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  • Daniel
  • 24th Jan. 2020

“Cancer never really leaves you. It keeps you on edge.”

CanTeen leader Dan was a few months away from celebrating his 16th birthday in 2015 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, called Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“For me, cancer always seemed like something that older people get, and that’s why it came as such a surprise to me, my family, and my friends.”

“I, nor any young person, ever thinks that one day they will be told they have cancer, and nor should they.”

Dan underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions, which all took a massive toll on his life.

“To put it bluntly, life during treatment was not a fun time; I always felt tired, I always felt sick, and I was always in pain. I just went on autopilot, because I knew that’s what I had to do to get through my treatment.

“People often tell me that I was brave and strong, but really, at the essence of it – I didn’t really have a choice. It was either have treatment or let the disease take over me.”

“There was light at the end of the tunnel for me – my cancer was highly treatable. Something that I know many people don’t have the privilege of hearing. I always remind myself of that when I think about my cancer experience.”

Dan’s treatment was successful, and he went into remission, but that didn’t mean his cancer experience was over.

“People may not realise, but cancer never really leaves you. It keeps you on edge, which can affect your social life, your work life, your family life, and close relationships.

“With the type of cancer I had, there was always a chance it could come back. It is something that is always in the back of my mind. Every ache, every lump, every bit of pain, I think ‘has it come back?’”

“Cancer never really leaves you. It keeps you on edge.”

However, Dan does feel like his cancer experience has given him a “much strong appreciation for life” and he carries that with him every day.

“If I’m ever going through a tough time in my life, I think back to what I went through and how young I was, and I know that if I can beat something like cancer at the age of 16, I can achieve most of the things I want to. CanTeen has helped me realise this.”

Dan joined CanTeen to connect with other rangatahi who could relate to what he was going through, both during treatment and beyond.

“I came into the charity not knowing much about who they are, and what they did, to engrossing myself into everything that CanTeen has to offer.”

For more than 5 years Dan’s been coming to CanTeen’s peer events and is now part of the Leadership programme, to support other rangatahi impacted by cancer in the CanTeen community.

“I feel proud that I have helped people go through their journey just that little easier than I did, because no one, no matter who they are, how old they are, where they have come from, or going in life, should be told they have cancer.”