About Dan Page…
Thank you for visiting, but you shouldn’t be here. Seriously. Because I shouldn’t be here, and I’m still not sure what I’m doing here. But since you’re here, you might as well find out why it’s important that you are here.
I’m Dan Duffy. I’m a ginger. I married a hottie ginger named Stephanie. We have two ginger boys, Sam and Ben. This is considered a minor miracle because we had them the natural (as natural as you can with an epidural) way…after I had twenty rounds of chemotherapy and lost lefty to stage three testicular cancer.
So I guess, in a sense, my sons shouldn’t be here, either. So bonus for that.
Before we get to more important things, I’ll just tell you that I was born in Ireland but live in St. Louis, MO. I play the piano, I cook, and I’m a video producer. I love to hike, play soccer, and watch Cardinal baseball. I’ve also been blogging for the Huffington Post since January of ’13, which is probably the main reason why I’m here…and I guess why you’re here, too.
The Accidental Activist…
No one ever wakes up one morning and says, ”You know, I think getting cancer would be a good idea.” No one asks for it. No one wants it.
However, a few of us have found that while we didn’t want to be in this fraternity, our lives are irrevocably changed for the better because of it. And no, I’m not talking about getting to experience the really cool side effects like hair loss, vomiting up your toenails, and hot flashes like Ted Stryker trying to land a plane.
Through my walk with cancer, I’ve been able to meet some amazing people and experience some life-altering moments. In fact, it’s those people and those moments that made me want to do something with this stupid disease. I knew too much and experienced too much to keep it to myself. If was willing to share my own story, and get naked while doing it, maybe people would not only be able to relate, but wouldn’t be quite so scared when they heard the words, “You. Have. Cancer.”
Together with my producer friend Joe Farmer, we started The Half Fund, our way of telling stories about cancer through movies and books and music.
The Cinderella Moments…
In the truest sense of a blind pig finding a truffle, I met a man named Wayne Elsey who had already set the not-for-profit world on fire. When we met, our little mission to save the world was treading water. He put a team together and built us a new website, new logo, new identity.
Our new site had a great blog feature. Next thing you know, an editor from the Huffington Post read one and asked, “Hey, you, how about submitting one to us?”
“And who would you like me to murder for that opportunity?” I asked.
Almost seventy blogs later, we’re still submitting them, and somehow, they’re still posting them.
In December of 2014, I met an author named Amy Marxkors. While talking about another project, she told me I should write a book based on my blogs, to which I mocked…and maybe even scoffed. Wait, she was serious?
So I left and wrote one in a month. (Nobody told me I couldn’t.) When I gave it to her, I told her that it was cold out, and it could probably be used for some nice kindling. I did not expect her to say, “This has to get published.”
Not three weeks later, a fellow cancer ass-kicker named Sarah Kugler Powers reached out to us. Almost three hours into our conversation, she asked, “And what are you working on?”
“I’m having my friend edit a quasi-manuscript I’ve just written,” I said.
“Really? I’m about to have one published. I should introduce you to my publisher.”
Did that really just happen?
Which Is Why You’re Here…
On March 9, 1994, before graduating to video, I got my first and only job in radio with the syndicated Steve and D.C. Show. I sought them out for the simple fact that they made me laugh. As my years went on with them, I found my own comedic voice. They trust me to make them laugh. I learned to trust myself that I could pull it off.
On March 12, 2002, my oncologist called me, almost squealing, “We’ve hit a homerun! It’s testicular!” I never thought being told I had cancer would be a “homerun” sort of thing, let alone cancer in one of my my naughty parts.
It was one of the literally hundreds of absurdities that got me through my illness. From freaking out on a group of school children to being told my baldness reminded my friend of the tip of his own genitalia, my journey was a comedy of errors, a tragedy of epic proportions, and a lesson that had to be shared.
People who sell books for a living have asked, “Now who is your target audience?”
You…are my target audience. From the design of the cover to the last word of the epilogue, I want you to laugh, to learn, and to be emboldened to not be so afraid of this disease.
It’s for you, the patient, or the patient to be, to help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. It’s for you, the caregiver or loved one, to give you a unique perspective of someone who has enough time away to tell you what you might expect, fearlessly. It’s for you, John and Susie Q. Public, to not have to search for the words when discovering someone has cancer. (Hint: there aren’t any. Just go with it.)
That being said, I don’t want your reaction to be, “I’m sorry.” I want your reaction to be, “What kind? Will you have chemo or radiation? Will you lose a body part? Do you need an ear or a shoulder, or do you just want to be left alone?” You can do that. I’m giving you permission.
This is my story, along with the stories of people so much greater than I will ever be that I have met along the way. I promise that you’ll laugh, you might or might not shed a tear or two, and I guarantee that you will have a new perspective that will hopefully allay at least a portion of the fear of those three words.
So sit back. Relax. And enjoy the ride…or the “shit-show” as I like to call it.