Thanksgiving will now and forever hold a special meaning for me. When people ask, “What are you thankful for”, I say my family, friends and my incredible wife. Although, for the last five years, I am now able to include that I am thankful for being cancer free.

One of the biggest lessons which I am thankful for grasping during my fight with cancer, at the age of 27, is to take things one day at a time. Not to sweat the small stuff. Life doesn’t always go down a straight path; no matter how hard we try, there will always be moments where we will have to take a hard turn due to obstacles, but when those obstacles arise, the question you will have to answer is “how will I respond to this challenge?” More often than not it will be beyond your control, but no matter what it may be, what you can control is how you react. That was my approach to my A.L.L diagnosis (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). When I received the news that I had cancer, I have to be honest, I cried my eyes out in disbelief BUT once I was able to come to grips with my situation, I made a choice to be a part of the solution and not sulk. I was not going to feel sorry for myself and ask “why me?” My plan was to tackle this disease head on, take it one step at a time, appreciate the small victories, know there were going to be roadblocks but when it was all said and done, I was going to finish on top.

The last part of my treatment plan was to receive a T-cell depleted stem cell transplant, in which my only brother Jason, was my donor. I received this transplant the day before Thanksgiving in November of 2013. There was a long road to get to this point. Heavy doses of chemotherapy, multiple sessions of full body radiation on a daily basis but this transplant was the final step in my treatment plan. 13 days after my transplant, I was released from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which my doctor said was the fastest that she had ever released a patient post transplant. Remember, one step at a time, one day at a time, take the small victories, know there will be setbacks but always keep looking forward. Onward. A new day always has the potential of being better than the last. As I write this post, still in remission, five years later, I will always enjoy Thanksgiving a little more than others. For me, I have my future to be thankful for. 

In closing, I wish you and yours a happy AND HEALTHY Thanksgiving. I am thankful to being five years cancer free, thankful to all of our donors, sponsors, supporters, family & friends who have made Layups 4 Life a success. Together, we will beat cancer ‘one layup at a time.’

Love, happiness, success
Dan Exter
Layups 4 Life 

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