As Funny as a Brain Tumor! Part 15

The next morning, our last day in Disney, I woke up to my kids talking to each other.  I sat up in bed and just looked at them.  There voices sounded normal.  I couldn’t believe it. Matter of fact, I didn’t believe it. I put on the radio, it sounded normal. I was so excited and happy but I still didn’t say anything to my wife because I was afraid I was mistaken. “What if it was still messed up? Let’s not get overly excited, Steve”, I thought to myself.

About 15 minutes later I told my wife. I then shared with her the whole story about the prayer I had prayed the night before.  She didn’t seem surprised.  I was shocked and in awe that God had actually performed a miracle for me and answered my prayer.  She just smiled and said “Of course, he does that all the time”. I just looked at her amazed at her faith.  “Not like this!” I said.  We went home to New Hampshire later that day and I was one happy camper.

For the last five years things have gone pretty smoothly.  Normal life stuff. Nothing to write a blog about.  I’m happy about that!  I don’t know the why behind all the things in this story and I doubt I ever will but part of me thinks this last story was so very important to me and my journey.

You see, as you could probably tell as you read the story, I was growing increasingly more and more negative.  Many times I doubted if God existed.  Other times, I thought “Well if he does exist, he’s kind of a jerk!”.  Other times,  I thought “Well, if he does exist, he could care less about me!”.  I know many of you who are reading this might be thinking it was just a coincidence and God had nothing to do with it.  I just happened to pray that prayer the night before my hearing was to return to normal.  Believe me, many times I have even thought that myself.  But I keep coming back to that prayer that I said. I laid it all out like I never had before.  I told him that if I were to see him work immediately then there would be no question in my mind.  He did exist and he does care about me. He is involved in my life and working and moving.  The next morning, I woke up and was cured.  You might think it was a coincidence but I like to believe it was something else.

Since that time in 2005, life has been good.  My girls are getting bigger everyday.  I’ve had many fun and happy times with them. More than I can count.  I’ve had great times with my wife who is my best friend. We bought a house that we all love and feel lucky to live in.  I feel very grateful and fortunate.

I had someone ask me once if I had any regrets?  Would I go back and change something from my past if I had the power to do so?  Without even thinking about it I said “No”. I wouldn’t change a thing. Brain tumor, cancer, bacterial meningitis, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, headaches, shunt and even depression.  Those things have all worked to make me who I am today.  They have all brought me to this place.  It feels good to be here.  I don’t want to leave this place.  I’m afraid that if I were to change one thing in the past then that would change where I am today and who I am right now.  I like this place. No thanks. I’ll stay right here.

I’m not sure what the future holds.  I’m not sure if I’m out of the woods yet.  I pray daily that none of my girls take after me with health issues.  That’s my biggest fear.  Every time one of them says they have a headache I get scared.  I’m hopeful though. It’s out of my hands.  There is nothing I can do. About me and my future or about them and their futures. All we can do is the best that we can and at a certain point we all come to a point where we are too weak to handle things ourselves.  Some people never get to that point until they are lying on their deathbed.  Some people have too many of those moments through out their lives.  I do believe that if we can look at those moments with the right perspective we can learn a lot about ourselves and the people around us.  There were many times during this story that I thought I was cursed.  Now as I write this story out, I have a different view, maybe I am blessed and not cursed, maybe I am one of the luckiest people on earth.  I think it’s a matter of perspective.

Like I wrote earlier in the story, I’m writing this to those of you out there that will read it and get something out of it.  I’m not even sure what you will get out of it and I have already received many emails from people who were touched, moved or inspired in ways that I had not anticipated.   I do pray for those of you out there that are in a dark place such as I was in.  I’ve been there and know how sad and lonely it can be.  I pray and hope that you can and will come out the other side and end up in a place that is good to be in.  A place that you yourselves don’t want to leave. Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey!  Take care and stay healthy!    Steve

Neff Family

Steve & Brenda with Sarah,Melissa, Jillian and dog Tucker

Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. A truly amazing and terrifying story from start to finish. All I can say is hang in there. I love your website and i wish you the best of luck. See you over at Sax on the Web. Jimmylh is my name there.

  2. Steve

    Your story is unbelievable. I can’t
    Imagine what you went through. I myself went through a rough time with my wife’s pregnancy’s and then health concerns with my beautiful daughter. I wound up going through severe anxiety, depression and OCD with crazy intrusive thoughts. Definitely the darkest time in my life but I hung on to God the best I could. I remember being in that “dark hole” and physically unable to smile. I am a perfectionist as well and very hard on myself but with therapy I learned to let it go. I also read one of Dr Burns books as well as some great OCD workbooks.

    My favorite bible verse is Isaiah 41:10 “fear not for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen and help you, surely I will hold you with my righteous right hand”

    The good thing is I’ve returned to playing the sax and am now working through your books. I jumped on this website checking out mouthpiece reviews. You’re a great guy and are helping more people than you will ever know with your story. All in Gods plan

    Hang in there

    • Thanks Nelson! I’m sorry you had to go through that. That’s a great scripture! I wrote it down to think about. It is so encouraging especially for those of us who struggle with perfection, depression or fear………….Thanks for reaching out. Steve

  3. Thanks so much for your story. It was breathtaking to read. I’m glad you’re better and your playing and your way of making sense out of saxophone playing is amazing. Thanks again. I had headaches, and still do, for about 35 years and a physician here in LA gave me rizatryptan which is good but usually I don’t take it. I don’t believe in gods and if/when I get seriously I will prepare to die. Never be treated. I hate surgeons. I had a so called cancer operation in -92 in Sweden that I was persuaded to have, that left me with a permanently hurting neck and swelling around the eye. I’m glad you got out of your surgery alive. I’m already 70 so I can die ok. But I’m a musician like you. I ran a dance band in Sweden between 1988 and -92. During that time I got divorced and the relationship with my ex was so bad that I didn’t mind emigrating to the US. I had acquainted a girl from the US in -91 and we settled in LA. My ex hasn’t called me in 25 years. We have two great kids who have visited me many times in LA. I bought an alto sax 10 years ago and a tenor 5 years ago. I practice and record on two Boss 1600 CD. I’m getting better on the sax but I need a more soft spoken mouthpiece. Thanks for your story. It was breathtaking to read and be safe. The photo with you and your family is beautiful.

    • Thanks Nick! I’m glad you enjoyed the read. It sounds like you have quite the complicated story also. I understand not believing in God. I guess for me, I see so much order in the world that I can’t help but think that it was created and not just random chance. Of course others see more disorder and chaos so……….I appreciate your comments. Take care, Steve

  4. Avatar Ian Johnson says

    Thank you so much for your inspiring story. I can see why your father referred to the book of Job. I’m sorry that I didn’t find your site before now but look forward to learning more and will be ordering lessons and books. I do wish you well with your chronic health problems

    • Thank you so much Ian. Hopefully I have all my health escapades out of the way and will have smooth sailing from here on…….We will see. Steve

  5. Avatar John Carlo says

    You may have read in one of my posts about how I had to give up music and band directing back in 83. I was once a pretty good jazz musician and had played in bars and clubs starting in the ninth grade. Music was all I knew. I said many times “God why me?” Well reading about your struggles in life make mine seem so trivial. What is really most important is giving back to God in any way you are able to. You are my inspiration and you and your family will always be in my prayers.

  6. Avatar Seth Dantzie says

    Wow, i literally sat down and read this story from start to finish, this story is incredible, i play the saxophone and have Tinnitus, i always wonder, why me? there are many people who don’t need their hearing, and they have perfect hearing, i need mine for music, and i am suffering.
    I must say thanks a million for writing your story, this will help many people who read it.

  7. Hi Steve,
    I just finished reading your story. Wow. Struck lots of cords, and thank you for being so transparent, and authentic and honest… and you’re also really funny, and you write so well. Just reading the comments of readers reaffirms how much your story speaks to people. Maybe God wants you to go take that story out of your blog and use it as an inspirational speaker. It’s an incredible testimony.

    I’ve had cancer 3 times, and the last solution that actually worked was a God thing, (I’ll tell you about that some time) but it is all small potatoes compared to your journey. You’re going to help a lot of people if you share your story… at least I want to encourage you to consider that option.

    I’ll close with one final thought. If your life in some ways does parallel Job, at least we know you’ll have a great 2nd half!

    • Thanks Rodney! I appreciate you taking the time to read all the way through it! Thanks for reaching out and encouraging me here. I hope and pray that you will stay healthy and cancer free also! Steve

  8. Wow,
    a riveting testimony! What a beautiful story. I can’t physically imagine what it could be like to go through all you have gone through, but praise God for your sharing of it and giving Him the glory. May God continue to bless and keep you. Stacey

  9. Hi Steve,

    I came to your site to get to the next level in saxophone performance. I saw the “Funny as a Brain Tumor” link on the top of the screen and just had to click (I’m a neurologist/psychiatrist). I’m touched by the humanity and honesty in your amazing story. I’m also reminded that I need to stick to my day job helping people with neurological and psychological dilemmas. I happen to believe God works in ways we don’t understand and that our job on this earth is to make the best out of what we’re given without giving in to despair. You’ve found a way to do just that.

    I look forward to hearing more and I will explore your saxophone lessons so I can learn even more!

    • Thanks Scott. I appreciate you taking the time to read the whole story. I for one am very grateful for all the neurologists out there!! Thank You! I hope you like the site and it helps with your saxophone side of life! Steve

    • Hi Scott,

      As another sax playing psychologist, with a special interest in learning and brain function, would like to connect via phone or email.

      Rodney Brim, Ph.D.

      Cell: (541) 813-9173 | Skype: rbatpst Email:

  10. Avatar Ambrose Buck Splescia says

    Aloha Steve !

    Loved your story, I laughed , I cried and had a kind of metamorphosis just by reading your story. I have already fallen in love with you and your family. You are a lot more than just a great teacher and sax player. Dude…you’re a walking miracle.

    Mahalo for all you do from Hawaii

    Ambrose “Buck” Splescia
    Berklee Grad circa 1978

  11. Avatar George Baker says

    Oh my goodness Steve. I knew of your neck and back issues, but this was all the more revealing of the adversity you’ve faced and overcome…so far. I know you mentioned Job, and God eventually blessed him because of his love and integrity. Through the physical, emotional and spiritual trials you to have remained faithful and God has blessed you for. The picture at the end says it all. Had you not faced them, by surrendering to your circumstances, your life, or lack of it, could have been different. I think you were ‘right on’ when you surrendered and let God’s will be done. You have been richly blessed with a loving, caring family amidst the challenges of life. We are all in a constant state of transformation. Keep fighting the good fight, even now with the challenges you are facing. Thank you so much for vulnerability in opening your heart and sharing your life. Peace.

  12. I was looking about for some information about SYOS mouthpieces and then I started to reading your history, I am so glad it all finished in a good way. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.
    Sorry for my english,
    hugs from Italy!

  13. Avatar Brigit Büttner says

    Hallo Steve,
    vielen Dank für das Schreiben deiner Geschichte. sie hat mich sehr berührt, ich habe einige Tage empathisch mit ihr verbracht….
    Ich bin, gerade in diesen Zeiten von Corona, davon überzeugt, dass unser Glauben an eine höhere Macht und an uns selbst uns in Frieden, Gesundheit und Liebe weiter leben lässt…
    Pass auf dich und deine Lieben auf


    Hello Steve,
    Thank you for writing your story. It touched me very much, I spent a few days empathetically reading it….
    Especially in these times of Corona, I am convinced that our belief in a higher power and in ourselves allows us to live on in peace, health and love …
    Take care of yourself and your loved ones

  14. Wow! I’ve been following you for several years, bought some of your excellent lessons and rely on your meticulous mouthpiece reviews as I try to find my sound. I have thoroughly
    enjoyed your saxophone playing and been inspired by it. Thank you!
    And now I just read every installment of your health blog. Your story and success is truly impressive! It motivates me to work harder and be thankful for health and life in general.
    You are an amazing guy, Steve!

    • Hi Mark, Thanks so much for taking the time to read my personal story. I also appreciate you reaching out to say so. It is very encouraging! Steve

  15. Avatar McGregor says

    Hey, Steve: I bought a Meyer New York 100th Anniversary alto mouthpiece because I heard your test on this site and I thought, “That’s how an alto should sound.” I picked up my sax a couple months ago after it sat untouched for virtually 30 years. And now I’m really excited and interested in trying to teach myself how to improvise, which was always the thing I regretted not being able to do. Your videos and blog have been really cool in this effort. Today, I saw the link, “Funny as a Brain Tumor,” and I thought I’d see what was the story behind it. So I just read all of the parts and they inspired me to make this post and just say, “Thank you for sharing this story.” My wife is a cancer survivor who fought related problems and I thought I would lose her for sure on more than one occasion. But I have her. We have our two daughters. I love how you play and explain how you play, but now I really love how you have persevered as a human and a dad and a husband. Congratulations and best wishes for continued health. I’m really glad I rediscovered my old Yamaha YAS-62, for which I still have the receipt in the case from 1985. I’m also glad I discovered your life story. It’s inspirational, man.

    • McGregor, Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story. I am so happy that your wife is still with you and your kids! I believe that when we survive health issues like this it can make our lives richer as we are more appreciative and thankful for what we have. We also realize that it can be taken away at any moment by forces outside ourselves which reminds us to make the most of each day. In a way I see my past experience as a gift that has made my life so much better. Thanks for writing and I wish you and your family the best! Steve

  16. Hi Steve, what a story. Inspirational for sure. Sometimes it’s so hard to have faith when we see such suffering in the world, or are suffering ourselves. I am a physician and also dabble as a musician. I diagnosed a brain tumor in a friend musician. We prayed so hard for God to heal him, and I don’t think I have ever seen someone with as much faith as my friend. He ended up passing away, and I found myself really wondering. I won’t bore you with details, but I don’t wonder anymore, and love reading stories like yours that build my faith even more. Praying that God will continue to bless you and others through you. You have a purpose, and you are living it out. I am confident that it will bring many to know the one true God.

  17. Avatar John Farina says

    Steve, Thank you for sharing your story. I found my self in tears many times as I read. I was so glad that you came through it all. The picture of your family at the end of the story was so heartening! I too have gone through some difficult times which resonated with your story. I am a diabetic and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 12 years ago which forced me from work to early retirement. As you may know, fibromyalgia is a chronic, incurable disease with a multitude of symptoms. For its chronic pain, tremors, memory fog, exhaustion and insomnia. Needless to say, your conversations with God and your sink into depression mirrored my experience. My latest trial came 6 months ago when I was hospitalized and diagnosed with liver disease. Similar to fibromyalgia, it is incurable and the doctors cannot explain the cause of the disease other than it may be related to my diabetes. When I got that diagnosis, I felt so alone. The doctors told me it would impact my life span but could not say by how much. Maybe a few years maybe 10 years. They had no idea, just like they had no cause or treatment. I wait for the next shoe to drop since both parents and my brother suffered from cancer. At this point I’m angry and depressed but have given it up to God. Oh and I forgot to mention, I was a decent saxophone player before this happened. Now I can barely hold my horn let alone play it. Your story has given me hope that things may improve.

    Thank you and God bless you and your family,

    • Avatar watersofhealth says

      John, I am sorry to hear about your health problems, but I want to tell you there are many avenues of treatment besides what those doctors told you. There are many other healing modalities, some definitely proven by science, that offer hope and healing. I would be glad to recommend some to you if you contact me 786 529 1486. The Western doctors know what they learned in medical school but there is a lot more knowledge in the world of healing, be it in Eastern medicine or other modalities that have been successful in helping people with the same conditions you have. Don’t give up! Open up your horizons! By the way, cancer is being treated successfully in other countries using methods that are simply not allowed in the US. That’s why doctors who practice these methods have clinics in other countries. There’s a film “Cancer Can Be Killed” that specifically mentions clinics in Germany that cure cancer in about a month without chemo, radiation or surgery. See
      Hana Dolgin Hydration Consultant Kangen Water and Kangen Ukon Distributor

    • John, Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I’m sorry you have to go through this hard journey you are on. Part of my belief in God and faith in something beyond this life is the hope that there is something better and good out there afterwards. We go through so much pain and struggle and it all seems so pointless at times. When I read the words of Jesus I really find my heart yearning to believe what he teaches about faith, love, hope, God and heaven. I believe this life is not the end but just a minuscule part of the beginning of this journey we are on. I was lucky in that my story took a turn for the better but I know sooner or later another life challenge will be coming my way. You are not alone and although we don’t know each other I will be thinking and praying for you. God bless you as well, Steve

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