About Me

My name is Dan Gennari and I started this blog in January 2009 as a way to stay in touch with family and friends after being diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Over the months of treatment that followed, I learned a lot from the blogs of other cancer survivors and frequently found comfort in reading about their experiences and recognizing that they were similar to my own.   During those months I also re-discovered how much I enjoy writing.  I had always written for fun as a creative outlet when I was younger, but a career and being a parent sidelined that hobby until this year.  After a few months of chemotherapy, I transformed this site from a blog just about my cancer experience, to a story about all the aspects of life that I feel are worth writing about.  That said, cancer remained, and still remains a major subject on the blog, as it has played a major role in my life.  Here is the summarized version of my cancer story.

After being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, I began chemotherapy for what was supposed to be a treatment protocol of 12 treatments (6 cycles) administered every other week.  That was to be followed by approximately 4 weeks of radiation treatment administered 5 days per week.  I mentally braced myself for this exact set of planned treatments and was ill prepared when unpredictable factors forced changes to be made.  My first mid-treatment PET Scan showed a big improvement in the metastatic growth of the cancer, as it had resigned itself to only the large tumor in my chest.  but that tumor had not shrunk as much as my doctor wanted it to.  The doctor mentioned the possibility of extra chemotherapy at that time.  Eight weeks later, he confirmed that possibility when the next PET scan again showed very little change in the size of the tumor and a continuance of live activity.  I was very depressed to get this news, but figured I had no other choice.  In those final eight weeks, I developed peripheral neuropathy caused by the Vinblastine in my chemo cocktail.  It affected me by causing a numb tingling feeling in my hands and feet, much like when one of your extremities “goes to sleep,” except it persisted all the time.  A final PET scan in September 2009 showed the same progress as before…the tumor had shrunk by less then half a centimeter in diameter and was still lighting up on the scan as an active cancer cell community.

Instead of getting the radiation I had thought I would get, it was recommended at this point that I pursue a bone marrow transplant instead.  I sought out an uber specialist in this type of treatment at Emory University and she wanted to take a step back and biopsy the tumor to make sure that we were in fact dealing with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  They biopsied four separate pieces of tissue and could not find any sign of active cancer cells in any of them.   At that point, she recommended that we wait a few months and repeat the PET scan to see if the cancer really is dead, or if it starts growing back.  This summary makes the time between then end of chemo and the final recommendation from the oncologist seem simple, but in fact, it was two and a half months of non-stop guess work, worrying, testing, consultations, and traveling back and forth to different cancer centers.  The chemo was the hardest physical element to deal with, but all the back and forth and weeks of uncertainty during this time of researching options for the bone marrow transplant were far more stressful.

It was during that time that I started to identify some of the deeper feelings I have about cancer and how I want to get more involved with the cancer support community.  Prior to the BMT prep time, I was just trying to plod through the chemo and intended to get that part of life over with and never look back.   But I now realize that the problems I faced are not singular, and they are not easy and not everyone has a complete support network like I did to get them through it.  In fact, not everyone does get through it.  Cancer comes with unexpected twists and turns and I have known people who experienced unexpected problems in their cancer treatment and ultimately died.  I realized that there was not much more than fate between those instances and my own mortality, and realized that I seem to have been spared the most horrific and painful elements of cancer treatments, and for that I am incredibly grateful and wish to contribute in some way back to the community of survivors.

25 thoughts on “About Me

  1. george says:

    I have only confidence that you will put all this stress behind you in the near future. You have the faith of many behind you. Stay strong, and don’t lose hope. I’m sure you know the best to do at this moment is to rest positive.

    Godspeed my cousin.

    – george

  2. Renita says:

    People tell me all the time that I have the best Son in Law around. Not only do you take care of Angie, Dominic and your company (VenueQuest) but you also take care of my “house” needs. I have so much that needs to be done, wood floors, tile upstairs, yard work, etc. Dan, so hurry up and get rid of that Cancer. Both you and Angie know that I am here whenever you need me. I am just 15 minutes away.

  3. I just found out the terrible news. My brother gave me your website. Danny I’m so sorry to hear about what has happened. Be positive, and stay strong. You are in my prayers.

    Love you!

    Martine

  4. Annette, James & Mikalena Gennari says:

    Dan, you and your family are in our prayers, we love you and are with you in spirit as you kick the crap outta Mr. Cancer.

  5. Bryan Collinash says:

    Hey Dan, I was very upset to hear of your situation. I know we don’t talk all the time, but you are in my thoughts and prayers! Get well soon buddy, and I hope to speak with you in the near future!! P.S. Very cool and informative blog!

  6. Steve Trocano says:

    Dan,
    I know we haven’t been able to “catch up” since you and Ang moved back to Atlanta, but know that we are here for you and your family. Anytime, anything. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. No matter what, stay strong and know that there are a lot of people here for you if you need us….

  7. kathy schwartz says:

    Dan, you are in our thoughts and prayers every day. Stopped at church today to say an “extra” for you. In case you don’t remember, we are old friends of your Mom and Dad.

    Love to you and your beautiful family,

    Kathy and Fred

  8. rachel ward says:

    dan – this is terrible news and hits so close to home. you’re so young and it could be anyone of us or our husbands. it’s so unfortunate that this happened to someone as wonderful as you, but i know how strong you are and that you will make it through with flying colors. we’ve known you for a couple years now, since angela and i were pregnant with dominic and rylee. you know dominic was rylee’s “boyfriend” before you moved back to atlanta. and to think we just saw you a few months ago when you visited tampa and you, angela and dominic were all happy and glowing. crazy how life works. i just want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you, today and always. you’re an amazing man, husband, father and friend and this is just a chapter in your life that will put a kink but you will pull through, no problem. stay strong and remember how many people love you and are praying for a speedy recovery. your friends from grand hampton – bradley, rachel & rylee

  9. Matt, Jessica, Luke and Eli Klasnick says:

    Dan,
    We wanted you to know that you are in our prayers and thoughts. We are sending you strength and courage to battle through this chapter in your life! With an amazing wife and awesome son, nothing can get in your way.

    Your friends at Grand Hampton~
    Matt, Jessica, Luke and (new addition) Eli Klasnick

  10. Joe and Barbara Jean says:

    Dan,
    We are all in there praying for you. Your Uncle Joe lights a candle in your name ever week. Rest, rest all you can. We all have yout back on prayer…………….
    Joe and Barbara Jean

  11. Ellen De Baets says:

    Dan, I am just reading this and I can not believe what I am reading! hang in there buddy! I know you are a strong person. Next long time vacation should be Belgium! Beer, chocolate and your old co-worker … whats else do you need! Hang in there. Many hugs from me xo

  12. Kevin says:

    I am a dad just like you with two girls, 6, and 8. My Dad has NHL and has fought multiple majors cancers for 21 year. He is getting ready to start his ICE treatment next week.

    Keep fighting and keep sharing your story. You are an inspiration to all.

    • Hi Kevin. Wow, 21 years! That is bravery and I have to assume all out determination to keep fighting no matter what. Is he using ICE in preparation for a stem cell transplant?

      Dan

  13. Hello Dan,

    So good to read your story, especially about life beyond cancer. My friend is a survivor from Lymphoma and has had a wonderful fruitful life since her bout ~10 years ago.

    She and I are currently fundraising for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and we are wondering if you might post about our efforts? We are participating in LLS’ Man and Woman of the Year competition, and we are 5 weeks into a 10 week fundraising campaign. So far we have raised $15,000! But we know we can go further, perhaps even double that. Check out our website to see more: http://www.mwoy.org/pages/txg/houston13/kahite

    Will you consider posting about our campaign for LLS?

    Warmest regards,
    Kathryn

  14. Jeanne Colombo says:

    What did your doctors use to make you cancer free in 2009? Did you have a stem cell transplant? What drugs did they use? What hospital/doctor?
    My family member has T cell lymphoma. Thank you very much. Jeanne

  15. hey dan, i wanted to say, first and foremost, that i am truly sorry about your illness, and hope that you keep fighting until it is beaten.

    i am currently working on a documentary regarding similar illnesses, and was hoping you would consider sharing it with others, if you think it is noteworthy, so that it may eventually find its way in the lap of some one who can contribute to the indiegogo campaign. if you decide to blog about it, let me know, and i will be happy to post a link to your site from our site, in the credits, to thank you for spreading the word.

    the site for the documentary is: http://ToxicBiology.com/

    i hope this helps you or some one you know in the future. thanks, and, good luck!

  16. chick says:

    Hi,

    I would like to read the blog archives but they all redirect to some sponsor page… have you decided you don’t want people to read your blog?

    Thanks
    linda

    • I will look into this soon. I am past due on some blog maintenance but staying busy living and working, so the blog will wait. Thanks for pointing it out though – Dan

  17. Lisa Manahan says:

    I stumbled across your site while Googling about a CT scan I had today on my neck after chest pains. While, this does not seem to be related to your journey, I just wanted to tell you that I was very touched by your story and to wish you a long, happy, healthy life. You’re a very talented writer by the way : )
    Blessings,
    Lisa

  18. Christina says:

    I found this blog while secretly looking for answers to specific symptoms I am having. I haven’t told anyone or gone to the doctor yet. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve been too afraid to make a DRs appointment—I don’t say that to be morbid or because I’m convinced I am sick, but because I found comfort and strength in reading your story and why the hell wouldn’t I want to find out I am okay (or, worst case, early enough to fix it). Thank you, Dan.

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