Dan Staples:  Feeling stronger every day

We’ve used these pages in the past to pay tribute to folks – sometimes knowing they might read the words themselves; other times (too often, it seems) in memory of them.

This month we wanted to do a follow-up on a story from back in the spring of this year … and bring you the best kind of news.

You may remember our feature in the April issue on Dan Staples, the 65-year-old fisherman from Cushing, ME who was facing the fight of his life – literally.

At that time, Dan was just beginning an aggressive series of chemo treatments to combat a stage IV cancer diagnosis.

Attitude-wise, you couldn’t ask for any better than Dan; he’d met the doctor’s assessment head-on with a flash of humor: “Well, that’s unacceptable, doc.  My retirement plan is to become a miserable old man and I’m not old enough yet to retire … so I guess we need to figure something out.”

As positive as he was, Dan was realistic, as well.  He felt he needed to sell his beloved 38’ South Shore Luke William “just in case.  I don’t want my wife Cindy to have to deal with it.”

I don’t think it was more than a few days after our conversation that the Luke William was sold to a young lobsterman from Vinalhaven – a sad moment for Dan, but one that left him clear to focus on beating his cancer.

The chemo regimen prescribed by Dan’s doctor was a tough one: a series of bi-weekly treatments, 12 in total.  “They told me that oftentimes people only get through 9 or 10 of them,” says Dan.  “It’s pretty nasty stuff.  But I ended up doing all 12.”

It was a tough stretch, but Dan kept his courage up and stayed with it.

“You need to try to be positive,” he says.  “No matter what you’re going through, there’s someone going through something a lot worse.

“It’s easy to have ‘Poor, poor me’ thoughts.  But I was thinking, ‘How am I going to beat this?  I need to be around for my wife and children – how am I going beat this?”

Eight treatments in – back in July – Dan’s doctor gave him the news: the tumor was shrinking.

“I asked him, ‘Does it look good enough for me to buy a boat?’” says Dan.  “I just wanted to get back out on the water – and that little hint of hope was all I needed.”

With four more treatments to go, Dan searched the used boat listings for something he could pay cash for and set some traps out with.

He ended up down in Winter Harbor, looking at a …

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