"Steve Pieters" Minding Hope Series
Minding Hope Series
Media: Color Print from Digital Image
On April 4, 1984 Steve was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma and AIDS - and was given eight months to live. Prior to that diagnosis he had been serving as a pastor of the Metropolitan Community Churches and was active in promoting gay rights when he became very sick with GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency).
Before the first medical treatments became available, Steve employed his own methods for combating the disease, which included prayer, meditation, nutrition, music and laughter. In April 1985 he became the first AIDS patient to be put on the first clinical trial of an antiviral drug. That drug eventually proved deadly for other AIDS patients. For Steve, it nearly killed him - but also put his cancers into remission.
During the next ten years, Steve served as a counselor, a pastor and a chaplain. He traveled throughout the world sharing with others his experiences and insights about grief, hope, and surviving AIDS. Now retired, Steve, a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, says he finds joy in each day.
Recently looking back on that day in April, 1984, “I cried and cried,” he said, as he confronted his fear of dying. “...it was in the midst of that horrible plunge into despair that I suddenly felt God’s presence more strongly than I’d ever felt it before. I looked up through my tears and saw all these dear friends surrounding me with compassion and love.” A huge I Love Lucy fan, Steve and his friends then watched the Vitameatavegamin episode. “We ordered pizza and followed that up with big bowls of ice cream.”
“Now, 36 years later, as we remember the AIDS epidemic and face a new, life-threatening virus,” Steve said, “it's important to remember to bring hope in the face of hopelessness - and hope comes from taking action to be fully alive.”