Remembering Daniel on World Cancer Awareness Day.

Today is World Cancer Awareness day. It is a day where we can all take a moment to remember those we have lost and celebrate those who have fought and won.

Within my own family I have a brother and sister who are alive and fighting fit having had cancer. I have three cousins who are also survivors, all testimony to the wonderful advances the world has made in detection and treatment of Cancer.

Yet every day in this house I feel touched by cancer, for not a day goes by without a thought for young Daniel.

I remember so well the first two weeks of Daniels diagnosis. He was twelve, soon to be thirteen. His parents were told he had leukemia and so was he. Within hours he was on his way to Dublin for Chemotherapy and bone marrow biopsy, and they couldn’t stop his tears, a brave, strong boy, obviously very frightened.

Two weeks later we prepared for his return to Cork. It was nearly Christmas. I was teaching when a text came in. I expected it to be about how excited theyphoto (2)

were to be coming home. Instead I read that Daniel had not responded to Chemo. He had a rare, more complicated form of Leukemia than they had hoped. They would treat him with a new drug which was only developed in the past fifteen years. Fingers crossed as this was his only hope.

Thankfully the drug changed everything and Daniels body responded to Chemo over the next many months. Without that drug, he would have died quickly. As it turned out young Dan didn’t make it anyway, but at least his family know everything possible was done.

I well remember at the time spreading the word that it is all very well to be putting our hands into our pockets to support the wonderful cancer charities around us, but if we really want to do something for cancer we need to focus more on research. If we want to make a real difference in the future we need to be able to treat cancers like leukemia, without the treatment killing our children. For that is what happened in Daniels case. When Daniel died he was cancer free. It was a viral infection which killed him, coupled with the very serious side effects the chemotherapy and radiotherapy had had on his young body.

Did you know that most drug companies are not actively researching childhood cancers, as it is deemed per head of population to be a rare illness with very little profit in it? Yet this week alone the parents of at least four children or teenagers here in Ireland, will hear the news that their child has cancer, and will walk for the first time along the corridor which will lead them to St Johns Ward, Crumlin.

So today I am spreading my bit of awareness. Please consider donating to cancer research, particularly childhood cancer research. If Daniel had been born fifteen years earlier there would have been no treatment possible. Our children deserve every chance at life and it is our money which can and will make a difference.

It is too late for Daniel but who knows which one of us in the future will be glad our child is at least given a chance.


20 thoughts on “Remembering Daniel on World Cancer Awareness Day.

  1. remembering hazen kennedy taken by neuroblastoma at age 5. and all of those who left this world way to early, not even having had a chance to live life yet. thank you for this, tric.

    1. Remembering the little cowboy here tonight. I am sure he’s never too far away from you Beth. I’d love to read that link again and have it permanently, the one about his wish. Would you post it here or else email it to me under my contact me?

        1. Tears here reading your link once more. It is amazing. Thank you so much I will copy it and give it (have shared it orally before) to Daniels family I know they will get strength from it. Daniel suffered so much and in a different way he too said he’d had enough.
          Thanks again for the day that’s in it I think it’s appropriate to remember so many little ones. Love the name Hazen. Hope he’s found Daniel.

        2. i’m sure they’ve found each other, tric. and hazen can teach daniel his magic tricks that he was just beginning to learn how to do –

  2. Tric what a call to arms against cancer. My family has lost young ones, or had young one’s affected by cancer over the last few generations, some of them I’ve known, some lost before me. ANd only 30 of the last 120 cancer therapies are for children? That surprised me. Thank you for keeping our eyes open Tric, passion is what will drive us to a cure.

    1. Thanks. It’s an old stat but from what I’ve read it’s not much better to this day. There are a number of charities trying to highlight the anomaly.
      Daniels virus was so virulent and the doctors were very open about the fact they didn’t know how to treat it, not to mention the enormous cost of the drug of choice. I’d say with one US transplant and the cost of his drug therapy for so long Daniel alone went a long way to blow the hospital budget, and he was not the only sick child they were treating experimentally.
      With more research a lot could be achieved. The very sad truth is that even if Dan had lived the cost of the treatment on his young body would have been enormous, so a return to the boy he was was not really an option. Maybe in our childrens future that will all change.
      Thanks again, and sorry for all those you too have lost within your family.

      1. I’m so stymied over “cost” discussion Tric. I know medicine and research and work costs money. But when we look at children, or any human for that matter, how do we say cost is a factor in care and research. I mean….I ‘know’ it is. But I don’t want it to be…. I am pretty sure you know what I mean. And thank you.

  3. Thank you for such a touching story and for the information about research. My life has been touched by cancer too many times, but have never lost one so young. It is so sad to see a child die. I cannot imagine….

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