Cancer Survivor: Daniel Stolfi Diagnosis: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Date of Treatment – March 2008-March 2010 Relation: Girlfriend
I don’t know how to put this. Long story short – I found out Daniel was sick a month into his treatment. I was devastated. It took me days to call him and then I finally manned up to it. Once we talked, our relationship blossomed over time. Dan and I know each other from theatre school (2002). Daniel’s illness shook our group of friends from University greatly. All were incredibly supportive and loving, but there was something inside my heart that wanted to be by his side. To this day, I have no idea what it was, but now he’s my love and I’m so blessed to have him – everyday.
I spent two years being a part of something very scary, sad and painful. It was hard to watch someone be so sick. I felt helpless and unsure of what to do at times. I questioned his illness, I cried a lot, I was frustrated, and I wanted answers. It brings tears to my eyes to remember how hard it was to know that I couldn’t really do anything to take the pain away.
Then, I finally realized one day that, fuck – you know what – I can do a lot – I can give Daniel tons and tons of love! I decided I would exude love out to the universe so Daniel could be smothered in it. I wanted hope to surround his soul, for him to have his life back and for his family to be let go of the pain. I started sending text messages to Daniel saying things like, “I love you like converse shoes with holes in it” or “ I love you like the Beatles sing I love you – ya ya ya”…quirky little messages that would make him laugh and feel the love. Luckily for me, Daniel reciprocated the love!
My friends and family were my strength during this time. I had no idea how to breathe without them. I talked about Daniel, cancer, life, death all the time. I know this and I know they all know this. (Thank you my loves). They would listen to my pain, my questions, hold me when I would cry and loved me. I wanted Daniel to survive so desperately and he did. I have very few “memories” of Daniel’s battle. I put that in quotation because I believe I have memories, but they are suppressed at this time and I would prefer not to live in the past. I get the honour of seeing Daniel healthy and well every day now and I couldn’t be happier.
Daniel and I started dating March 2009. I told him I was in love with him, he told me I was crazy and that he loved me too. But he also said he needed to take care of himself. I said, “I know – I want to be a part of it”. I jumped on the bandwagon full force and was fully committed!
The battle for Daniel was very hard, life changing in fact. Something I know I will never understand. I also will never know what it was like for his family to battle this. Their strength, patience, unconditional love and faith always brings great warmth to my heart. His mom and dad were his pillars of strength. They hold a beautiful place in my heart. To see your child be that sick isn’t fair. I prayed for them a lot. What I do understand though, is what it is like to be a supporter. Being a supporter isn’t easy, but being positive is key. Love, hope, faith, friendships, family, support, openness, living life and still owning it is all KEY to fighting cancer.
- Jennifer De Lucia
(Editor’s note, July 28, 2012: Jenn and Dan recently announced their engagement.)
Watch the short film on Daniel Stolfi, a young man with cancer who not only survives, but transforms his horrific experience into a deeply personal, yet highly comedic one-man show “Cancer Can’t Dance Like This”, winner of the 2011 Canadian Comedy Award for Best One Person Show.