There… I Said It!

It’s funny how a simple Facebook post got me to finally say “survivor” after all this time.

Torre & Dan

Thank you to Joe Torre, fellow survivor. I had no idea what a simple photo could do.

A few weeks ago, I published an entry talking about how I believed I was finally nearing a point where I would be comfortable applying the term survivor to myself. When and how a patient chooses to use the term remains a highly personal issue. I knew I was getting close, but I surprised myself this past Saturday when I posted an update to Facebook as part of my travels with PCF’s Home Run Challenge.  It included a photo of Joe Torre and me. I wrote:

The 18th Annual Home Run Challenge to Keep Dad in the Game begins. I am honored to know and have opportunities to work with Joe Torre… Baseball great…, terrific guy…, supporter of the cause… and, above all… fellow survivor.

It wasn’t until about an hour later, as I was watching the Phillies game, that I realized what I had done. I went back to that Facebook post and stared at it for a while. I felt a tremendous weight lift from my shoulders as a smile spread across my face. Survivor… I had said it and it was as natural as using my name. My cancer’s sound barrier was broken.

Yes, I still have numerous quarterly blood draws and visits to the oncologist ahead of me. And, it’s a full two years until I reach the magical five year milestone. But, for the first time ever, I actually see it and believe it will happen. It feels great!

As I look back on the past three years, I realize I’ve learned several important lessons. Life doesn’t always go as we imagine it would. But we need to go with its flow, acknowledge our blessings and balance them with the challenges we are given. I’ve learned to accept the love and support of others without restriction and to give it without expectation. And, I’ve learned to embrace life as easily as I was ready to accept death.

Life is a river and we are leaves on its currents.

I remain ever grateful to my dear MaryEllen, my sons, family and friends who helped me weather the storm. Thank you for wanting me to be alive and with you. Yes, I heeded the call to believe and you have another survivor among you.

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16 Responses to “There… I Said It!”

  1. Bravo! Survivors welcome!

  2. I finally hit the five year mark this February and my PSA was .16, the lowest it has ever been, but my confrontation with the word survivor came three summers ago when I attended the March on Washington. I was asked when I was in line whether I was a “survivor” and was given a ribbon that said so! I was truly struck by the word being applied to me…but…it belonged to me for sure. Now I think I am there but it took years.

    My very best for you Dan, once again you have been an inspiration.

  3. Amen, Bro, amen. B

  4. If I am awake in the morning after a night’s sleep, I consider myself a survivor for another day. Welcome to the club, Dan.

  5. Not there yet my friend….but of course my head gets in the way ha ha…the best best to ya and us regds michael

  6. Our argument over what “survivor” means and when it’s applied is moot at last. As Thomas says above, “welcome to the club,” my friend, even though you’ve been a member for a long time!
    –Craig

  7. Dan, you are always such an inspiration. My husband also has Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer. His is the aggressive form and he has not responded to treatment very well. However, he is feeling well this year and we pray it continues. The treatments either don’t work or only work for a short while. Reading the replys from your readers, gives us hope.
    Thank you again for telling your story and giving us a place to go in private when we need a little support. You and the readers that reply have been helpful in our Cancer journey.

    • Sandi,

      While everyone’s journey differs, it helps to share thoughts, fears and even the little triumphs along the way with those who truly understand. I am glad you and your husband have found this group helpful.

      Keep believing. You are in our prayers.

      –Dan

  8. I don’t want to start the “Who is a survivor” argument again, but I claim that title because I feel that it diminishes the power of my cancer over my mind and my attitude. I am living; not, you know, the other thing. I have been living with stage 4 for nearly six years now. My latest monthly PSA was 0.4 and most of my days are good ones.
    I am happy that you are doing so well, Dan. It has been a joy to read your stories and if anyone deserves to have a good outcome-actually, we all do-but anyway, thanks for reminding us not to lose hope.
    For too many of us, hope eventually burns out. Tomorrow I will attend a support group meeting. I am very anxious about a true hero, a man named Jim who has been battling stage 4 for 18 years. Jim has never given in, has gone through multiple clinical trials, advised and helped other men who didn’t know how to get help, but last time we talked, he was doing very poorly.

    • Darrel,

      I hope you hear encouraging news when you see Jim tomorrow… He sounds truly remarkable. It is difficult to lose those we consider a hero in this journey. I’ve lost three in the past eight months… David, Trip and Larry. Bless them and all who have gone before them.

      We are making progress, but often not soon enough.

      –Dan

  9. Well, Dan, I’m happy for you and your family. After reading all the comments, I’m still in a quandry as to what to call myself at this point. As Darrel says, ” ..I’m alive..” Yes, I am that, but lately, little more. The roller coaster impact of the meds, the increasing PSA, and now anxiously awaiting my first meeting next week with a new medical oncologist…Stay strong, Dan and all the rest of my brothers in this “club”. I pull strength from you every day…some days, it just seems difficult to hold onto that strength.

  10. So happy for you. B R A V O to you and your family.

    For myself I just can’t wrap my head around the word just yet. I guess all those years we have been hearing about that magic number “five” that it has stuck to me. Like you (we have almost identical dates) all is going very well. I enjoy life to the fullest. Every day!! Retirement is around the corner. :) …..but I’m hung up on the “five” but will live with it. (PSA has been at 0,000 for 2 years now so,,,,)
    I expect 100% to be able to say that “word” in a few years but for now I shall continue to live and enjoy your site every day.

    Geeee. I’m glad you have passed that hump in the road and mine will come soon enough.

    David B.

  11. keep on truckin’, dan. i was diagnosed 06.15.2008. had radical surgery. found cancer in lymph node. so, i’m at 5yrs. 5yrs ago i never dreamed i’d b here 2day. and, i really feel great! yup, i visit the oncologist, now every 6mos. but i don’t mind. she’s a cool lady, and i love 2 harass her.

  12. I believed, we believed together…I knew you would get there my love. May your survivorship be long and without fear.