problems and pain in his back and stomach. He went to his physician in Barnesville, Dr. Lee Woodall, who treated him with medication and sent him to Atlanta Gastroenterology in Griffin, where an endoscopy revealed ‘H. pylori,’ a bacterial condition affecting digestion. ’I got a little better after I changed my diet,’ said the chief. ‘I stopped all my hot sauces, and I had a real collection of different hot sauces that I used. Not any more.’ Even as the bacterial condition was treated, he was still feeling discomfort and pain in his back and the ‘girth’ of his abdomen, he said. Within the last seven or eight days, several different tests have been done including full lab work-up and CT scan. ’It was all done so fast thanks to Dr. Woodall,’ said Steve. ‘Usually with medical things, you have to scratch your way to help and wait a lot.’ Originally set up for the a university cancer unit, Steve is now anticipating connection with Cancer Centers of America in Newnan. His friend and fellow firefighter from DeKalb County, Darrell McDaniel, has been under treatment for a year and highly recommended CCA. ’I’ve talked to people at CCA in Chicago and Newnan, and they all sound like they really want to help me. They got back to me right away to let me know my insurance had been accepted – I asked him to say that again, so I could hear it twice, because I had that fear factor of not being able to get help because of acceptance or rejection of an insurance program.’ Tests have revealed a ‘mass’ on his pancreas, spots on his liver and an enlarged gall bladder, but there has been no biopsy to pinpoint a diagnosis. That’s coming up soon, he said. ’Meanwhile, I’m doing well, no nausea and other issues­just take some pain medicine to sleep at night. I have no concern about whether the fire service can get along without me – I have been training the full-time people in both departments and I am confident that assistant chief Douglas Matthews is going to be a great leader. The others are young and much more technologically savvy than I am, and it’s time for a lot of us older folks to step aside and let younger people lead who are better trained in computers and electronics and more involved with using the internet,’ he added. ’I expect the community and the governments to support Douglas as they have supported me, and maintain the solidarity that exists between the city and county fire services. Douglas has a passion for the job, like I do. They all – including Andrew Mercer, Josh Campbell, Bill Reeder and Joe Peters – will be able to run the fire department better than I did, could or had knowledge to do. We have ISO ratings of 4 and 5 because we work together, and the only reason the Macon-Bibb County Fire Service has a rating of ‘˜one’ is because they consolidated. ’I’m not trying to say that I couldn’t work as long as I wanted to – but the departments will be okay, regardless of whether I get that normal retirement or some other kind. I have a lot of support from the firefighters, my family and the community, and I am blessed to live in a place like Barnesville and Lamar County. I thank everyone for their prayers and concern.’ The chief was not joking about how he can work­as photographer Rachel McDaniel was taking pictures to go with the story, she commented she didn’t want to ask him to climb up on one of the big fire trucks for a different shot. ‘I can do that,’ he said. ’What? You think I can’t do my job?’ The only conclusion here is that he has indeed done his job and done it well.

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