Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Don't Mess with Meg

A few weeks ago, I remember having a pretty rough day. I was lying on the couch and not feeling my best. Meg and I were talking and she looked into my eyes and said, “I would amputate my left leg if it meant you wouldn’t have to go through this.”

Talk about true love! For those of you that don’t know Meg, she is loving, compassionate, and caring. She welcomes all, friend or foe, with a warm heart and a big smile. She is also loyal to a fault. The scary thing is I knew she was truthful about her previous comment and realized at that moment she would do anything for me.

This past Saturday after flag football, we headed to our favorite local watering hole and the place where we met! For most of the day, I had been feeling well. We enjoyed the nice weather and a few beverages (diet cokes for me). Finally, it was time to walk a few blocks back to the apartment.

For those that don’t see me day in and day out, the cough has still lingered and can create fits in the morning and on exertion. Walking home this past Saturday was no exception. I was coughing forcefully, pausing every 20 yards to just catch my breath. Holding my hand, Meg was doing everything she could to comfort me. The bar was only 4 blocks from our apartment. With just a short distance to go and passing the last restaurant, I finally had to stop and bend over. While coughing vigorously, I overheard 4-5 gentlemen on the restaurant deck coughing on purpose in a mocking fashion. I immediately thought to myself, what a crime? I knew I couldn’t do anything about nor could I muster up the energy to confront them. Do you they have any idea what I’m going through? Do they know what’s it like to be a cancer survivor, go through chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, and all the side effects that accompany a diagnosis both physically and mentally? At the same time, I thought do they know who they are messing with?

Before I could even look up, Meg marched right up the stairs to the restaurant deck. Outraged at what she had witnessed, she went up there with fists clinched and guns blazing demanding an apology. In just a few seconds, she managed to give them a glimpse into our life, the life of a 26 year old facing stage IV lung cancer, a non-smoker, facing a horrendous disease and she demanded an acknowledgment that there actions were inappropriate. While the confrontation did not escalate to a physical one, the large group of men I think were shocked. Luckily, our other friend pulled Meg away, but they definitely learned their lesson – don’t mess with bull or you’ll get the horns.

Thousands of cancer survivors have side effects or symptoms that mount to physical manifestations in some form or another for the world to see. We have bald heads, numerous scars, chemo ports dispensing our medicine, or a vigorous cough. The stares, mocks, or simple attention by clueless outsiders is just another reminder how much education is needed around a disease that suffers from such a bad stigma. This post is not for others to feel sorry for myself or Meg. It is not the first time and certainly will not be the last we will have negative attention. I’m just grateful that I have a bull in Meg that will march into a crowd of men twice her size or do anything in my defense. Again, this is not about me or Meg, but our goal to educate the masses, even if it is just one person or one group at a time.


Anonymous said...

Hi Danny,

I think you go by Dan these days but I remember you as Danny when you were younger. I somehow ran across your blog on facebook and I am amazed. I am a pediatric ICU nurse and I am all too familiar with chemo and the side effects...needless to say I hope you are feeling better. I am overwhelmed by your strength and positive attitude, you are a symbol of hope for young cancer survivors. Tell Holly and your sisters that I said "hi". I have fond memories of you and your family. Marijane Holjes

Anonymous said...

Dear Dan & Meg, This is one very powerful blog today! While reading the first paragraph, I started crying.Actually, tears of joy that you have such a wonderful (under-statement) woman in your life who loves you so deeply. How many women would even date a man that they knew from day 1 had cancer? Meg, you are more than awesome. I don't have correct praise words. Maybe there aren't any. What a comfort to know Dan has you in his life to help him go thru this journey on a daily basis. As his mom, I feel so helpless. You are both doing such a fine job of educating the public about cancer struggles. You have no idea how very many lives you are affecting. It is fascinating to see how folks find your blog - like Marijane did.Love always, mom

hughesd2000 said...

As a friend of Meg's (and now Dan too!), I can honestly say that you are one lucky guy to have her in your corner. I have seen her in action a few times when something or someone she cares about has been treated poorly. I believe there is a bar incident in college when she effectively took care of business!! She just gets her done when need be (that was a little of my Indiana side coming out!). Anyway I am a little taken aback that someone would mock someone coughing, but it does make you think twice about the person next to you who is having a coughing attack. It may not always be what you may think!!! I hope that round two of chemo is doing its thing and if you guys need help getting up the hill, we are all here cheering and urging you on!! Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Dan and Meg, I'm a new friend of your mom's. My name is Horace. I commend you for your endurance, Dan. And I commend Meg for her steadfast faithfulness to you during this challenging ordeal. It is a shame that people mocked you the way they did. In my life, I've learned that what goes around comes around. At some point in their lives...maybe sooner than they might think...these men will have to endure some serious ordeals or their own and their mocking of you will come back to haunt them. I'm not praying for such. But I know that it does and has happened to people like that.

God bless you!!!


Carl said...

Great story, about Meg fearlessly correcting the yahoos who were laughing at you.

Made me smile - in sympathy, of course!


Anonymous said...

Dan and Meg,

I loved the blog. Meg is awsome. I would have bet on Meg if things had boiled down to a physical fight because it sounds like her adrinaline and rage would fuel her to pick up a car and dropped it on them.

Keep fighting Dan.

You and Meg have affected me more than you know with your determination and fighting attitude. Just by being around you has helped instil the same qualities in me. I'm grateful to you for that. So keep fighting Dan because you are an inspiration.

If you need anything from me, just let me know.

Matt Wolfe

Anonymous said...

wish I had been there to join in Meg- but we are here, reading everyday - I love the updates and keep you in our thoughts every day, all the time - Nikki