Rays of Hope

Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on May 15, 2009 at 5:42 am

This week has been insane. On top of going to work, I finally managed to run 3 miles without stopping. You may remember from a post a couple of weeks ago that Dan & I would run the loop near the apartment. Dan always wanted to be able to get up to a 5k. Well, this week one of us finally made it! It only took me about a month to get up to speed (well, not really speed when you consider my pace), but I am glad I can do it now. Last year, we were going to do that 5k on his birthday, so I am little ahead of schedule.

Patrice (Dan’s sister) and I also were lucky enough to attend the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship’s Rays of Hope Gala last night. Dan used to work at NCCS. And everyone there holds a special place in my heart because I always felt great that Dan had such fantastic support at work. And now many of the people at NCCS have become my dear friends.

The Gala was dedicated in part to Dan, and I know he would be honored. Last year, Dan had just gotten out of the hospital for a random infection. Despite carrying around a pump for his antibiotics, he insisted on attending the Gala. I think it was important for him to push through cancer whenever it came to NCCS because he represented so much of what the organization stands for- survivors!

I was able to write a little something in the program about Dan from my point of view. I am including it below

Dan taught me that surviving cancer was less about chasing a clean scan that may never come and more about living with a chronic disease. He got up every day believing that he could make a difference in his cancer journey, regardless of what the statistics said. His approach was simple. If he believed in a “Will Win” attitude, then others could, too. If he told his story, then those who weren’t so lucky could speak through him. And if he was going to sit around and think about cancer every day, he could channel his energy into something positive.

Many people think that Dan’s legacy is the contributions he made to other cancer survivors through his work at NCCS and the National Collegiate Cancer Foundation, the organization he founded after his diagnosis. While these accomplishments are outstanding, Dan’s true legacy lies in the way he lived his every day life. He was never angry or bitter. He acknowledged his fears but was not a prisoner to them. He refused to let cancer define who he was or what he could accomplish. He made an effort to help others when most people looked the other way. He wasn’t afraid to try new things or meet new people. He appreciated his great life and everyone in it. He never quit.

I know Dan would agree that our love story is one of the best parts of his legacy. Dan and I didn’t just survive cancer together, we truly lived. We laughed. We celebrated. When Dan came bounding into my life, it was immediately bigger and brighter, and full of endless possibilities and surprises. Although he is gone, the lessons he left keep me moving forward in my own life. Even though I will miss him every day, I know I will survive. After all, I had a pretty good teacher.

Here are a few photos

me & Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order SVU) one of the nights honorees

Patrice, Ellen (aka Boss Lady) & me

Me & Bob Schieffer (Face the Nation)

Please read the complete article and let us know what you think below.

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