Sunday, June 30, 2013

18 Months, Cancer-free!!

St. Peter's Basilica, Saturday, June 22
Hello friends, family, followers, and everyone....the last few weeks have been tumultuous but I feel like we have some through the rapids into (hopefully) some calm waters. I returned from Italy last Sunday and was reunited with Renee.  We went to the doctor together on Monday - she had been to this doc 5 times, each time with a different caregiver - and when I introduced myself to the doc as "the husband", he said "well, it's about time".  Fair enough!  Renee's hand is improving.  The heinous blister popped and the swelling is down considerably.  She keeps it bandaged now because of the exposed and broken skin, and she is working hard on physical therapy to restore the full range of motion in the finger.  I owe a big thank you to Rachel and Kenyon, Bob and Vaun, and Laurie and Mamie for taking such great care of Renee while I was on duty in Italy.

Renee's finger, 2 days after the bite.  It would get much worse.

Friday was a big day for us because I had my follow-up CT scan on Thursday morning.  You may recall that 6 weeks ago my re-staging CT scan showed a 'little something' in my lung, hence the need to re-scan this past week to see if it was still there.  IT WAS GONE.  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!!  That means that I am now 18 months (plus a few days) post-transplant and continuing to be cancer-free.  Still is amazing to me.  In addition to the clear CT scan last week, I also registered the best blood count numbers in a couple of years - platelets, hemoglobin, neutrophils, and immunoglobulin all registered highs.

Last week also marked the transition at work from VP of supply chain transformation to procurement strategist and project leader.  Everything in my life comes from the hand of the Lord - my "success" at work included.  I felt clearly the Lord leading me to step down from VP life, at least for the foreseeable future, as a result of my various health issues over the past several months.  I continue to trust Him in all things.
The Villa Laura, Cortona, Toscana

In what seemed like an affirmation of my decision (with my doctors) to alter my work responsibilities, I was asked to be the speaker at a fund-raising dinner for the MD Anderson Chaplaincy department on October 24th.  I want to develop a selection of "talks" that I can give at hospitals, survivor organizations, churches, a ministry - so this was a really timely request for me.  I will be in Houston that week for my next restaging, which will include CT and PET scans plus a bone marrow biopsy.

The next event comes quickly - I'm going to Santa Monica (near LA) for my cousin John Skinner's wedding - leaving on the 4th of July.  I'm looking forward to playing a little golf with John's brother, Jim, who was an elite collegiate golfer at SMU "back in the day".  

Also, of course, the big trek is coming closer - less than 45 days now.  Preparations are getting more intense, both physically and in terms of equipment, logistics, and reading.  I'll provide more details in my next post.  Key links:

Link to TNT Fundraising site

Link to my blog on The Muir Project site
(scroll down to June 3 entry)

God bless all of you!!  Happy fourth of July!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Under the Tuscan Sun Times One


I am in a small Tuscan town called Cortona, helping Jeff and Melissa Williams celebrate their 50th birthdays with some close friends and family.  Sadly, Renee had to pull out of the trip after she was bitten by a snake - a copperhead - a week ago today.  She was pruning rhododendron in our front yard when a tiny (2-ft) snake bit her right little finger.  Not knowing exactly what kind of snake it was at that moment, I drove Renee to the hospital in a mad rush.  Based on what the doctors were telling us initially, we thought we could both make the trip to Italy, but by late Wednesday, it was clear that Renee was not going to be in any state to travel.  Renee encouraged me to go and celebrate with Jeff and Melissa, who have been our dear friends since before either us us had children - as adults, we 'grew up' together.  Renee is in good hands, with Rachel and Kenyon on duty, plus Bob and Vaun, plus Laurie and I am on social/recreational duty here in Italy.  

Florence from Ponte Vecchio - Arno River 

This is a very active vacation, typical of the kind J&M enjoy - we have hiked, cycled, and done museum and walking tours so far and today is another hiking day.  This is actually a great training experience, in addition to being an absolutely heavenly setting.  J&M have put on a great program here at the "Villa Laura" in Cortona.  I appreciate your prayers for Renee.  I would publish a picture of her finger but it's really awful.  Love to all....Dan and Renee

The quaint Tuscan town of Gioiella, photo taken during our day of cycling through the Tuscan countryside

At the monastery that St. Francis of Assissi founded and where he lived many years, outside Cortona

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June Update

Hello family, friends, colleagues.....

Self portrait on Falls Lake Trail today

It's Sunday evening, June 9th and I am sore-footed and -shouldered after a 9-mile training hike today.  I did this one solo because Mike was tied up with graduation festivities for his youngest son.  I'm trying to make sure I get "out" at least once a week now, and soon I will have to make it two.  On the fund-raising front, we've just nosed over $64,000 raised!!  Pretty phenomenal, and I am so thankful for everyone's participation and generosity.  Many of you donors have recently received a super-cool refrigerator magnet to thank you, remind you of my trip and (maybe) to pray for me.  Those magnets were a gift of a good friend from Wheaton, Brian Baird, whose company (Magnetstreet) creates a range of announcement and invitation products, primarily for weddings, graduations, and other major events.  Thanks again Brian!

Here's a link to the JMT Fundraising site:

John Muir Trail Website - Team in Training

Donation of the month goes to another family member, Jill (Rooker) DiCicco, who got her class and Aurora Christian School to do a fund raising drive for me - the kids raised over $100 for my cause.  You have to see this short video of her class:

Jill's Class Project - Dan the Walking Man

Very precious.....

On the medical front....nothing horrible, but I did come down with a fever and a mild pneumonia, which resulted in spending the afternoon of Mother's Day in the emergency room (routine precaution for transplant patients).  Given the track record I've had over the past 7 months, with infections, fevers, and liver issues, I've been able to arrange a different role at IBM that should reduce the toll that work is taking on my body and immune system.  Honestly, I need to be consistently healthy over the next two months if I am really going to go off into the wilderness for 26 days.  And, apart from the hike, I just need to find an equilibrium with work that results in strong health and no infections.  I'm very thankful that IBM has been so supportive.

Oh, I think this is really exciting....the Muir Project, a team of film-makers who are just now releasing a documentary on the John Muir Trail, have a promotional website at "", and they have posted a guest blog entry that I wrote with help from my daughter Rachel:

That's my guest blog entry!  I encourage you to explore their site, it will be a great documentary, I am 100% confident.  I hope to get a copy of it before I make my trip.  Please check it out.

Renee and I will be doing a little traveling coming up, to Italy for a week of R&R with some very dear friends who are celebrating their 50th birthdays this summer.  Ah, the rolling hills of Tuscany await!

When I get home, I will be re-scanned to make sure that the "little thing" in my lung three weeks ago was just that touch of pneumonia and nothing else.  Appreciate your prayers in all these things - and please - let me know if I can help you or anyone you know deal with cancer diagnoses, treatments, or anyone that just needs encouragement - that's why I am here.  With love - Dan