Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jan 13th, 2009

As I write this Peg and I are in Punta Gorda Florida drinking up the sun and trying to put all of this in perspective.

How did all this start ??? I was driving home from a gig in October, when I scratched my neck and noticed an enlarged lymph node on the upper right hand side of my neck. After a visit to my good friend and Adirondack GP Tony Waickman, I was told to keep an eye on it and if it did not go down in about two weeks I should have it looked at. At the recommendation of our GP at home I met with Dr.Almehari in Newark, NY on Nov. 24 and he seemed concerned, so on the same day a CT was done of my neck. The next morning around 7:15 am. his office called and told me they suspected I had either a lymphoma or squamous cell carcinoma and strongly suggested that I come in the next morning to have surgery to remove and biopsy the lymph node. (The sensitivity of some surgeons leaves a lot to be desired !!) Because of the Thanksgiving holiday and our busy holiday performance schedule we settled on Dec. 17th to have the surgery, in turn I agreed to have 4 more CT scans (head, chest, abdomen and pelvis) done on the day after Thanksgiving, Nov 28th. All of those CT scans were clear. The surgery went well and after a week on the couch and lots of Vicodin, Peg and I performed on Christmas Eve at our Unitarian Church in Syracuse. On Dec 29th we met with our surgeon and found out that the biopsy was positive for stage 3 metastatic squamous cell cancer and the lymph node was only the secondary location. The meeting was surreal almost seemed like we would soon awake from a bad dream. No compassion or sensitivity from the doctor, just a matter of fact, you have stage 3 cancer and we’ll find you an oncologist. Good luck. In my conversations with many of you who have had cancer it seems like the surgeons tend to be the least sensitive and not so great with the bedside manner!!

The next day, Dec 30th we met with our new oncologist Dr. Bruce Yirinec at the Clifton Springs Cancer clinic near Geneva, NY. He spent over an hour and a half with us and he is truly wonderful. He made it clear that this will not be an easy road, but with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy we have a decent chance of knocking this out. But the first order of business is finding the original site of the cancer, most likely somewhere in the right side of my head, sinuses, throat etc. As scared and confused as we feel about this both Peggy and I have great confidence with Dr. Yirinec and feel that he has the knowledge and compassion to lead us thru this maze!

With the good doctor’s blessing on Jan 4th Peg and I flew down to Punta Gorda Florida for a two week trip that was originally set up for us to take Peg’s parents. The morning we were all to leave, Charlie { Peg’s Dad } had an episode with a bad hernia and was taken to Auburn hospital where two days later surgery was done for the third time in three years on his hernia. Knowing he was in good hands and having music gigs in Florida we came down ourselves. Sometimes things work out in strange ways!!

We fly home on Jan. 18th and on Jan.19th I meet with an ear, nose and throat specialist who will do an examination of my nasal cavities. Later in the hospital, under general anesthesia, there will be an endoscope exam of my throat passages and bronchial area and lungs. All of this in hope that they can find the primary cancer site. If a site is found, hopefully surgery can be done to remove the cancer and then there will be a five to six week regimen of radiation and chemotherapy. If the primary site is not found then we do the radiation and chemotherapy.

Right now the hardest thing seems to be the uncertainty, not knowing where this thing is and how much it has spread. In the quiet moments I pray for strength and most of all for patience. The music seems to have taken on a greater depth and performances with Peg and the Susquehanna String Band during the last few weeks have given me a great lift. A few more days in Florida then we are on our way home to jump into the fire. I have been so thankful for this quiet time in lovely weather to start to deal with all of this. I’ll try to keep this blog up to date as we proceed, so please stop back often and let me know your thoughts. Thanks again for the all the wonderful thoughts, concerns, and prayers. They lift me up and let me know that I am not fighting this thing alone.


  1. That picture is so nice that I put it on my desktop so I can say hey to you every day. Looks like you are quite relaxed.

    It sounds like you've connected with the right guy in Dr. Yirinec. As for the personality challenged surgeon....well....I would like to tell him to (fill in the blank).

    Enjoy the sun and warmth. Good Luck next week.

    Hugs to you both!

  2. Dan, Mary Avrakotos sent on the link to your blog. You've been in my thoughts and prayers so much over the last few weeks. Your Christmas music is always a part of our holidays and I was especially mindful of you this year.
    We love you and wish you well.
    _Jen Lyons and all the family.

  3. Dan and Peggy,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, as always. KBP - Keep Being Positive! And let the music heal you and let it take you away now and then!

    Donna and John

  4. Hi Dan,
    Thanks so much for the blog, and for keeping us connected. You continue to amaze me with your greatness, which, it appears, goes right down to your core.

    We will keep the candle of hope burning brightly, because we absolutely believe in happy endings. You have our total love and support, and anything else you need.

    -Cathy and Ron

  5. Hi Dan, Kevin here, will keep a candle going with my hopes for your complete recovery, as your music has often helped to get me through difficult times.

    Too many incidents like yours among people I know in the Oswego area, you really need to wonder....

  6. Hi Dan & Peggy,
    You are continually in my thoughts and prayers. Please know that everyone you have touched through your music is sending strength, energy, love & prayers.

    Sending big hugs across the miles.

  7. Hi Dan and Peggy,
    Thanks for the blog. My thoughts are with you always! I listen to your music daily, and it inspires me. Keep your music in your heart. The music will help during difficult times.

  8. Hi Dan. Thanks for making this effort to keep all your many friends and fans up to date on your evolving situation. As you hopefully know, there are many of us who are very concerned and wish you all the best as you deal with this very personal and difficult surprise. With your positive attitude and proper medical care (and all of us supporting you), we've got to be optimistic about the outcome. Hope you had some "fun in the sun". Give our best wishes also to Peggy.

    Happy Hammering!

  9. Dear Dan and Peggy,The news of this ordeal has now made the rounds of the Y2K cabin. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both. We're behind you both as you travel down this road. Hang in there.Dayle Quigley

  10. Hello Dan and Peggy,
    Your church family is sending out our deep love and support, as you are a wonderful inspiration to all of us.
    Thank you for your courage and optimism, it is a gift that we gratefully receive!
    With much love

  11. Sometimes we are socked with courage when we didn't ask to be courageous. There is little sense in all of this and the lonely battle you are facing, ameliorated a bit by the love of your friends. You are both in my thoughts as you embark on a journey you don't want to take and don't deserve.

  12. Hey, Dan & Peggy!
    Thanks for the update- So glad that you have found a caring, compassionate doc to work with.You both have brought so much joy to all who have heard your music- hopefully we can return the favor in some way... Just know that you have an incredible amount of people who love you and are thinking of you--
    Jenny & Kevin

  13. Hi Dan and Peggy,

    Just wanted to know you are in my thoughts and prayers everyday! Keep that positive attitude strong and remember even those Nuns in disguise are in your corner! Seriously, I wish you strength, courage and good news in the days to come.

  14. You are in our thoughts. Hoping for good news, and in any case, rootin' fer ya. Keep the attitude.

  15. Hi, Dan -

    Robin and I will be thinking of you much during these coming days. One thing that I know is that musicians are tough and resilient. It's nice that you could experience the great trip. Needless to say, everybody at FUUSS love you and Peggy and you both are on our minds much of the time. Thanks for your way of keeping us posted of your progress. We hope to see and hear you soon. Phil Klein

  16. Dan and Peggy, know that you are in our thoughts and with wishes for the complete recovery of full health. Hang in there and may the journey be easy and rewarding.

    Fran and Diane

  17. Hey Dan, I just got news of what is going on with you from John Kirk. Here's what I am envisioning for you .... complete cure and another visit to Winfield where you win the National Championship again. All of this in 2009! I'll lock in on the 7 PM prayer and good vibe group. Thinking of you, my friend.

  18. Dan:

    I am so sorry to hear about your battle with cancer. You are such a kind, gentle, caring, talented person, it just isn't right that you should have to deal with this! It sounds like you and Peg are doing a great job of learning about the options and I hope others who may have had a similar experience or know a good surgeon can help you with that process. I can't help in that regard, but rest assured you are in my prayers and at 7pm I will be joining the others in sending healing thoughts your way.