Daniel Damian – Florida

My name is Daniel, and this is my cancer story. On Sunday morning, October 31, 1994, as soon as I got up I started getting heart palpitations every time I moved, and every time I tried to get up I got very dizzy. I decided to wait, thinking that maybe it would go away, but it didn’t. Later on in the afternoon I called my wife at work and told her what was happening to me. She came home from work and convinced me to go to the hospital. Believe it or not, I did not want to go. A few hours after I was admitted, I had a blood transfusion. My blood level had been at 5, and the doctor told us that if I would have waited one more hour I would have died. The next day I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. There was a bleeding ulcer on top of a very deeply invasive aggressive tumor. One week later I had a total gastrectomy. I was only 27 years old at that time; I will be 48 this year. After the surgery I had six weeks of chemo and radiation just in case there were any microscopic cancer cells left after the surgery. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread to other organs, so I was extremely lucky. After that I was fed through an IV that I carried around with me in a backpack for about nine months. During this time I was trying to learn how to eat all over again; I could not mix liquids and solids. The eight or nine months after the surgery were worse than having the cancer itself! That time was one of the hardest times of my life; I didn’t know if I could make it without a stomach. I was very depressed and tired of drinking Ensure until my doctor pulled the IV and I either sank or swam.

After the IV I was really very optimistic. I decided I was not going to worry about how many calories I was taking in daily or how much liquids; I just programmed myself to eat and drink every time I got a chance during the day and that is what I have been during until now. I eat anything I can tolerate especially meats, bread and rice. I also enjoy drinking a Sam Adams and eating ceviche at least once a month. My weight stays within 125-130 pounds; I had averaged 145-155 pounds before I got cancer. I did have another surgery in Dec. 2007 because I had developed scar tissue that caused a blockage in my intestines, and after the second surgery the abdominal pain and intestinal blockage went away. Yes, there is life after stomach cancer especially if you had a total gastrectomy. I have been married since 1992 to my wife Lori and have a little monster, Danielle, who was born in 2004. I hope this brings some light and hope to those of you who are just starting on this journey.