In November 2004, my husband Danny and I received the heart crushing news that he had kidney cancer. He had no serious symptoms that would have indicated anything as serious as this. He felt fatigued and had been running a fever at night for a couple of months, but contributed this to what he thought was his sinuses. His doctor recommended that he go to MD Anderson and assisted us in getting the process in motion. In December, he had his surgery to remove his right kidney, only to find that it was in his lymph nodes and had already spread to his duodenum. His surgeon told our sons and me that Danny probably had a year to live, and told Danny to go home and make memories.
Naturally, the chemotherapy that showed some result in fighting renal cell carcinoma was initiated. The side effects of the chemo made him stay cold, caused major problems with his feet and hands, affected his appetite and kept him tired. He had to get numerous blood transfusions due to anemia from the cancer and chemo. There were days that I felt like he would not want to go on, but I was wrong. Danny appreciated life, family, and friends. The diagnosis of cancer brought Danny closer to God and improved and strengthened his relationship with Him the last year of his life.
As the healthy spouse, I did not want him to think I expected him to continue fighting the cancer when he felt like he had enough. His quality of life seemed so poor to me. But he had a fighting spirit and a very positive attitude through it all. His response to me was that if chemo could give him just one more day to be with me, his children, and his grandchildren, then it was worth taking.
God laid it on my heart to start this foundation while Danny was living. I told Danny about it and his response was to do it. Due to Danny’s health condition, I did not get to start it while he was living, but I still have the desire to help someone else live and spend one more day with their families and to develop their relationships with God and His son, Jesus.
Danny continued to take his chemo, hoping that it would work and when it stopped working, another one could be started to take its place. He never gave up and often told doctors not to give up on him. Danny had faith that new chemo drugs would be developed and approved that would get rid of his cancer.
Like Danny, this is the dream of cancer patients and their families; that the patients will be able to fight the fight with chemo and/or radiation and come out winners. There have been many breakthroughs with cancer research and there are winners with some forms of cancer, but there are still many people dying with cancer who had great desires to live. Danny was 48 years old when he died. That’s why it is so important for funds to be raised, so that scientists can find new drugs that will fight cancers that continue to kill young and old. More studies need to be done to find out causes of cancer and how it can be found in time to treat when you have not had the warning signs until it’s too far advanced. I’ve talked with many people going through chemo that said they had no warning sign that they had cancer until it was in a final stage. This is frightening and needs to be stopped.