Friday, June 26, 2009

.....and so it begins

The fight is on!! The world will now have to deal with two Dan Lyons' battling cancer with everything they have.

As of June 8, 2009, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a fairly common form of blood cancer that affects the ability of the immune system to fend off infection because it creates too many white blood cells. I won't write tons of scientific "stuff" about the disease itself (heck, thats why we have wikipedia). In all seriousness, the National Cancer Institute probably has the best/most accurate details of everything you could imagine.

The first thing I want to do is thank everybody for all of their prayers, thoughts, cards, calls, texts, food, and just their love. It has been so evident and so overwhelming. I love you all so much. At the suggestion of some family and friends, I decided to start this blog so that everybody can join in on the fight and journey with me. I apologize if the first post is a bit fact-based and boring, but I want to get the word out there and get everybody up to speed.

It all started a couple months ago on the first nice day of the year when I went to "impress" my girlfriend Hanna Jo with my stellar tennis ability. After about 4 points, I was completely winded and nearly on my back. I had dizziness, limb pains, and just complete exhaustion way too rapidly. But, since it was the first day in the sun, I just chalked it up to being dehydrated and not quite in "summer shape" yet. A month or so later I had the same symptoms while at a wedding in Baltimore. They were worse this time and I felt my heart racing, so I was pretty scared. I called my family doctor that Monday and when I saw him on Friday he was instantly concerned with my symptoms. I give him lots of credit because he checked up on me all weekend while he was waiting on the blood tests to confrim his hunch.

Then on June 8th, my doctor called me and told me to head to Hershey Medical Center. There was a bed ready for me on the "cancer floor"....which raised a few red flags. The doctors and nurses were all unbelieveably compassionate and understanding. Soon the diagnosis was confirmed and the fight began.

Many of my initial symptoms were related to the lack of blood in my body. The cancer had knocked out most of my good blood, especially the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. So, for the first three days I had 8 red blood transfusions. They said that I had the lowest counts of anybody that they had ever seen walk in the door on their own.....I was quite proud of myself for that...haha. In fact, there was a parade of nurses that kept coming into my room wanting to see the guy with no blood...haha.

After the transfusions and a trillion other tests, including a spinal tap and a bone marrow biopsy (which was a pretty awful experience), they let me go home for a few days before the start of my chemotherapy. After a glorious weekend of chinese food, mcdonalds, and pizza, I went back to the hospital to start my treatement. They have me on a very heavy regimen of chemotherapy that is usually two to three times a week. Since this cancer is most common in children and they have better success rates in children, it was good news that they told me my disease was reacting more like it usually does in children. For this reason, they enrolled me in a clinical trial designed for young, healthy, strapping, handsome (obviously, i'm talking about myself here) adults. They are putting us through the more rigorous treatment that works well on younger bodies.

The chemotherapy is into the second week now and the worst part has been the nausea this week. I thought I was a bit of an "Iron Man" at first, but now it is all starting to catch up to me. The good news is that I am home, able to do everything from outpatient as long as I stay healthy. They have also ramped up my nausea medication so hopefully that helps.

Well, I think I am going to cut this off for today. I just wanted to get this thing up and running. I truly do not have the words or enough hugs/tears to express my gratitude to everybody that I know I have in my corner. My parents, brother Joe, roommates, friends, and family have been here and, I know, will be here through everything. My girlfriend Hanna Jo has been at my side for every step and I'm not sure how this would be going without her. Thank you!

And, lastly, but never leastly, there is prayer. Thank you for the all the prayers coming from the world over. I feel them, I know them, and I return them.

ALL will be well

p.s. The title of the blog was Hanna's idea. Its the title of one of our favorite songs from The Gabe Dixon Band, "All will be well". Its an appropriately, inspirational should check it out.


  1. Hey Dan, I'm sorry to hear about the diagnosis, but it sounds like you've got a great attitude and tons of support. I wish you well, and may God give you strength. Take care,

  2. We'll keep the prayers comin as long as you keep up with your goofy smile! haha Take care Dan and you are in mine and Maria's prayers!

  3. Dan, you are so awesome. I love the blog. You are the only person I know who can be so funny and upbeat during a difficult time. I've got you in my prayers!

  4. Hi Dan- thanks for starting this- I have been thinking of you a lot. I know its been a long time since we've talked... I have been very sick too and I empathize with you very much. It's a lot to wrap your mind around. I am so glad you have great friends around to support you. Stay strong, and lean on them when you need to. You are loved. -Leah Ramsay

  5. Dan. You're a badass. Cancer doesn't stand a chance. My prayers are with you! Love, strength, endurance, peace, and humor sent your way. ~ kelly burke

  6. You are in my prayers, Dan. God Bless! - Maria Sousa

  7. Hey Dan! Haven't talked to you in forever, I saw your link to this blog on Facebook. I was in shock. You have an awesome outlook! I will keep you in my prayers.
    - Your favorite neighbor growing up...jk
    Rhea Zozos Karavangelos

  8. I'm reading and thinking of you.
    -Cristina (from Unanue :) )

  9. Lyons,

    Did you ever know that you're my hero?

    LC & Mariah Carey

    ps: i mean it. you're my hero. my heart is with you... (LC = laura collins, btw)

  10. Dan,

    Matt and I praying for you daily! I can't begin to tell you how much I admire your positive outlook! God Bless!

    Stacey & Matt Bilenki

  11. GS you are inspirational, and with all the very good aura of positiveness that surrounds you "ALL WILL BE WELL" so it is written and so it will be done.


  12. Dan, you the man! Very good to hear that you are upbeat as you always have been and combating this like Jack Bauer would! God Bless man, always in my prayers..

  13. Hey Dan..... this blog is a great idea.... its good to hear from you.... with all the love and prayers of friends and family... you will win this fight! .. look forward to reading more.... there are prayers also for your father... both of you will get thru this.... Luke and Meg made it safely to africa.... should be with Sean by now....... hang in there and fight man..... that sense of humor of yours will help.... bet you had all the nurses smiling and laughing.... love ya man.... am with you all the way.... Laura

  14. Dan,
    Sending lots of prayers and good thoughts your way. Consensus among our mutual CUA friends was that you are "the nicest guy ever" and deserve only the best. Keep that Dan Lyons smile and let us know if you need anything, we're not too far away.

  15. We love you Danny!
    Hang in there and be strong. We know you are going to beat this thing.
    See you very soon!
    Erika & Jason

  16. Love you, "Uncle Danny!" We're praying for you and the fam every day and look forward to seeing you back at home soon.
    -Kara, Michael, and Baby H

  17. Great song by the way we checked it out. You are a big part of this family. Just another chapter in the never ending love story and yes, all will be well! We love you!
    Carol, Terry, Rachel, & Sarah

  18. Dan, great blog. I hope the treatments are going well and you are feeling good. Keep up the good fight and stay positive. Its such a great thing that you have a strong support network. You are right about those nurses at Hershey, I've only heard great things about them. When Mrkobrad was in the hospital there he said the nurses helped him through the toughest days. You are in my prayers. Ad summum bonum. John Diehl

  19. Just reinforcing what the rest of the Rice clan said...we love you Dan and you are a huge part of this family! In our thoughts and prayers now and always! <3 Rach

  20. We hearty heart you, Dan. Only you could make us smile and tear up in the same blog. Keep 'em comin' (as you are able)...Keep the faith!

    Lou, Sal, & Raf