"Something happened on the track that day! The love, warmth, acceptance… Relay gave me peace!"
I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1995 at the age of 27. I was married with two young sons – Adrian, three and Julian, one. From that day, my life took a turn and changed me.
I struggled with the notion of my mortality for months and years, but my greatest pain was the thought that I quite possibly would not be around to see my sons grow into adults; to guide them, experience life together, laugh, kick a ball. The thought of abandoning them was at times too much.
Thus began my cancer journey – a blur of tears, doctors, nurses, needles, scans, blood tests, surgery, chemotherapy, more surgery, more appointments. It seemed to never end. After a year and a half of active treatment, I was released into a now changed world. More so the fact I had changed and now viewed the world through different eyes. I tackled my survivorship and attempted to return to a normal life, but I really struggled with the word "survivor". This word brought me guilt and fear. How and why had so many of my cancer friends not made it so far, yet I had? This dark cloud hung over my every day.
Whilst navigating my way through all these survivorship issues, a miracle happened – the birth of my third son. I was told I may never have any more children, but young Liam had other ideas. He brought me new happiness, renewed focus and an acceptance of where I had been. However, I still struggled using the word "survivor".
In 2006 I was asked along to my first Relay For Life event, the Inner West Relay For Life in Sydney which I am still a part of today! My first taste of Relay was in the pouring rain surrounded by fellow survivors, carers, my three sons, family and friends. What an incredible experience. After spending 24 hours on that soggy track I went home on such a high I couldn’t sleep. Something happened on the track that day! The love, warmth, acceptance, the feeling I wasn’t alone in my experience and, most importantly, Relay gave me peace! Peace in my heart and spirit, a place to release my guilt, fear, hurt and be thankful. It’s also an avenue for me to give back and nurture the one thing I carried all the way through my journey – HOPE!
I now volunteer in many ways: from 2007–10 on the Inner West Relay Committee as co-chair and in various roles; in 2009 I became an advocate for Cancer Council NSW; from 2010–14 as MP Liaison for state seat of Drummoyne NSW; and in 2011–14 I joined the NSW Relay Advisory and Development Team as the Fight Back Advisor. I’m chairing the Nationwide Volunteer Committee as well as sitting on the Nationwide Advisory Committee.
I volunteer as it gives me a means to give back and be thankful. I Relay for my children and future generations.
Want to join Danny and be a part of Relay For Life? Find your local Relay here!