Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NCCF Scholarship Application Now Posted!

The 2010-2011 NCCF scholarship application is now posted! Applications will be due June 1, 2010.

Our $1,000 scholarships are open to any young adult cancer survivor or patient between 18-35 who is pursuing higher education.

To date, we've awarded close to 50 scholarships in just 4 short years. What a great way to keep Dan's legacy alive, and keep everyone involved.

To view the requirements and download the application, please visit

Please pass this information on to anyone who may be eligible!

Friday, March 19, 2010

From Bobby & Lindsay

From Lindsay:

Danny- How he was so special. I first met Danny in 2004 when I met his older brother Bobby. Ill never forget the day we were just getting ready to settle down, Bobby and I in the kitchen cooking dinner when the phone rang. I wasn’t surprised to find out that it was Danny... Danny wanted to find out about this girl that his brother was talking to was all about. Danny was so warm, funny, and caring. After Bobby got the approval I eventually went to Pennsylvania to meet the family, and a couple of years later I soon became apart of the family. Although the distance from California to Pennsylvania made it hard for both Bobby and I to hang out with the family, the calls to communicate between the distances kept coming. We all know what phone call came shortly after, that set the tone for the next couple of years for Danny. I like to look at March 16 as a day of celebration that he wasn’t in pain anymore and went to a magical place I could only dream about. As I wake up on March 17 I thank God everyday for the gift that was given to me in such a time of pain and sorrow. Jack Daniel Waeger was born one day shy of meeting his uncle but I am convinced that Danny is not only his guardian angel but that he was an angel sent from heaven. I write today because its Meghans and Jacks birthday and I know that Danny would want us to celebrate.

From Bobby:

It has been One year now since I lost my Little Brother. I find it really tough to write or talk about it. What can you really say?.. You can say you are upset, angry, sad, and all those things.. but it will not bring him back. He was a true Champion and role model and sucks he had such a short life. CANCER SUCKS (I remember him wearing a shirt that said this).

I can remember when we were in High School: I was a senior and he was a Freshman. He was so dedicated and gifted that he made the Varsity Soccer Team and we were able to play on the same team. I encouraged him to try Football and do a few other sports just like me. He said he did not want to follow the exact footprints I had created. He said he wanted to create his own path and his own footprints. He went on to play golf, which became a true love of his.

In life, it is usually the big brother that is the role model, but I must admit, Danny has been a Role model to me and thousands of other people who have met him. He inspiration, will-win attitude, and courage are just a snapshot of him during his short life. He certainly made his own footprints! He fought Cancer, Finished his MBA, worked a full time job, coached golf, and Fell in Love ... he would not let anything hold him back! He lived everyday to the fullest, he was a man of few words,.. but when he spoke, you better listen.. (he did not like to repeat things!).

I remember how Happy he was when he fell in love with Meghan. (I actually still have the email.). Meghan, Thanks for everything! You mean the world to Danny.

I am sad because he was never able to meet our son and his Nephew: Jack Daniel Waeger (born the day after he passed away) & He was not able to get Married to his beautiful finance Meghan. I am also sad because I was not able to come to his funeral and personally thank all his friends for their love and support.

I find Comfort in having Danny as a guardian Angel for Jack and our family. I often see things in Jack that remind me of Danny. Often I see Jack just staring into a particular place where Lindsay and I do not see anything.. and I think Danny is there watching him.

Ironically Danny was # 4 in Football (freshman year), and At 4:04 AM on March 16th we had a 4.4 earthquake a few miles from our home in California! I am not sure we will ever know the answers to many of our questions as to why/ why Danny, etc. But I find comfort in knowing he is in Heaven and in a great place, possibly playing golf at Sawgrass every day.

Danny did not want anyone to feel sorry for him, and said we all need to Celebrate life, rather than be upset and cry.. It is now Jack and Meghan’s birthday and there is plenty to celebrate, So I offer a toast of Green Beer to anyone who wishes to have one today. (in memory of Dan).


Bob, Lindsay, and Baby Jack

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One Year

I don't have many words today. I am extremely sad that the world lost a great person a year ago today. He fought cancer as hard as anyone could. And he fought for people with cancer more than anyone I've met. It was truly an honor to be in his life, and to be able to call his friends my friends, and his family my family.

A year ago, people told me that time would heal all wounds. There have been moments when I wanted time to move quickly to get away from the pain, and sometimes when I wanted it to stand still so that I wouldn't be so far from having him physically here. We will all continue to move forward with our lives, but no amount of time will remove his memory or the impression he left on each of us.

I miss him. But I do not miss him sick with cancer. Our relationship was complete. We met, fell in love... we had our ups and downs, but when he needed me, there was no question in my mind I would stand by him and help him. One of the blessings of time passing is that I don't remember all the intricacies of his final weeks, and his decline. I really only remember that sweet smile and gentle soul.

I see him. I see him in his friends and family, and the incredible support they've given me. I see him now as spring is arriving and the sun is shining longer. I see pictures of myself now, and I see him in my smile. I see him in the lives that he has touched... in the countless people who remember him daily, and those who are affected by merely hearing his story.

I am sorry he is no longer here. But I won't live my life feeling sorry for my loss. I know how much I was loved- a true and precious gift. But I know Dan wants, rather- expects- me to move forward and live a great life. He told me as much. I know that he would have done anything to stay with us, but that he was very happy despite living every day with a disease that he knew would eventually take his life at some point.

To die at 26 (almost 27)... and to know you had no regrets. You fought hard. You were an exceptional person. You told people how you felt about them. You had something to believe in, and put others in front of yourself. You enjoyed your life, and lived with acceptance of your situation. You made no excuses. You did big things, but more importantly made people believe that big things were possible. You defined the words "hope", "optimism" and "love" for many people. And you did it all while being the most normal person on earth.... I want my life to end up like that.

When I asked Dan if he wanted to write a final blog, he said no. To be honest, I was surprised. But, as only Dan would do, he sat there quietly for a few minutes. Then he looked up at me and said "I've said everything I needed to say. It's not my fault if people weren't listening."

I hope people will go back and read his blog posts. So many people DID listen to him. We may forget sometimes, but we were listening. And the things he stood for are things we can share.

I didn't know how I would feel when this day rolled around. I feel some relief- I made it a full 365 days. And I am still standing. I haven't done things perfectly, but I SURVIVED.

I feel blessed to have made so many new friends over the past year- many of whom were introduced to me by Dan but that I never really knew.

I feel loved by a lot of people. Too many people, really- it's almost embarrassing.

I feel motivated to carry on Dan's work. I feel responsible to those that don't have what we did, and I understand that we were fortunate in many ways.

I feel sad for Dan and all that knew him. I feel sad his nieces and nephews will not get to know him.

And I am thankful. Thankful for the life we lived, and the life he left me.

Dan- you are missed every day. We all love you so much and hope that we are making you proud.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Although this blog was originally for the two of us, and eventually for me, I know that it has helped those that loved Dan as well. It has been a place where we all share our thoughts, and where we know Dan's memory lives on. The comments and postings bring comfort to our extended family.

Please take the time to read the posts from Dan's family below, and feel free to add your own memories.

From Dan's Sister Cindy

Even though the Waegers are a pretty tight family, as Danny’s oldest sibling (9 ½ years older), I wasn’t always around for every event in Dan’s life. By the time he got to high school, I pretty much was already moved out of the house and attending law school. I didn’t always know all of his friends, who he was taking to the prom or his teammates on the golf team. However, I did meet many of them while I was home on breaks or for a birthday party, but I wasn’t there every day. I feel very fortunate to have been living in Baltimore when Dan was diagnosed with cancer since he chose to go for treatment at Johns Hopkins. I got to go to every appointment and Dan even lived with me for a couple of months while undergoing daily radiation. These definitely weren’t the best days of his life, but they were time I got to spend with him.

In 2006, I had to move to Hawaii. It was really difficult for me to be so far away from Dan and the rest of my family, especially in those final months. Those days when I feel bad that I didn’t get to spend as much time with Danny in his final 3 years as I would have liked to, I take great comfort in realizing how many people’s lives Dan has touched. I am grateful for how many friends he has and how many people were there for him every day. I am grateful for all of the people that he met through the cancer groups he was involved in, through the speeches he gave, through NCCF, through his job, and through just being a normal, outgoing young adult. I don’t know who all of these people are and most I have never and probably never will meet. But the fact that they were friends with Danny and cared about him makes me proud to be his sister and makes me feel better when I get down.

When I read an email or a blog or hear about something that someone is doing in Dan’s name or even someone saying that they only met him once but they remember him and pray for him, it makes me realize that while Dan’s time was short, he made a big impact and people really cared about him. Knowing that so many people cared about him consoles me when I am having “one of those days.” I want to thank all of those people for everything you have said and done, your thoughts and actions has been one of the things that has helped me through the past year.


Cindy Waeger Fee

From Dan's Sister Holly

I admit I’ve been more emotional the last few weeks, and more sad, and many more things have just reminded me of Danny. With all these thoughts flooding my head lately, so have images of the last few weeks of his life – not all of them joyful or pretty. But, in times like this, I try to reach for the more joyful memories and hold on to those. Even as Danny was close to the end, we managed to find joy each day. But, I think a part of Danny wished for us to remember life before he was sick. I think he appreciates the inspiration he was as a cancer survivor, but that’s not all he was. He was a brother, a friend, a son, a golfer, a guy, a kid who left his room horribly messy, who had his lazy moments, who believed he could talk to dogs like Cesar, who loved ketchup, who enjoyed cheap beer, and who once rode an ostrich and hugged a rhino!

To remember him this week, I’d like to share a few photos of this Danny to try to re-enforce these memories and push out some of the not as joyful ones. I hope you enjoy as much as I did finding them!

From Dan's Sister Patrice

An excerpt from the last letter Patrice wrote to Dan-

I have tried to write this letter so many times but writing a letter cannot begin to express the real feelings I have. The Most Important thing I want to say is that I LOVE YOU with all my heart. I ask myself over and over WHY? I still do not understand why you are going through this and why it is not one of us. The only reason I feel an ounce of peace is because you seem at peace with it and you have been so strong--so I know that I must follow your lead.

It is amazing HOW MANY people lives you have changed for the better. I hope that what I have learned by watching you makes me touch even a small % of the people you were able to touch in your life.

I am so proud of you and honored to have you as my little brother.

I am so glad I got to share all of our childhood experiences with you. Your presence in my life has helped make me a better person. The lessons you have taught me I will make sure to instill in my kids.
I can still remember the day when Mom told us she was having a baby. You were the only sibling I remembered as a baby, I remember telling my friends that My Mom is going to have a baby and being so so excited! We all loved you so much that we would fight over you and would pull your arms out of the sockets. We still love you this much and tug at you in new ways that may drive you crazy at times but know that it is because we love you!

With everything that is happening I keep remembering how smart you were as a child. It was always like you were more ahead of your time---more wise and knew things that a normal child at your age would never know. And I realize now that your whole life you have been more mature, more wise--maybe that is why you are a deeper thinker--it is like you were an "old soul" and had inner wisdom. I believe that possibly this is some explanation of how you can handle all this so well--you have inner strength and wisdom--well beyond your years.

I am so glad you found Meg and I will still never forget the day when you called me to tell me you were engaged. I had never heard you SO HAPPY in all your life--I could just tell you were beaming from ear to ear. it was so wonderful to hear you in such a total state of bliss. I am so happy that the 2 of you found each other and have shared as much happiness and love as possible in these past 2 years.

I will think of you and your “will win” attitude every day despite how much heartache it brings right now. Your strength, determination, courage and winning attitude will live on in our household forever.
I love you more than this letter can ever convey….
Love, Patrice

From Dan's Dad

As the first anniversary of Dan’s death approaches I have been thinking more and more as to how much I miss him.

How I miss yelling at the “infallible “referee during his HS soccer games about a particular call involving Dan’s play. How I miss playing golf with him but never being able to score lower than him. I realized that at an early age he exhibited toughness, enough that when 2 of his siblings would pull on his arms from opposite directions, his elbow would painfully dislocate. Ultimately, after multiple occurrences, he “grinned and beared it” and we learned to put his elbow back into place without an ER visit.

Beyond any physical sensitivity he had a wonderful emotional sensitivity. As he matured he became a romantic. He was truly smitten with Meghan and was a creative romantic when it came to her.

It is said that you can tell a lot about your child by observing who he hangs around with. Dan chose his friends very carefully as evidenced by their loyalty to him during his illness and after his death. He also looked up to and emulated his siblings and stepbrother, Brendon. I am sad that they can no longer enjoy their mutual companionship.

He loved his co-workers and his employment at NCCS, and had ambitions that he did not live long enough to achieve.

When you raise a child and try to the best of your ability to educate them and set them free into the real world, a parent always questions if you did enough. I learned that while he attended graduate school and after graduation he matured and I saw first hand that Dan was well equipped to enter society as well as maintain a positive attitude and inner strength to work thru his treatment.

I’ll never understand why God chose him or our family for this tragedy. There are thousands of books written about the complex issue and questions surrounding death, each containing scholarly answers. I believe that his death brings me closer to life, closer to my adult children, grandchildren and close friends. A life we should enjoy in his honor. He died without fear and with very few disappointments.

My disappointment is that I wished he lived longer and then I could have loved and respected him longer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Memories- From Dan's Mom

I've received a lot of nice notes and emails this week. Dan's mom Cicily sent these pictures to me along with a few words about him.

All moms who love being a mother have special feelings for their final baby. Danny was my "baby", even into adulthood and to the end. Look at his beautiful smile. He was the most perfect baby, always happy and easy going. I used to tell people that Dan could not have been a more perfect baby is he were Jesus himself. Dan was the most laid back person I ever knew, and it started in his infancy. He was always so pleasant. I'm surprised he learned to walk because he was always being carried by his 3 older sisters. I miss him so very much! Cis

This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of Dan as an adult. It was taken in Jan. of 2004 when Dan and I went to Kenya to visit his sister Holly and her husband EJ who were working in Nairobi for 2 years. Dan and I were blessed with a 3 week trip to Kenya. What a lovely time to bond, way before cancer was in the picture. Dan even reported to his siblings that mom was not a pain in the butt, despite my weird sleep rituals. This particular photo was taken on one of the safaris we took with Holly and EJ. It brings me many pleasant and happy memories. Cis

Monday, March 8, 2010


Many people have asked what I will be doing next week to mark the one year anniversary of Dan's death. I have to admit that the topic was causing me stress, as I am sure it was others who are trying to figure out what to say to me or even do on their own. I really did struggle with it. Dan died on March 16, and my birthday is the next day. For those that don't know me, I love my birthday. I was born on St. Patrick's Day (in a car, mind you- kudos mom and dad for pulling that one off). Since I am Irish Catholic, and spent every year having my birthday celebrated at my parent's annual St. Patrick's Day bash, I had come to know that when March 17 rolls around, there will be a party.

Last year, Dan and I actually talked about the potential that he might pass on my birthday. I actually asked him not to- as if he could be so kind to grant me that wish! Well, he actually did. Even more amazing... he managed to send me flowers all on his own despite his condition. Only Dan would be on his deathbed and still manage to make sure there was one last gift from him.

As the anniversary has been approaching, I really didn't know what to do with the fact that one of the darkest days of my life is now the day before one of my favorite days. What does one do on the anniversary of a death? For me, it has become all about doing something Dan would have done. I know that he wouldn't have sat inside and felt sorry for himself, so that is not an option for me. For some, a good way to remember him may be hitting the driving range for the first time this season. Or it could be going for a short run (he was training for a marathon when he was diagnosed). Maybe it's just as simple as picking up with phone and calling a friend who has been down or you haven't talked to in awhile. Maybe it's having a Miller Lite and making a toast to him. Or taking the dog for an extra long walk. I can't imagine Dan would want us all to be sad- after all, it was Dan who left me with the 90/10 rule: It's ok if you want to cry, but limit it to 10% of your time.

And it was Dan who so often spoke about his attitude towards his diagnosis in this way- if you're going to sit around and think about cancer, you might as well do something about it. So after much thought, I decided that I wanted to go visit other young adults currently undergoing treatment on March 16 at the University or Maryland Cancer Center. I know some people think this is crazy- why in the world would I want to be around anything to do with cancer on that day ?!?!?! Well, because it feels like the right thing to do to honor Dan and respect the legacy he left us. And maybe just by talking to these patients, they might get a break from the monotony of the hospital. Plus, I decided to bring a few gift bags with treats because I would have loved to have had someone do that for those of us that were waiting during treatments.

And it also feels like the right thing to do for me. I've come to understand why some people are fireman or rescue workers. These are people who run into burning buildings or disaster areas when everyone else is running out. I used to think these people were nuts. Now, I think that these people go in because they know they CAN. They know what they have inside. I kinda get that now. I understand what I went through (still going through) is tough. But I am able to look back and realize that last year at this time was tough, and I made it through, so I will keep going. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I am taking guidance from Dan- I am just going to make that small effort to do something good with what I've learned. So for me, I want to be no other place on March 16 then a place that allows me to give back and connect with others going through what I did. And then that night, I am going to celebrate the birthday of a family friend. Because Dan would have insisted on keeping going with all the fun things in life as well. As for my birthday- I look forward to celebrating it with family and friends and green beer.

I actually like that the anniversary falls the day before my birthday now. I like that I have a day to remember Dan, feel a little sad and hopeful. And then have a reason to celebrate the next day. It makes me feel close to him. And I know I will be able to see many friends and family during this time, which helps us all.

I hope you won't be afraid to laugh that day. Remember all the fun Dan had in life. The huge smile he always wore, and his character and good nature. He lived more than many of us ever will, and he will live on through us as well.

PS- If anyone does anything really fun, let me know! And please don't be afraid to post, write or call. Don't feel like you'd upset me or you won't know what to say. I think it's gonna be ok.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Like a Lion

Well, the appointed month is here... many of us have commented that it can't possibly be a year since we lost Dan, and I am at the top of the list. I have never been one for anniversaries of bad days. Mainly because if I wake up and feel ok... then what- should I feel bad that I feel ok? But there is no denying that this month will be hard... his death falls the day before my birthday, and on the birthday of a dear family friend currently battling the disease. We were engaged March 21, and our wedding was to be March 28th. I can't say that I am looking forward to this month AT ALL... but I also can't hide away for the next 28 days.

I know it's a hard time for me, but it's also a hard time for Dan's family, friends, colleagues, my family and friends. No one really knows what to say- people say they can imagine it must be a tough time. I don't always know how to answer that line- some days, it's the last thing I want to hear because I don't want to be reminded (though I am so thankful people are thinking of all of us). Other days- you might get an earful from me in response!

Lately, I have been feeling very tired. I think part of it is my body physically remembering what it was like last year for me- not sleeping and a absorbing an awful lot of emotional trauma, as well as physically caring for someone by myself for the most part. I don't sleep all that well- at first, I thought it was stress of work or something else. But duh- the body remembers. At this point last year, there were no nights of restful sleep for either of us... we were in the business of round-the-clock care.

I am somewhat amazed at how much we handled ourselves. Pretty much all of of it... there were no nurses here, no doctors in & out... just a few hours of visits by close family and friends each day. How did we do that- so young and not knowing a thing about what was happening to Dan physically. But we managed, as we always did. Recently I had the chance to sit with my doctor for about an hour and ask her all sorts of questions about what happened those past few weeks... why certain things were going on physically with Dan. At the time, we just knew he didn't have long to live, but I had no idea what I was watching. And understanding that now has been a relief for me... I didn't even realize it was bothering me. As my doctor said- who else would you ever ask these questions of... you're not a doctor or a nurse or a health professional! It was all happening so fast that it was a very reactionary time for us.

Not long after Dan died someone told me that when he lost his mom, it took a full year to really start to acknowledge/understand what had happened. When I first heard that- I didn't believe it. After a year, you've gone through all the major holidays. You've gone back to work. You've put a little distance in between the loss and your everyday life. Well, I get it now. I just had no idea that it would take this long to comprehend the enormity of the whole situation. Not just the personal loss, but the complete uncertainty in my life now. I've learned that things can always get worse, and you just have to focus on what is in front of you at the moment.

After a year, people have this idea that you should be ok and that you should be moving on. No way. No way at all folks. After a year, I only look back and really how thankful I am that I just survived it. Moving forward is a whole other topic. Some days it seems like a dream. I imagine for Dan's family and friends that didn't see him every day, it feels like they just haven't talked to him in awhile. I've thrown everything at this grief to make it go away- triathlons, work, volunteering, traveling... filling the void without stopping to really acknowledge or understand what really happened. I've been told I've handled it exceptionally well- but by what standards? That I didn't "fall apart"... I have a little, at least in the way I normally do things. I don't feel sorry myself, because I did have Dan in my life, and he never felt sorry for himself. But to say that this isn't hard, that it doesn't hurt, that it doesn't make me question things... that doesn't do anyone else who is grieving his loss any favors. It doesn't say- it's ok to be angry and emotional and sad some days. What happened to Dan was tragic. For his parents to lose a son, his siblings to lose their brother, his nieces and nephews to only know the story of who he was, his friends... it's not right.

Dan made us all feel hopeful that we could take obstacles and overcome them. And when someone so young leads by such a strong example, we can feel guilty when we don't feel so positive. But Dan had all those emotions... our life wasn't inspirational every day. But what we did do was not attempt to solve everything in one day- we would have drowned. I didn't know him when he was diagnosed, but we spoke often of what it was like for him emotionally. And he had emotions- doubt, fear, loneliness. But he somehow managed not to be overwhelmed. Because he channeled them into good things- his passion for cancer advocacy, being a "normal" guy, his family and friends. He was an exceptional person- no doubt. And perhaps the greatest thing he gave me during our time together was the right to cry and be scared. He didn't let it go on too long, but I he always let me go when I needed to, and somewhere along the way this year I forgot about that gift. So it's ok... if you want to be angry, scared, sad, lonely... joyful, inspired, determined... it's plain ok. Get it out... do something with it. Don't withdraw. Do something with those emotions, even if it's just to say you miss him. Or like me- to say WTF happened here.

March is coming in like a lion folks.... it's gonna be a bumpy ride.