The happiest warrior

Danny & family

Sometimes, we are open to see what comes to us as a possibility, a way out or a way in, a beginning or just something that comes and goes; sometimes we can see what is immediately in front of us, and some other times, it vanishes without notice; sometimes we realize the importance of what we have lost and some other times not even that. So many possibilities come across our way, that choosing always implies loosing and winning something. So, when we look back at the road travelled, we see the crossings, the detours,  the dangerous curves, the ascents, the descents and the coincidences; those encounters that seem to be fingered by Someone to indulge us with a special  gift. This is how we met Daniel, a tireless warrior.

We were innocently resting at a green park facing the sea in Lima, Peru, fleeing from the big city and its millions of inhabitants, when we heard the engine of a Beetle car; we twisted immediately to ask if he knew a trustful mechanic. At the same time he was approaching us wondering if we had come to the Volkswagen gathering while looking at Gardenia, our 1985 VW van, parked behind us. First coincidence. Obviously we didn’t have any information about the event; nevertheless, we were thrilled to get to know the local fans. Before we even started talking, he had already pulled out a gift from his car for Gardenia: ‘eyelashes’ for her eyes, spoiling her a little so she could show off before her buddies.  At once, I noticed that Daniel was carrying a medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe, our patron of the trip, to whom we commend everyday our work. Another coincidence.

After the gathering, we said our goodbyes thanking for the info about mechanics, advises, phone numbers and addresses. Daniel came to us and in that last conversation about blogs, told us about his own blog, in which he shares his fight with his “tenant” for 12 years, the carcinoid syndrome. He writes to give support or encourage those who may need it. We were surprised to see this 25 years old young man with so much joy, vitality and generosity fighting this battle, it almost looked impossible and we wanted to continue this conversation just a little longer.

After many months away from home, the last couple of weeks we have been dreaming with a good “asado” (Argentinean barbecue), we have tried with some burgers but they didn’t look like real meat; afterwards came the “chorizo argentino” (Argentinean type of sausage) but was no good either, so we gave up. The day following the VW gathering, Daniel came to invite us to a great “parrillada” (barbecue), not knowing about our yearning to eat a delicious barbecue. Another coincidence.

We spent a wonderful Sunday with family, grill,  barbecue, a pool and lots of food, the peruan style: sweet and salted “tamales”, chicken wings, bistecks, sausages, potatoes of different colours, salads, hot sauces and other stuff. The grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the known and unkown cousins; all of them listening to tales from years ago and present adventures (including our trip). Of course, the soccer match with lot of passion could not be missed; it was like being back in Argentina for a little while. The more we got to know our friend, the more we admired his battles, his energy and strength of every day. When asked about his medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe, he told us it was a gift from a Mexican friend, very devoted of the “Guadalupana”, so he could lean on it during his battles. Also his birthday is exactly on the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Another coincidence? They were too many. That’s when we realized that this encounter meant something more. Someone was pulling the strings so we would meet, get to know each other and tell his story, be his spokesperson.

It’s been a long time since we have thinking that we were missing a picture of the “Guadalupana” for the car, as she is our patron. Without knowing this, Daniel gave us the one he had in his car. Coincidence. We left the barbecue with this picture that would guide us in our trip and with the purpose of giving it to Father Robin in Mexico. We said goodbye with lots of hugs and thanking them profusely because the next day after going to the mechanic we would leave Lima, Peru. Sure thing, with the Peruvian speed of “ahorita nomás” (right away), it was another full day at the mechanics. Danny came to see us after work, skipped the university class and took us to see a pretty park where we shared a nice conversation. Then he invited us to stay at his home, insisting that his parents wanted to take us to eat Chifa (Chinese food). We gladly accepted, but we didn’t want to impose so we agreed that we would sleep in Gardenia in their garage. We were again like two additional children in the family, with dad César, mom Maricarmen and Kathya, Andrés and Daniel as siblings. They spoiled us that night right until the day we left. We shared the breakfast, many conversations, we prepared homemade pizza; and slowly we started to be part of their lives, getting to know their reality and how each of them plays an important role to make this wheel turn happily, accepting the pain as a special gift, like an opportunity of offering it with a smile and enjoy each day to its maximum, thanking for what was lived and sharing every minute of it.

Each one, in a silent way contributes its own molehill; the everyday smile and the small gestures of each member of the family make this cross more bearable. Naturally, what joins this dough made of different ingredients, colours and tastes is his mom. Mary has the ability to smile and face the problems with an unshakeable faith, worthy of a lioness, with lot of strength and so much love that it would never hurt. She knows when to set her cub free and when to cradle him, she is always available to welcome and take care of him. César, as the chief of the herd, unselfishly looks after everyone making room for them to move freely; quiet, serene, but with firmness and determination. The siblings complement each other, between the strength and energy of Kathya and the sensitivity and affection of César Andrés, the eldest. Almost part of the family, Claudia, his loving girlfriend, has accompanied him for 5 years with her down-to-earth attitude.

Danny is the youngest and has lived with this tenant since he was 12 years old, who first attacked his heart, weakening it until he needed a pacemaker. Ironically it only attacked the muscle, because his real heart began to gain strength. Even though, one looks at him and finds it hard to believe there is something that can diminish his power, his fight is deep inside and he has smiles and words of hope for everyone. He engages in life with much more tenacity than any other healthy person, always thinking of others. He took care of us and he even escaped from supper and went to buy a small cake with a candle to celebrate my birthday in advance surrounded by family. He always reminds us: “Life is long, the time is short. Let’s live it!”. This summarizes everything.

Despite the fact that he spent half of his life with the uncertainty of this illness, to which there is still no diagnosis available, he never gives up and gives himself to the medicine with happiness.  Just when we met him, they had received some hope from a doctor from Sweden, who may be able to define the diagnosis with precision and act accordingly; a breeze of hope tirelessly searched and more than welcome to change the course. Obviously it generates more uncertainty, but it is a new direction, a new opportunity that life presents and they are ready to make the most of it, with all the effort that it implies. Danny insists that our encounter was not a “coincidence”, but more like a “Godcidence”. He insists that we didn’t meet BECAUSE of something, but that we met FOR something.  We are still learning from this young man of 25 years old, who appears to be older than us.

Searching and searching through the internet, he couldn’t find websites in which to share his symptoms, his fears and accomplishments; so he decided to create a blog to help others, believing that those suffering from the same illness would be the readers, but in truth anyone can learn from his story, his way of facing his life. He says to us: “There is still a long way to go in your life project, go forward, remember that we are behind you, and behind us there are others; ahead of you there are those that need your support so they won’t go down, and if they fall, make them stand up again. Let’s continue joining more links to the chain of life, there is still a long way to make it happen, even if we take different roads, it is important to reach where we want to go.”  

It was a special gift for us to meet the life testimony of Danny, in a city where we felt ejected; we found an oasis in his family and in his house. They made us feel like at home, and they even gave us a bag full of sodas, beer, cookies and fruit for the journey. This was the tangible symbol of the internal “bag” we took with us, a happy heart, sad to say goodbye but full of hope after learning so much from this inexhaustible fighter who distributes joy and bravery wherever he goes.

Meet him at: www.elguerrerocarcinoide.blogspot.com

LATEST Update: Our warrior is flying on March 14th to Stockholm, Sweden to meet an excellent doctor there. Many hopes are set on this trip, and many help is needed to get him and his mother from Peru to the other side of the world. Any help is appreciated, people who can lend a hand in Sweden, or money to pay for medicines and specific studies. Just contact him at: elera.daniel@hotmail.com , or us at: vamos@compartiendoamerica.com.ar

THANKS!!

happy Bday!

Danny with Gardenia & us!

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