Dan's Journey

Dan’s journey began many years ago (the doctors estimate he has had the cancer for 4 years), but because colorectal cancer is considered an “old person’s disease” he was not diagnosed until September 2011. When Dan had a colonoscopy to figure out why he was having digestion issues and pain, the doctors found a malignant tumour. Twenty years younger than the average Colorectal patient, Dan was diagnosed with Cancer. The day Dan found out he had cancer, and that it was at an advanced stage, it was a blow to the heart. Just surviving the next five years would be a huge accomplishment. But as devastating as this news was, Dan had youth on his side. His family and friends had hope!

The following year included multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that left Dan with no energy, hypersensitive to cold, a loss of sensation in his fingers and toes, sterile, and in a lot of pain. He made many trips to the hospital fighting the kidney stones that developed in his body, and his spirit took a beating. But that didn’t stop Dan from going back for more - fighting the ugly cancer that threatened to take his life. He held in there, with some good days and some really bad days, and he fought hard.

Surgery to remove the infected colon went well, although Dan suffered some setbacks in the hospital. After a few extra days his body adjusted and he was sent home. But what was home? It was a very different experience now that he had a stoma that needed constant care and attention and a colostomy bag to manage. But, he adjusted and it became part of his routine.

With the surgery behind him, the chemo and radiation done, Dan tackled another challenge this past summer…the mountains. As weak as his body was, he pushed himself to climb, and to be in the moment with nature. Most of his cancer support group friends couldn’t imagine doing what Dan did - the strength and energy needed to climb a mountain after all his body had gone through was an amazing accomplishment!

As Dan continued to gain strength and energy, both for his mind and his body, he was hit with another blow. In October 2012, 5 months after his surgery, routine blood work and a follow up CT scan confirmed that his cancer had spread. This means more chemo, more drugs, and another round in the ring with cancer.

Dan’s cancer diagnoses came just as he was beginning his studies in Pharmacy (he already has a Masters Degrees in Biology and a BSc in Biochemistry). Through his first round of chemotherapy and radiation Dan kept up with his studies, but it put added stress on him and this semester he may have to back off his course load to focus on his recovery.

Dan and his amazing fiancé Bevin, who is a full time student and Dan’s rock, both live on student loans and savings. The money Bevin makes working summer jobs are quickly eaten up by living expenses and school fees. Working is not really an option for Dan while he is in treatment because, in addition to being sick and having no energy, Dan cannot afford to catch a cold or flu. Despite working hard and living frugally, cancer treatment costs and living expenses are mounting. Some of Dan’s treatments and medications are covered 100%, but others only 50%. It is not uncommon for Dan to have to spend $100 on medications in a two-day span.

Dan’s family and friends continue to have hope that with new drugs, as well as youth on his side, he will win this battle! That he will survive the next 5 years, finish university, become a pharmacist, marry his fiancé and have a family.

Dan needs his family and friends to be there for him, to send positive vibes, to take him for coffee, and above all else to not judge him, and let him have bad days and good days, and to help him on both days, and to love him unconditionally. 

Karina Tremblay – sister
Lee-Anne Akister – sister-in-law

Please comment below if you would like to offer some encouragement to Dan.

1 comment:

  1. Dan - it was great to see you this past Friday at the U of R! You can still laugh about all the stupid shit in this world and that makes me smile.


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