No mountain is too high for Stevin Tuchiwsky. Despite facing cancer at a very young age, Stevin has taken the reigns on his life and pledged to live it to the fullest.
We first met Stevin in the Spring 1994 issue of Lethbridge Living. “Stevin’s Song” shared the story of how Stevin’s experience as the poster child for the Lethbridge and District Cancer Society gave him something to look forward to. He was eight years old at the time, and he’d already faced challenges no young child should face. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1991, at only five years old.
Stevin fought his way through multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, all the while never giving up hope. At one point his cancer advanced to the fourth stage, yet Stevin stayed positive by making others around him laugh. When he started to lose his hair and some of the older children at school called him “baldy”, he was not discouraged. Instead he responded by joking, “Hey everybody, I can pull my hair out without even crying!”
“It was a pretty tragic experience but, not to downplay it, but I feel like everyone has hardships in life that they go through that you may or may not know, whether it be disease or relationship or family or whatever,” says Stevin. “But I had a lot of support from family and the Children’s Hospital in Calgary was amazing… I think it was a combination of great resources and family and working through it and keeping busy. It really helped put the cancer portion on the back side of my mind and to focus more on the positivity of something that can be so impactful.”
Stevin’s cancer went into remission in October 1992. But that wasn’t his final battle. He had a relapse at the age of 15 with a benign tumor in his ribs that had to be removed.
“That was a scary flashback for me,” says Stevin. “But it wasn’t nearly as involved as when I was five when I was doing treatments, chemo and radiation and more expansive surgeries. But it still was an uncomfortable time, I guess you could say.”
Through the rough times, Stevin learned the value of leaning on loved ones and not giving up. He also learned that we are never guaranteed time. Never one to sit still, Stevin embarked on following his dreams anywhere his heart could take him.
After graduating from LCI, Stevin moved to British Columbia and explored pushing his limits in sport. He became a professional mountain bike athlete and competed for four years. “That was a pretty cool dream to live,” says Stevin. “All young adults have some sort of dream to aspire to, so that was me kind of living out that one.”
At the age of 23, Stevin moved back to Lethbridge to pursue post-secondary education. He set his sights on the Civil Engineering Technology diploma at Lethbridge College and began his career as a Civil Engineering Tech in Lethbridge.
“In that time, I also took up photography as well,” he says. “So, I started that and pursued it alongside my day job as well. It just kind of expanded into what it is now.” And “what it is now” is an adventure for Stevin.
He’s landed several outdoor and travel clients including Travel Alberta, Castle Mountain, Merrell and Eddie Bauer. His photos have been featured in magazines such as National Geographic Traveller, National Geographic Adventure, Backpacker, and Country Living, among others.
Stevin’s been pursuing photography for eight years, alongside his day job, and he’s never taken a class. “I’m all self-taught besides the help of the internet and really patient friends answering my questions,” he says. “It’s been awesome the experiences and the people I’ve gotten to work with and travel as well.”
Now working as a Civil Engineering Tech for a large firm based in Calgary, Stevin is focused on living his best life. Residing in Calgary has been a good base for his photography work with the mountains just a quick drive away. He can hop in the car every weekend to find the perfect backdrop for his creations.
“I really like getting outside,” he says. “I think some of the inspiration is from the battle I had in the past and just utilizing life now and taking advantage based on the experience I had.”
At 33 years old, Stevin is humble about his accomplishments, but he hopes he can provide a resource for others going through difficult situations. “So, they can say, ‘Hey look I can do this too.’ If I’m going through a hard time, there’s other things I can focus on to try to take my mind off that or make myself happy.”
When asked if he could share some advice for people, big or small, facing difficult situations, Stevin stressed the importance of leaning on those who support you the most and finding interests that make you happy.
“I think you just have to have the ambition to do that,” he says. “It can certainly help you push through things and learn new things about yourself or what’s achievable and applying that to meet a goal. I mean, that’s kind of the whole sense of life in general. If you have something to look forward to, that makes it easier.”