In 1995, Danny Brombal heard the words, “you have cancer.”
At 27, his diagnosis brought forward a whirlwind of uncertainty. Looking back today, as a 48 year old father of 3, his cancer journey brings him to his local Inner West NSW Relay For Life, walking among the crowd as an advocate, mentor, friend and cancer survivor.
Being diagnosed with testicular cancer is not easy for any man to hear. With two young sons at the time, Adrian at 3 and Julian at only 18 months old, the most devastating part for Danny was not facing the cancer itself but facing the possibility of not being there to witness his children grow up.
While braving his cancer journey, Danny had another harsh reality to face. The nature of his condition and treatment meant any chance of having another child would be very slim. Yet, Danny soon learned he would become a dad again. His third son Liam, who he affectionately calls his miracle child, was born in 1999! 3 years post diagnosis.
For Danny, his children continue to remind him of the “value of living in the moment, appreciating what we have, and the beauty of seeing your children grow up.”
In the late 90s Danny was glad to have received support of local cancer services. In particular, taking part in a cancer support group for young adults allowed him to meet with other young men and women who had gone through a similar journey. His involvement in the group came as a great comfort to not only receive the support but offer it to others going through a similar experience. This would soon lead to a deep desire to contribute further through Cancer Council’s Relay For Life.
After diagnosis, Danny underwent surgery and chemotherapy, with ongoing hospital stays over the next year and a half. Danny finally left hospital on August 1st 1996 and while he was glad the hospital stays were over, there was still an uncertainty of what the future had in store.
“I walked out of hospital for the last time … constantly looking over my shoulder into the world of survivorship,” he recalls.
Grasping what it meant to be a survivor came with its challenges. On one hand, Danny was overjoyed to still be with his family, but on the other he recalls experiencing feelings of guilt around being “one of the lucky ones” to have survived.
Little did he know, a turning point was on its way. It came 10 years post diagnosis when a friend called and invited him to take part in his very first Relay For Life. It would be what gave birth to his determination to support the community and use his status as a survivor to “change the world and give back”.
“It gave me a place to belong… a place where I felt comfortable and embraced the word survivor. It was a turning point in my life where I was comfortable and at peace with where I have been and where I was headed… It gives me an opportunity to grow. To meet the most incredible people… See a positive change in the cancer landscape, see services improved and ground breaking research…There is still a long way to go but we’re definitely making progress.”
After his first year at Relay, Danny felt compelled to keep coming back, first as a participant, then volunteer and eventually as Chair of the Relay Mission Working Group. He has also played a key role as a cancer advocate for the Sydney Cancer Action Network and CanAct, liaising with local members of parliament to spark positive changes for cancer patients, their families and carers.
“Each year I feel inspired by Relay For Life and Cancer Council NSW. They are responsible for igniting in me a deep need to give back. They are perfect vehicles to facilitate growth and a healing process along the way.” Danny says.
When asked who kept him strong throughout his cancer journey, his family and especially his 3 sons who inspire him daily, were the first to come to mind. Cancer is no stranger to the Brombals with both of Danny’s parents having experienced their own cancer journeys. His wife Moira, whom he married earlier this year, is also a survivor of thyroid cancer.
Today Danny lives in Five Dock, NSW taking in the simple pleasures of life. He is a devoted, hands-on dad, an incomparable foodie, avid reader and seasoned traveler and a passionate community minded man who likes to take time to celebrate every milestone along the way and enjoy the simplest of life's treasures.