Memorial: Stephen Sumner Oakes

Stephen Polycythemia Vera (PV)

"Stephen could talk your ear off about anything he felt passionate about, and he had many passions. His favorite topics included movies, TV shows, video games, and Under Armour clothing."

Stephen was a child of God. Throughout his years he was fascinated by the Lord’s creations and very respectful of life. As a boy, he would spend hours at the side of the creek that ran through the yard of the family’s home in Chestnut Hill. That tiny waterway offered up crayfish, tad poles, hellgrammites, and an occasional minnow. Stephen and his brother Kenneth would try to find the largest crayfish, a one-clawed crayfish, or any other crayfish variant on which the boys could agree. Stephen continued to pursue his interest in God’s great outdoors by participating in Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts. Weekend camp trips were a favorite activity.

In high school, his interests turned from capturing fauna in the creek to capturing it on film and on canvas. Using his 35mm SLR camera and a darkroom he helped build in the family home, he developed and printed his own photos. He also loved painting classes and on graduation from West Chester East High School in 1988 was awarded the William Palmer Lear Art Award. During a pre-college medical exam, doctors discovered that Stephen had Polycythemia Vera, a rare blood disorder. He was able to attend Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where he studied art.

After college, Stephen turned his focus to another area of interest, one he had learned in the kitchen at his mother’s elbow, cooking. During the Manayunk restaurant boom in the 1990s, Stephen worked as a chef in several of the top eateries. While working as a chef, he was also able to use his artistic talents in his gastronomic preparations for family and friends. He maintained an avid interest in cooking and creating recipes even though he had many dietary restrictions. Stephen had a hobby of raising his own herbs and bottling his own sauces. He was a computer wiz and illustrated his own labels for his sauces.

Stephen could talk your ear off about anything he felt passionate about, and he had many passions. His favorite topics included movies, TV shows, video games, and Under Armour clothing. He had so many pieces of Under Armour clothing that he could have opened his own store. Stephen will be remembered as an interesting, thoughtful, loyal, and devoted friend. To make a donation to MPN research in Stephen's memory click here.

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These represent first person accounts of real people living with Essential Thrombocythemia, Polycythemia Vera and Myelofibrosis. It does not represent the views or opinions of anyone associated with the MPN Research Foundation. Please consult your doctor before taking any action to manage your health.

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Polycythemia Vera (PV) , Age: 53
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Polycythemia Vera (PV) , Age: 54
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