SM East grad turns battle with cancer into book with hope for others

Jonathan Stepp had a book signing for Pigeon on a Hill at Hattie's Coffee in Prairie Village on Saturday.
Jonathan Stepp had a book signing for Pigeon on a Hill at Hattie’s Coffee in Prairie Village on Saturday.

A pain that Jonathan Stepp first felt as an SM East junior running a cross country race in 2007 turned into a battle with cancer that serves as the focus of Stepp’s first book, Pigeon on a Hill.

Stepp found out three weeks after that race that the pain was caused by a malignant tumor in his tibia. His typical 17-year-old’s life was quickly upended as he traded socializing and studying for English tests for the discomfort of chemotherapy. Nearly a year after he was first diagnosed, Stepp finished his treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics and was declared cancer free. He’s been in remission ever since.

Stepp said he realized early on that his experience fighting cancer could serve as a beacon of hope for others in similar situations. He worked on the book throughout his time in college. Now, some six years later, he’s had the book published.

“After my first couple rounds of chemo, I thought maybe there was something I could do to help others through the process,” he said. “That’s what planted the seeds.”

Though the book focuses on his experience with cancer, he said he hopes it offers help for people going through all sorts of challenges.

“If somebody is going through cancer, or another life trial, I want them to be able to take it and see if any part of it could apply to their life,” he said. “Some of it’s faith-based. Some of it’s not. I want the takeaway to be something that’s going to build someone up.”