Holiday seasons always brings forth a sense of togetherness, but this year seems to be reaching an apogee. It seems as though the holiday season is the only time of year where people genuinely go out of the way for one another. While this thought is rather morbid, this year I truly was blown away by the strength and love of a particular family.
As the days turn to weeks, the weeks to months, and months to years our training partners truly become family. The people who, quite literally, consistently try to kill us become some of our closest friends regardless of where they are from, their ethnicity or age, or whatever diverse background one could fathom. These family members revel in the success of his/her teammates, and empathize greatly with whatever struggle through which their teammate is slowly persevering. These teammates create an unbelievable support system that stand loyal and ready to help should you be in need.
Recently I received a phone call from my best friend, Daniel, informing me that he needed help. While he did not directly say “I need help”, that was all every teammate and friend of Dan heard. We unilaterally understood. The Port City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team immediately stood ready and strong to help one of their own.
“Cancer” usually is not something you want to hear from your buddy, especially for the second time around. Months back Dan discovered he had a cancerous tumor on one of his testacles. After surgery it had appeared that Dan had tapped out cancer and all was well. Dan then proceeded to metaphorically defeat cancer by competing at the Tap Cancer Out Tournament while raising over $500 for a Cancer research foundation. On top of raising money to help others in a cause that plagued him, Dan won his division in dominant fashion. It seemed as though it was the fairy tale ending to Dan’s cancerous adversity. Unfortunately, we were mistaken.
“The cancer is back, but this time its in my lungs”. Such words herald no response, especially when it comes from someone of whom you have grown fond. I was speechless; safe to say, we all were. “I’m starting chemo-therapy Monday”. Shortly after the phone call ended, a slew of profanities escaped my conscious mind into audible words. Thankfully I was alone in my car driving for three hours with nothing but my thoughts to torment and/or soothe me. Yes, that previous sentence was meant to paint a picture. How is one to handle such news?
Well, after the sudden outburst of rage, I looked towards my team and saw how they were handling the news. I was not surprised by their response. Everyone reached out to help. The whole team went out of their way to be there for their family. Starting leg lock seminars to raise money, sharing Dan’s Go Fund Me to help his family to pay for chemo, and emotionally helping. All the positive energy of the Port City team is constantly being sent to Dan as he pushes forward to tap cancer out… for good. One of our coaches, Derek, said: “In all actuality it seems kind of appropriate for Dan to be going through this. Not because he deserves it, but because it seems every classic hero story throughout history uses a tragedy as the catalyst to greatness. And when it’s all said and done that’s what I’m sure this will be, the catalyst in Dan’s story. Cancer, just like Jiu Jitsu, will just be one of the many triumphs through out his life that makes Dan who he is. And the world will be a little better for it.” I have heard that there is no spiritual growth without suffering…. perhaps Coach was correct; Dan was certainly a noble character.
Recently I was speaking with another one of our coaches Jay, and reassuringly he stated “What people really notice about Dan is that he is loyal, honorable, and would do anything for you. He’s an inspiration to every single person that steps on that mat; tough, determined, and talented. That’s how I know that he will beat this thing again; because his will won’t allow him to lose, and neither will I. A man can be measured by the people he surrounds himself with, and I’m proud to call Dan my friend and teammate.” Jay is far from the only one who shares this opinion. In fact, Jorge Ley, owner of Tortuga Soap Company and fellow teammate, shared a similar view. “I was in a hotel room in Philly the other day when I heard his cancer was back and I cried but I believe Dan is going to beat this thing. He is going to beat it and show us all that you can fight, be tough, hardworking and still be the happy kid that everyone wants to be around.”
This holiday season has been bittersweet – okay, – mostly bitter, for our family, but the silver lining is rather beautiful. We all have the utmost faith Dan will triumph, but most importantly, I know Dan believes that more than anyone. The beauty of this situation is in the family that has been fostered through Jiu Jitsu. These people all come from different walks in life. Sure, the submissions, sweeps and defenses are powerful in their leverage as well as dynamics, but this holiday season I was blessed enough to witness another true power, a Super Power, of Jiu Jitsu: A family literally fostered through struggle and forged through countless beatings, standing ready to help a member, Dan, tap out cancer for good.
Here is Dan’s Go Fund Me. All help counts. Please help spread the word. Together we are stronger. Together we can tap cancer out.