They say we are put on this earth for a reason, and one of those reasons is to be tested. We all are tested in various ways and how we deal with those tests has a huge impact not only on our lives but on everyone else connected with us. The outcome might be a positive but also a negative, but it is down to the individual to decide whether the outcome is good or bad.
My Test was Cancer. Every time you hear that term, that word, that phrase and that disease you instantly think of Death. Cancer is a strong enigma that affects many people around the world and its increasing day by day. We all have it, and what triggers it off is the most scientific question out there. I have been affected by it and still am, but not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. Cancer is not just an enigma but it is a killer and day by day more and more people are dying from it. There are many forms of cancer and yes some are life threatening and some are most definitely curable, but having Cancer is Still Cancer regardless the form you have.
This is my story
We as individuals know our own bodies and we should know the limits of our bodies, and when we reach them we know when to stop. For me, I knew my limit the day I woke up one March morning in 2009 when I felt pains in both of my groins. The pains were so sharp it was as if somebody was stabbing me constantly. I made an appointment to see my local GP doctor and saw them that morning, they inspected my body and informed me there was nothing to worry about. Their solution was to take some pain killers in the form of Paracetamol to ease the pain, but if the pain continued do not hesitate to come back. That is easier said than done really as it was not their body feeling it. Over the next few weeks I was becoming more fatigued and my calm attitude to things was getting pushed to the limit as I was feeling tired, getting annoyed with small things, my mind set was changing and I was getting very irritable. What was worrying me though was the fact I was losing interest with life, I was not showing my wife who at the time was my partner any attention and affection and became disillusioned with everything. Weeks went by and as a male you have male pride and you think to yourself I can fight this pain whatever it is and I will just grit my teeth and it will pass.
June 12th 2009 was a really emotional day in my life, my dear sister got married, she was at the altar with her husband to be and my aunty whose very religious ( by way I have enormous family) looked across at me and still informs me to this day she saw tears running down my cheeks. That was probably the first moment of my life I knew something might be wrong with my health. This aunt calls me the bionic man (hmm bless her). On the following Monday morning I woke up with this huge pain in my groin and I couldn’t walk, so I made my way to the doctor surgery. I saw my doctor and she informed me she was going to refer me to the Hospital (Derriford Hospital), she told me to rest a few weeks and hopefully nature will take its course. On Wednesday I went into work, and everyone had this inkling that something might be up with me, as I was not the chirpy chap I am. I informed management I will need time to rest and I left it with them. That night I felt a sharp pain in my groin, I went to the bathroom and investigated and saw that my left testicle was swollen.
By the Thursday I had a letter through my front door stating I had an appointment at the hospital on June 22nd to see a doctor called Dr Dewey. It made me laugh because my brother in law is called Dewey. On that Thursday I was nervous because of what I indentified previously and I saw this doctor and we went through some really personal questions about my sex life, my wife’s sex life our sexual partners and whether we both smoke and take drugs. I thought I was being interrogated by the police, which was wrong. The doctor inspected my groin and my swelling. He kept squeezing it and I could see and feel the veins bulge out in front of me. He informed me what I had been feeling was normal for men and he classed it as a WATER INFECTION. I said I want a second opinion, so he got another specialist to check and he agreed with his diagnosis. Doctor Dewey then informed me he was referring me to see another specialist to see whether I have contracted STD, which was a damn insult and I told him that. He referred me to the GUM clinic at the bottom of the hospital to see a doctor called Dr Challander (I think that how you spell her name). I went there the following morning and it was like the 1960’s in America where you had civil rights conflict. The reception was separated into 2 areas. The Men went in on the left and the women went in on the right. It was interesting but strange, to make it worst the receptionist would never call your name out, which was probably due to data protection maybe. This was the first time I was given a hospital number which given me identification. Hospital number 90521 will play a major part in my life.
I saw this doctor, and for the first time ever somebody told me the truth about my health, she was brutally honest but told me the truth and she got my respect right from the start. She inspected me and was shocked with what she saw and told me the truth. I had to give her a swab sample from my foreskin on my penis, which was so painful; tears were running down my face, it was that bad. She looked at me and told me these few words that changed my life forever. “Dan, I have been a GUM specialist for over 25 yrs, and I have never seen something this bad, if this swab doesn’t come back clear, I am 99% sure you have cancer”. How would you react to that?? She then said to me, “When is your ultrasound”? I told her 5 weeks… She looked at me and said “you could be dead by then “. She sent me down there right away for a scan and informed me to ask plenty of questions. I had the scan and I saw it on the screen, the nurse was talking to her colleague in medical jargon and I wanted to know answers, so they told me to go back to the GUM the next Day and I will be told the outcome.
I was very anxious that evening and didn’t sleep a wink and you can imagine the thoughts going through my mind, but I had to stay positive whatever the outcome was. The next morning arrived and I got myself to the GUM clinic and was sitting there in a daze waiting & waiting till my number was called. I went in and saw the Dr and she sat me down and informed my they found a mast on my ultrasound and it was size of a golf ball and they wouldn’t say through my notes what my diagnosis was, which annoyed my considerably and most def the doctor. She informed me she will be chasing it up right away and I will find out within a few days. Weeks went by and I heard nothing, and during this time my energy levels were getting worse and my strength was detteriating. It all changed on the morning of July 14th when I received a letter through the post saying I had to attend an appointment to see a special called Dr Percy on July 23rd. So I had 9 days to stay calm and positive until that day arrived.
So the day arrived, and I went to work in the morning as I had to keep myself busy as I would stop and think of things. My appointment was at 3pm and I knew deep down this could be really bad, as we all know our own bodies and we all know when something is hurting and I knew my body was in pain. So I went to the Surgical Assessment ward of the hospital with my wife and I sat there in the waiting room clicking my fingers as I was getting nervous. I was called in to the office to see the doctor and he sat me down, we exchanged a brief conversation and wanted to inspect my body etc. He looked and inspected me thoroughly and sat me down. The next thirty seconds were going to change my life forever. He said how brave I was and that was a testament to me and then just said it; “You are unwell, you look unwell and your body is definitely unwell, I’m 99.99 % sure you have Testicular Cancer”. “The 0.01 % means you might have a water infection” That little statement made me smile, but my heart dropped as I kind of knew it. Hearing that put many thoughts into my head; I’m going to die, I won’t reach the age of 30, I won’t see my wedding day if I ever got married. The one thing that worried me was how the hell I was going to tell my family, my friends & work colleagues. Dr Percy told me I needed to have an operation soon as possible as he didn’t want my health to get worst, so he rang his PA whilst I was there. He was haggling with her on the telephone to see when he had a free date in his diary. He put the phone down and said to me “Be here on Monday 27th (which is my dad’s birthday) as 8.30am and I will be removing your testicle and hopefully that will cure you”.
I went away in a daze and was in shock and heartbroken. But first of all I had to have all my pre-op checks and that was really demoralising. We went to my parent’s house to tell them but nobody was there, so we popped down to see my aunty & uncle who live right behind my parents in the next street. We sat down and told them, my auntie broke her heart. It should’ve been my mum I was telling first, but like always she never there. My mother seems to never be there when you need her the most, but in time it was the signs to come with our relationship as I was the victim not her. I asked my auntie & uncle please don’t inform my mum & dad about it; just pretend to be shocked when she tells them as my mother would get annoyed and I didn’t need it. We then went and saw my other auntie & uncle who lived near us at the time and my uncle was gutted for me. He just told me to be strong and everyone will be there when I wake up from the operation. That is easier said than done trust me. Telling my parents was tough as my mum broke her heart and it’s not nice seeing your mum cry like a baby. We went home and that evening my telephone didn’t stop ringing till I went to bed and I had to repeat it every time, it was unfair on me, I know they all meant well, but I was not given time to take it in, digest the fact I Had Cancer. But all I was doing was thinking of everybody else. That’s me all over, thinking of everyone. Next morning I had to go to work and tell all my work force and manager and that was heartbreaking for me. I told my manager and I broke my heart and I think we both cried for about 30 minutes. That day I was in a complete daze and by the end of the day everyone knew about it. It was nice to know they cared but also hard for me as I was the victim not them. It was a real emotional moment in my life for me and I needed time to accept it but it wasn’t to be. The next few days were long and all I was focused on was Monday morning.
The day of destiny arrived and my mum, auntie and my wife came with me to the hospital, I think they wanted to be there for me when I woke up. The Dr saw me at 08.30am and told me the procedure he was going to do etc. They called me in at 12.30pm and I had to get dressed into a gown etc. The next hour was a blur as I sat there waiting. I went down to the theatre at 1400 and all I could remember was seeing the surgeon wearing a Liverpool football club bandana. I came round in the aftercare room at aprrox 1730 and first thing I said to the nurse was I couldn’t breathe properly. She went and got my surgeon and he decided it was best for me if I stayed overnight in hospital so they could monitor my condition. I needed to rest and it was the best decision. They wheeled me up to the surgical assessment unit where I stayed overnight. By the time I got there I had nearly 20 visitors waiting for me, and it was nice to see as I needed to feel normal. I slept like a log that night as I was shattered. The next morning I saw the ward doctor and informed her I still felt groggy and she was really rude to me stating “I was only under the knife for 2 hrs”. I told her, “Let me remind you that I’m the patient and you are the damn doctor”. They discharged me that afternoon knowing I still felt unwell, that is the problem with the NHS in this country, yes we have some of the best doctors & surgeons in the world, but they treat you like a number and that is bad. They just gave me plenty of painkillers and told me to rest. They didn’t even tell me that the hospital will be in touch. I was just a number to them. I was happy to go home though, but knew I was feeling unwell and nobody at the hospital cared. They needed the bed more than needing to care for me, and that is one thing seriously wrong with the NHS in this country, it’s all about figures to them not the welfare of the patients.
I was home and it felt like heaven, yes I was in loads of pain as I just had surgery but I knew I was in the best place to recover. Over the next few days I had many visitors who came to keep my spirits up and keep me focused for the battle ahead, as we all knew there were many more tough times ahead. On 3rd August 2009 I felt really unwell at home, I was sweating like a pig but also feeling cold all over. I was feeling groggy to and had a few friends round during day. My wife was at work as I told her she needed normality as it was unfair on her. As I said throughout that day I was feeling really unwell, so I told my friends to call my parents. They did, but just like my parents they were out buying a new car, so they sent my auntie & uncle instead, which really hurt. They arrived I think within 15 minutes and I will be grateful for that forever. By this time I was shaking and my wife just arrived home, she got upset as she was not informed first. They decided between themselves to call 999 and emergency services arrived very soon after. They did a full examination of me and told me I was allergic to the medication and I should still be in hospital. They gave me some morphine to ease the pain and told me to rest and don’t hesitate going to the hospital if the pain increases. I was in hot sweats but my body was very cold, a real odd combination I know, but it worked.
Over the next few weeks, my muscles were beginning to get some strength but there were days I felt helpless. I made arrangements to see my best mate in his pub and my parents dropped me there. He saw me and he got all emotional as he didn’t know what to expect. Simple things can affect many people in different ways, it affected him. That night my energy went completely and I was bed ridden. For some stupid reason I went back to work the following week. I know now it was stupid of me, but I didn’t want to feel helpless or useless. I went into work and informed everyone I didn’t want any special treatment and wanted to be treated the same as everyone else. I went back to work four weeks after having the Operation to remove Cancer. I think at that time I thought work needed me, they probably did, but I needed rest, but me being me, had to get on I guess.
It was mid September 2009 by now and I was getting a little worried as I had not heard anything from the hospital as it was 6 weeks since my operation. I went to the GUM clinic and saw Dr Challander to express my concerns; she agreed and was angry that I was pushed to one side as if I didn’t exist. She informed me she will do everything she can to get things sorted for me. I owe this lady a huge amount of respect for the way she has treated me, and one day I will personally thank her. Within 2 days I received a letter through my post from the hospital stating I had an Oncologist appointment with a doctor called Dr Highley. The appointment was in the Oncology Department, which was located on Level 2 of the hospital. My appointment was for 20th September.
The day arrived and I went there with my wife or should I say fiancé at time to see him. He sat me down and for the first time I found out I actually had Cancer. I told him I was disgusted with the hospital for not even informing me about my health as it was nearly 8 weeks since my operation. He agreed and said he was unhappy about the situation. We discussed my health and he told me I had a tumour in my testicle the size of a golf ball, which had to be removed and it was done successfully. He also told me I had Cancer too, so I had the two to contend with, no wonder I was ill. He discussed with me the options we had to make sure I overcome the illness. He gave me three options; option 1 was to take medication for rest of my life and hope the Cancer disappears, option 2 was; take no medication and let the illness beat me or option 3 was; have Chemotherapy and beat the illness. I said to him “Option 3 please, its easy choice as I like a battle”. He then informed my there are legal forms I have to sign etc as I am putting my life in his hands and I had to give my consent for the treatment. He then discussed with the type of treatment he wanted to give me. He told me he wanted to give me the strongest possible and he decided on Chloraplatin (I think I spelt it wrong). He informed me that this type of drug is being used to treat patients with Breast & Ovarian Cancer. He wanted to do the treatment in one session as he wanted to kill the illness before it spread through my body. He suggested 500ml and I agreed to the treatment. He did inform me that sessions are usually based over 50ml sessions; I did my maths and calculated it to 10 sessions in 1. He pencilled me in for the treatment for October 5th 2009 and told me it will last 4 hrs. Before my treatment though he informed me I had to have my hearing tested, eyes looked at and have a few body scans to make sure the treatment would not affect my body because if it could affect me, they wouldn’t do the treatment. The tests came back fine, but were informed I had one kidney larger than the other. He did warn me though there is a list of potential after effects from the treatment and made me aware of every possible outcome. I told him I can face anything as long as he cured me. Little did I know that this treatment wiped me out completely? He also informed me the risks that can happen in future life from the treatment as Chemo not only wipes out all your blood cells it also affects your sperm levels. This risk could harm the chances of me having children in future life. He suggested I donated sperm to a sperm clinic within the hospital 2 times a week leading up to the treatment. Here they will freeze my good sperm and it lasts for 25 years etc and I can have access to it any time I like. The clinic was called the Ocean Suite Clinic. It was very weird going there on a Tuesday & Friday leading up to my treatment. I was given legal documents for that too, so much paperwork I say. It was like a prison in there locked rooms the lot.
The day arrived, I was nervous as I was really feeling weak but I knew this doctor knew what he was doing. I walked into the Oncology department and they were all friendly to me, made me feel at ease. The receptionist was an angel, her name is Tricia. She is still there now too. I then was escorted into this little room. I had to sit in the chair; it was like a dentist chair and the nurse came in, and we shared a few jokes with each other. She then informed me of the potential side effects from the treatment, I didn’t know I might lose my hair. I sat there and I watched her wire me up to this machine as she placed the first 250ml of drug into my blood stream. It was horrible watching it. The first hour went by very quickly but then I became very weak and the nurse went and got me a sandwich and some juice to give me an energy boost. By this time the drug was kicking it. The nurse noticed my muscles in my hands and fingers were beginning to turn in which meant I was getting weak. She began to massage them and then did my feet. Before I knew it the whole entire 500 ml was in my blood stream and body. At the end of the session the nurse pumped a steroid drug into my blood steam to give my some energy boost. She did warn me it will ware off in 72 hrs and be prepared for the backlash. I walked out of that clinic somehow as I didn’t want to feel incapable. If I am correct my lips were dark blue, I was that weak.
The following morning I woke up and yes the backlash was starting to act already as I couldn’t walk or open my eyes properly. I told my future wife at time to go to work, but I knew she was hurting inside as I was trying to protect her as I didn’t want to see her see me in pain. By the end of the day I couldn’t lift my head and I had my parents and aunty around and my parents were adamant I had to go stay with them to recuperate. I heard my wife crying upstairs, I went and saw her and she told me “Everyone thinks I can’t look after you”. I didn’t go to my parents. Within a few days I couldn’t open my eyes, walk properly, lift my head or even function correct and I was sick and vomiting all time. My future Mother in Law decided enough is enough and we went to Devon Docs, which is an out of hour’s surgery. We sat there for about 25 minutes and I was called in to see the doctor. She was in total disbelief that I was not in hospital as my head was pounding. That night I was admitted to the Cancer ward at Derriford Hospital.
Over the next 24 hrs I was placed in to an isolated room where I was not even allowed any visitors so they could monitor my health. I needed the rest to be honest so it was probably a good move at the time. The following morning the doctor came saw me and informed me I am now ok to be placed somewhere more comfortable within the ward. I was happy with just a bed and a window to look out. I was moved to my own en suite room where I had my own huge TV, bathroom, shower the lot. I was in luxury, but it felt nice to be looked after. If I ever wanted anything, anytime of the day they would get it for me. I was in that Cancer ward for 8 days I think and it was the most humbling experience of my life and those nurses do a fantastic job looking after the sick and I was one of them. You don’t realise how lucky you are, every day I couldn’t function properly and I had many visitors and most of the time I wanted them to leave me alone. Mustard Tree was very good too, I might not have appreciated it at the time, but they helped me so much and I am eternally grateful to them. I do remember a member of Mustard Tree visiting me every day and I kept telling to Piss Off. He meant well and he said a few things to me that got lodged into my head and I will remember them forever. The most important thing he said was “you have so much to fight for, if doesn’t want to fight for it you might as well give up”. For some reason that spurred me on, to prove to myself not nobody else that I am somebody and I have so much to fight for. I got out of my bed I think within a few hours to show them all. The day I left that ward I bought flowers chocolates the lot for them all as it was just a small thank you. But in time I realised I have to do more to say thank you
I went home and I felt fresh and ready for the battle. I am born into a family of winners and I always play to win. I kept telling myself this is a battle Cancer won’t win and I still tell myself it now 4 years later. I was off work 13 weeks as I needed to maximise my recovery. I went and saw my doctor just before I was due back to work and they were really rude to me. She said something in the words of “Oh you are still alive then”, “I did warn you about your health”. It was as if it was my fault. I actually complained about it. Every four to six months I have appointments at the hospital where they do a full body scan when they insert Radio Active Dye into my blood stream to see if the Cancer has gone; it’s very nervous waiting for those results as it takes 3 weeks and then I get told the outcome by Dr Highley. Dr Highley is a wonderful man and i owe my life to him, hes my savour, I not told him that yet, but he knows I respect him highly. I even adore his team around him, they all do fantastic jobs. Yes my body will always be affected by illnesses and infections as its rebuilding and it takes years to grow back to the level it needs to be at, but it’s not like having the flu or a migraine or back ache; Cancer is a killer and it nearly killed me. I am proud to say I have had Cancer and will be even prouder to say that next year in October 2014 when I will be medically discharged. There are so much though that irritates me through all this process, everyone thinks it’s easy to fight this. They mean well I know, but trust me it’s so tough having this inside you, knowing one day it can come back and beat you. People say you are so strong, we are so proud of you, you are amazing, yes they are lovely gestures but sometimes they are patronising. Whatever people go through its nothing that can compare to having Cancer, I laugh to myself when people say they have a cold and its killing them, they are so tired and ill… Hmmm ill is fighting Cancer. I’m not bitter towards THEM, I wouldn’t want it wished on anyone, but I hate patronising.
It’s strange that next year in October 2014 I will hopefully be medically discharged. I have just recently finished, having Counselling Sessions through the NHS and spend time monthly with a wonderful person called Vicky Kooner who has helped me deal with my thoughts and my past. I have total respect for her. I have always wanted to do something to say as a thank you to all the people who have cared for me over the past 4-5 years through this difficult time and Vicky bless her had encouraged me with the thought of creating a foundation/ charity where we can offer support to people with Cancer or have people going through it. It might take 5 or 10 yrs to build but I am thinking about it. But in mean time I am planning to create the 1st ever “Pants To Cancer Race”, where I am hoping to have a Race where men can embrace the occasion and join me in the celebration that we can beat Cancer together. It is not about me now, it’s about everyone else and that is why making awareness of Men fighting Cancer is important.
Over the next few weeks many thoughts had gone through my mind, how am I going to achieve this and why am I doing this?..what do I achieve by doing this??…but it suddenly clicked, I can’t and won’t let any other male go through what I had to go through and I will thrive to make sure this is the final thing I do, even if that means I tell the world my story. But I could not achieve this alone so I had to enlist the help of some of the most kindest and most wonderful people I have ever met….
In early January 2014, it dawned on me that I had entered my final year of remission and the battle was still on to make sure that I won my battle with Cancer so I didn’t force things with my health. I managed though to sit down With the group of people I enlisted to help me with aims. We sat around the table and many ideas were thrown around regarding names etc and slogans and logos etc. Then finally we came up with a name that will last forever…DASH OF SILVER ‘Says Pants to Cancer’
It’s very humbling to have something named after yourself, but this was just the beginning of a long journey to reach where we wanted to be. First of all we had to create a Small Constitution. A Small Constitution is a non for profit organisation that follows the rules of the Charity Commission and we had to follow those rules as we wanted to do everything that was legal. We also had to decide on whom the beneficiaries were from Dash of Silver. The team gave me the opportunity to decide on whom the beneficiaries were and I decided on three charities that I was very fond. So I decided on The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as they are the leading institute in the research and care of Curing Cancer, CLIC Sargent Southwest, as they care for patients from a very young age right up until adulthood and also support families during that difficult period. The final beneficiary is The Oncology Department at Derriford Hospital here in Plymouth as I know without their care and medical team I wouldn’t be here right now telling my story. We created our constitution and we began to work on our launch day for Dash of Silver. I began looking at different locations for our launch day whilst I was still going to Oncology for regular check ups. It was very humbling to see how far I had come since the day I walked into there on October 5th 2009. We finally found our location for our launch and it was Drakes Circus Shopping Mall here in Plymouth and the date set was for early July.
So we had a launch date, but nothing to launch, so we sat down as a team and discussed what events we wanted to create and launch successfully. I was very passionate about my plan for a male only race, where men can come together and embrace the moment together and create more awareness for Male Cancer. I also wanted a celebration where I could say thank you to many people and also create more awareness for Male Cancer. So we decided on a Dash of Silver race plus a Dash of Silver Celebration Ball.
I had to search for two locations for these two big events and do it quick..I approached Saltram House National Park and they were delighted to be the location for our first Dash of Silver Race. We decided on a date, as this was very personal to myself, I wanted it close as possible to my medically discharged date if possible. So we agreed on Sunday October 26th and that was just over 8 months away so we needed to plan right away. I also had to find a location for our Dash of Silver Ball. I then found the perfect location; The New Continental Hotel, and the date was set for Saturday November 1st.
Things were finally falling into place and it was very overwhelming as our launch day arrived. It was great to finally announce Dash of Silver to the general public and touch the heart of the general public. A few days later I entered Derriford Hospital to have my final 3 monthly scan before hopefully getting medically discharged a few months later. It was quite an emotional moment for me as I got very attached to the medical team there and we had a very good relationship, but it was a wonderful feeling knowing this could be the last scan I ever need.
As the months went by we continued to plan for our first major events as Dash of Silver, and October 14th came around very quickly. I was glad in way I had things to keep my mind occupied as I would be thinking about it daily. So the day of destiny arrived and I was very nervous, but wasn’t showing it. I knew deep down I had given my all in the last 5 years and I was hoping for those few words to come out of Dr Highley’s to be good. As soon as he said “Dan, you are medically discharged”,the biggest smile ever risen on my face. My wife got very emotional and broke her heart, and I knew it then, I was fighting not just for myself over the last five years, but was also fighting for her.. You could say I walked out of that department with a huge spring in my step. It then hit me that I had just successfully beaten Cancer.. It still hasn’t sunk in now, but at that time, I had a few moments to myself and thought of all the people who have supported me, visited me in my hours of need and inspired me to be here today… I then took a few moments to think of the less fortunate and thought you are still heroes in my eyes and I will give something back for you.
So I have just been medically discharged and now I am in full swing planning our big race only two weeks later. Myself and my team gave our all in planning that event and on Sunday October 26th we launched our 1st Dash of Silver ‘Says pants to Cancer’ race and we had 54 runners/walkers And it was a very proud but emotional moment for me, as they all turned up to support the cause and it made me extremely proud. Then the following week on the 1st November we had our 1st Dash of Silver Ball and we named it Dash of Silver ‘Scaring the pants off Cancer’ Masquerade Ball. That night was a very emotional, personal and inspiring occasion as we had 104 guests turn up and I hope they took something from that night as I talked about my battle with Cancer, and how Cancer affects us all and we need to fight back and don’t let Cancer win. We raised a huge amount of money from those two events, but money was never first on my agenda and still isn’t. Creating awareness is more valuable than any monies raised and will be our number one aim always.
Throughout the coming months I I worked very hard in creating more awareness via doing more interviews through the local newspaper or even attend health clinics via and supporting the NHS. I am very grateful for their support throughout my battle and in the future too as they do a wonderful job and it’s sometimes it goes unnoticed.
We had ended 2014 on a high when I announced that on March 1st 2015 we will be holding a charity football match between a Dash of Silver X1 v Plymouth Argyle Legends. My other love besides life is football and this was a great way to bring men together against our local heroes of former years. So I had to find a location very fast and I then found the perfect location for this occasion and that was Bolitho Park, which is the home of Plymouth Parkway football club.
We entered 2015 and I wanted this year to be the year of the Dash, as this was our opportunity to create something special. We had the Dash race, Dash ball and now the charity football match, our three big fundraisers to plan and make them spectacular and it’s been worth every sweat, every emotion and every tear. Our Dash charity football was getting close and my team was made up of family and friends whom I have known most of my life and they all came out to support me for this occasion. The day of the match was a horrible day as weather was horrid and wet and damp, but there is a god as throughout the match the sun was shining right up until the final whistle. We lost that game 1-0 unfortunately to a goal with the last kick of the game, but the result was not important, the occasion and why we were there is all that matters.
In the next few days we sat down as a team and decided we should apply for full charity status and on August 19th Dash of Silver become a registered charity. It is very humbling to have something named after yourself and it’s a such a honour to have such a wonderful team around me to make this happen. I want to leave a legacy so that in years to come people can say that Dash of Silver is named after Dan Silver, the man whom battled cancer and also went on a personal campaign to create more awareness for Male Cancer. I would never thought though that back in July 2009 I would be here 6 years later, have a charity named after myself and also recently be nominated for Pride of Plymouth 2015. It must say something about me…
It was approaching the time of the year where we held our annual Dash race and Dash Ball, I didn’t just have these events to think about and plan and I also had one eye on seeing whether I will be shortlisted for one of the awards for Pride of Plymouth 2015. It was early November when I had a letter in the post for me, but it was not just any other letter, it was a golden letter. I opened it up with anticipation and there is was, I was shortlisted for the Pride of Plymouth 2015 Fundraiser of the year award. You can imagine the excitement when reading that letter. The event was booked for Wednesday December 9th, which falls on my wife’s birthday, so it will be a night of celebration regardless of the outcome. The night was approaching and you can imagine I was getting excited but also nervous because for 30 seconds the whole auditorium will be focused on a short video about myself and our Charity Dash of Silver. You know, I am no hero, a hero is somebody whom puts their body on the line for this great country, I am just a honest, but very humble man whom wants to prevent somebody else go through a journey that affects not just them but everyone around them.
The evening arrived very quickly and my wife, my mother in law and myself were at Awards Ceremony and it was humbling to see so many wonderful people being nominated for different awards. The night went so quick, but it was one of the most defining moments of my life. Before the awards started, the local press officer caught me and asked if I wanted to do a pre awards interview, knowing me, I jumped at the chance to say something that was defining. We talked about various things and I was asked the question “Dan, what would it mean to you, if you won the award?” I replied with ” I would be very proud”. Then another question came out and was asked ” Dan, what would be your reaction, if you didn’t win?”…My answer to that question said a lot about me as a person and I replied with ” Win or lose, I’ve won already, I’m here to tell you all my story, so in my eyes I’ve won already”.
So let’s get back to the awards..
The night went so quick, as there were many different awards given, but I was getting very nervous as my award nomination was due…. Next award up is Fundraiser of the year…I was getting butterflies in my stomach as they showed short videos of us all. I was up against some of the most inspiring people in Plymouth, surely I couldn’t beat these?? I’m not in this to win the award was in my head. When he announced the winner is….Dan Silver, I slumped to my chair and I was in total shock. When I went up to collect the award, I had a few moments to myself and I reflected on all the people whom supported myself and my team at Dash, and without them, I wouldn’t be here to collect this award. You could say I was very emotional. So I am the proud winner of Pride of Plymouth 2015 Fundraiser of the year.
Since winning that award, I was approached by Cancer Research UK and they asked me to promote Dryathlon for the month of January for the South West. I said yes, as this was a great opportunity to promote Dash of Silver but also create more awareness for Male Cancer.
I have also been selected to be one of the finalists for Beautyunseen. This is a live show where ten outstanding people of the Southwest get totally their life experiences and take part in a live show. I personally am looking forward to this live show as it is a great opportunity for myself to tell the general public my personal story and also promote the importance of checking and knowing your body. It very exciting obviously but its also very personal to myself and i must make sure its right before its broadcasted. When I talk about my battle with Cancer i actually smile, but i also have moments when i sit back and think if it wasn’t for Cancer i wouldnt be the person I am today. I am a proud man for sure and its a great honour to know i wake up every day knowing i have something named after myself but i do know that i had to fight to be here and i will thrive to make sure that nobody else goes through what I had to go through.
People ask me, ‘ Why, do you do what you do? ‘I do it because I cant and wont let anyone go through it. Its not about me, and i would give up all the awards and nominations i get as its not about how much money we raise, its about awareness. I will always put my own health and welfare on the line if i knew what we were doing was saving a human being as thats the greatest reward.
We are Team Dash and i am very proud of Team Dash and everything we thrive to achieve. What does the future hold??? There is so much i want to achieve and i will achieve it as i am Mr Dash.
2016 was coming to a close and in early October I took to the stage and was one of the role models for the Beauty Unseen Live show at Bristol. It was one of the most humble experiences of my life, as I got to spend time with the most inspirational people I have ever met and they inspired me more than I can ever explain. Life is hard enough, but when you go through a life changing experience you have a different outlook on life. In Early November we held our annual Dash of Silver Ball, we had 199 guests that evening and we raised a stunning amount of money for Charity. That night though, I took the stage and announced that we at Dash of Silver, we are planning to create the FIRST MALE CANCER SUPPORT GROUP here in Plymouth. That’s our long term goal, and we will achieve it.
The year came to close with some sad news for me personal, my dear father sadly passed away over Christmas and it made me realise a few things and things that are most important. I remember my dad saying to me before he passed away ‘ Dan, Never forget whom you are and whom you represent, but most importantly never forget who you are’. My dad was extremely proud of the charity and what we stand for and the charity is named after him and he will always have an impact on the future of the charity. We will though fulfil our ambition to create that Male Cancer Support Group as it would be something my dad would be proud of.
2017 will be a massive year for Team Dash and we will continue to fulfil all our ambitions.
2017 was in full flow and we were looking into creating our Male Cancer Support group here in Plymouth, I was sitting in a local pub with the team having our monthly catch up and the owner of the establishment offered for us to hold them there.
April 2017 we launched our brand new Male Cancer Support Group called ‘ Dashnet’ Males affected by Cancer. I just wish my father was here to see it all happen, but I am 100% sure he is looking down on me always and smiling.
The launch of the group went very well, we are slowly getting Males attend and we know its gonna be a very long journey, but we are here for the long haul for sure.
The months went by and the team were working on creating awareness as best as we can, was planning our annual ball and hosting our annual charity football match and we sat down as a team and discussed what would ‘I want to do next’, is there anything I want to do ??
We sat there and I smiled at them all, and said ‘ through my battle, I always felt there was something I needed and was missing, but never got it from the right people etc’, and I also know there are people out there whom don’t have a support network around them, so why don’t we create Giftpacks and give them out to patients whom are battling Testicular Cancer here in Plymouth’??
It seems a simple thing to do right??, hmmm trust me it not something you can do overnight, so I spent months n months communicating with the team within the Oncology department as was trying to establishment how many patients there is etc. We were extremely proud in early 2018, when we presented Bea Hamilton, Uno Oncology Nurse Specialist our first batch of 20 giftpacks
I must say though, without many people and especially all of the general public, family & friends, we would never ever be able to achieve any of this, so thankyou all. You all are part of the Dash Family.
Its amazing though as certain things fall into place, I still sit here now pinching myself and think ‘surely, this is not because of me’. There have been times when all of this was about me, my battle, my life, my story, but its about the bigger picture now, its about everyone else, as cancer affects everyone indirectly or directly, so we at the charity are thriving to support everyone affected.