January 9, 2003
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Dan Katz-Stein, with his daughter Hana in 2000. Friends will host a benefit dance for the Katz-Stein family Friday, Jan. 10, 7:30–11:30 p.m., at the Moving Arts Studio.

Fundraiser for Dan and Abi Katz-Stein—
Event to offer support, chance to dance

Since he first faced a life-threatening illness almost seven years ago, Dan Katz-Stein has learned many things. He’s learned, following brain surgery, how to speak and walk again, how to do countless small things he once took for granted.

He’s learned every moment is precious.

He’s learned that the fear he sometimes feels can suddenly vanish, replaced with inexplicable feelings of warmth and caring. Consequently, he’s learned the healing power of love, especially the love of his family, friends and community.

“It’s invaluable,” Katz-Stein said recently about the support he’s felt from the community. “I know that I can trust that it will be there.”

Friends and acquaintances of Katz-Stein and his wife, Abi, have an opportunity to show support at a dance this Friday, Jan. 10, 7:30–11:30 p.m., at the Moving Arts Studio. The dance is a fundraiser for the Katz-Stein family, which, after years of cancer-free living, once again faces a health emergency, this time Dan’s aggressive brain cancer. All contributions above the $6 cost will go to the Katz-Stein family.

Community support is especially important, said the dance’s organizer, Caroline Stevens, because, like many in Yellow Springs, neither Dan nor Abi has family nearby. And, while insurance covers medical costs, the family faces other costs, such as travel expenses to Boston, where Dan’s brain surgeon practices, and the likely need for home health care.

“They have a long row to hoe,” said Stevens, a neighbor and, like Abi, a medical student at Ohio University. “They depend on neighbors and friends. We need to support each other.”

Following brain surgery in December, Dan Katz-Stein seemed to be making good progress, and agreed to an interview for this article. However, this week he faced a setback when he suffered seizures and doctors discovered a brain cyst. On Tuesday, he and Abi returned to Boston, leaving their children, Zach, a student at the McKinney School, and Hana, an Antioch School student, with friends. Although he could not do the interview, Katz-Stein invited those interested to read the online journal he’s been keeping at life.katzstein.com.

Dan’s first bout with brain cancer took place in 1995, when he experienced seizures. Tests revealed a brain tumor, although the tumor was a slow-growth variety and was removed by surgery, according to his online journal. A second, more aggressive, tumor was discovered in 1999, and a second surgery followed. Recovery from this surgery was extensive, and Katz-Stein didn’t return to his job at YSI Incorporated for over a year.

However, in 2001 he resumed a 30-hour work week, and with sufficient energy, he was running the household while Abi pursued her dream, entering medical school at the Ohio University School of Medicine.

In August 2002, Katz-Stein experienced the first full-body seizure he’d had for several years, according to his journal, and he knew the seizure could indicate a return of the cancer. However, initial tests showed nothing. Almost three months after the seizure, tests revealed an aggressive, fast-growing brain tumor. His Boston surgeon urged immediate surgery.

The six-hour surgery took place on Dec. 10 in Boston, and everything went well, Abi wrote in a journal entry. The tumor was removed, and Dan was, to his amazement, discharged from the hospital several days later.

However, tests revealed that the tumor was “rapidly growing and highly malignant,” Dan wrote later, and doctors recommended additional measures of chemotherapy and possibly radiation. Before the most recent setback, the Katz-Steins were considering the Cleveland Clinic as a possible site for the chemotherapy.

The last few months have been a roller-coaster of emotions, Dan said in his journal, with bouts of depression and fear. But through it all, he maintains a positive focus, always seeking to learn from his struggles and to be open to the love he feels around him.

Following the December surgery, Abi wrote, “I have felt so honored and blessed to be with him, to share this growth and knowing, to be witness. I wonder sometimes if he is rationalizing or denying, and then he will say something so profound and so true, that I am awestruck and dumbstruck. A few weeks ago he wrote that his soul is pure and even though his body is being chipped away, he knows that his soul will be untouched. He is living that daily. He says he is in a good place physically to begin this next set of treatments.”

After he discovered the cancer’s return this fall, Dan wrote that he felt “weary” of the struggle toward health. But, he said, “What keeps me going is love for my family and love exploration. I want to love Abi and enjoy our children’s growing lives.”

—Diane Chiddister