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Steve Dombek: An Unbreakable Spirit

Steve Dombek

“Unbreakable is my mantra, motto, or mindset for anyone going through a tough time. It reminds us that you/we/they got this, are strong, can persevere, believe, and are unbreakable.”

Steve Dombek
Multiple Myeloma

Steve Dombek’s relentless optimism and unbreakable spirit carried him through a double diagnosis of mastocytosis and multiple myeloma, and it’s those same characteristics that drive him to pass his wisdom and encouragement on to others who are going through a difficult time. Through his business, UnbreakableATX, Steve inspires others by sharing his story and giving back to the very foundation that assisted him and his daughter throughout his cancer journey.

“Unbreakable is my mantra, motto, or mindset for anyone going through a tough time,” said Steve. “It reminds us that you/we/they got this, are strong, can persevere, believe, and are unbreakable.”

Double Diagnosis

In July 2015, after experiencing chronic physical pain, Steve underwent several tests including a bone marrow biopsy, which revealed he had a rare blood disorder called systemic mastocytosis along with multiple myeloma, a cancer that begins in the plasma cells of the body, which are located in the bone marrow.

In the United States, only one in 132 people will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Researchers don’t know the cause of multiple myeloma but are making progress in understanding how plasma cells become cancerous.

Due to the rarity, Steve met with several doctors, but he couldn’t get the answers he needed or a treatment plan, until he turned to Jeff Yorio, M.D., at Texas Oncology–Austin Central.

“Systemic mastocytosis is a rare disease and along with multiple myeloma, it can make it difficult to diagnose and treat. But, thanks to our high caliber network of cancer centers, our comprehensive care teams coupled with Steve’s relentless energy and positivity, we were able to tailor a plan just for him for him to be successful.” said Dr. Yorio.

Dr. Yorio worked with John Mathews, M.D., at Texas Oncology-Medical City Dallas Blood and Marrow Transplant to create a treatment plan that was tailor-made for Steve. Since Steve was younger than most patients with systemic mastocytosis and multiple myeloma, and lives a healthy and active lifestyle, the two doctors recommended that he receive an allogeneic stem cell transplant at Texas Oncology– Medical City Dallas Blood and Marrow Transplant for the mastocytosis and high-dose chemotherapy to treat the myeloma. In April of 2017, Steve headed to Dallas, where he stayed for three months to receive his stem cell transplant. Throughout his treatment, Steve said that he was comfortable working with both Dr. Yorio and Dr. Mathews: “They’re both great doctors, and they’re both great people.”

About four years after his stem cell transplant, Steve was found to have a recurrence of his multiple myeloma, and started treatment again in April 2021. This has helped move his disease back into a remission as he continues to receive injections on a monthly basis to control the disease. In addition, he continues to have bone marrow biopsies to monitor his disease.

Unbreakable

Throughout treatment, Steve has had a one-track mindset – to continue to be the best father to Cora, his daughter, and continue to travel with her and show her the world. However, telling a child about your cancer diagnosis presents its own challenges. So, Dr. Yorio introduced him to the Flatwater Foundation, a program that provides therapy to individuals and families coping with a cancer diagnosis and, in turn, Steve found his calling.

In 2019, Steve supported one of his friends involved in the foundation at the annual 21-mile stand-up paddleboarding event known as Dam That Cancer. While still battling cancer, Steve completed the entire 21-mile distance as a stand-up paddler without sitting, falling, or kneeling, an experience he now describes as “overwhelmingly positive.”

Moved by the organization and mission, Steve created and donated 200+ hats, each with the word, unbreakable, and a symbol of a wing sewn on the front. Now, he sells his hats and operates a part-time business called UnbreakableATX, with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the Flatwater Foundation. The first year that Steve donated funds from his hat sales to the organization, he was the leading fundraiser for the Flatwater Foundation. He plans to continue creating impact-centered merchandise and partnering with others to make “thoughtful clothing,” designed for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

All for Her

Steve says that his 10-year-old daughter is the reason behind all that he does: “She gives me my drive, she gives me my energy, she’s it.”

Steve and Cora often travel together, as he believes in the importance of her experiencing as much as possible while she’s young. The two have an unbreakable bond and, more importantly, an unbreakable spirit. Steve’s message to people is to get your cancer screenings early and often, especially if you are at higher risk of cancer due to family history. Steve is thankful and feels fortunate that his cancer was caught early – and isn’t slowing him down anytime soon.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.