My Name is Daryl

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas. When I was a young boy my father, who grew up on the farm, would take me just a few blocks from our house to see corn and wheat crops growing in the fields.

Daddy took me along with him just about any time he was doing anything. He did that just to spend time with me and to teach me about what he was doing. As I got older he would go more in-depth about what he was doing and eventually he would let me give things a try.

One of the things my dad exposed me to was mechanics while he did routine car maintenance on our cars and on our lawn mower. He also took me to his brother’s blacksmith shop where I learned about working with metal and welding.

Because of the things I was exposed to I became interested in taking classes in high school to learn more about mechanics and welding. In fact, my first job was at a gas station where I learned more about auto mechanics. And my first job after graduating from high school was a welding job where I used the training I had gotten. All of this happened because my dad exposed me to these things and encouraged me to do what I was interested in.

These things led me to enlist in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft mechanic. I spent four years working as a crew chief on the T-37 jet aircraft that was used for pilot training.
With this background I came home from the military when jobs were hard to find so my dad exposed me to yet another trade. First, he got me a job at a trucking company working on the freight dock. Then, with a job for me to work, he taught me how to drive a truck so I could move up at that trucking company and become a truck driver (like he was). After I learned how to drive it opened a lot of other opportunities for me.

Eventually, as the economy changed, the trucking company had to make changes in their operations so I lost my job. I had to branch out yet again. I tried driving for another trucking company running long-haul trips that didn’t work for me. I couldn’t sleep in the truck. Next, I fell back on my auto mechanic experience to get another job. And I even tried working in a restaurant for a while. This trial and error situation quickly proved to me that I needed to do something else as a career.

My next move was to attend college fulltime to study data processing and to learn about computers. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and was excited about working in the field of information technology. My first job, which I got during my senior year, was with a small business. After staying there for approximately five years I decided to move on to a different position.

By going to work for the FAA, I was more or less able to continue working in the aviation industry that I loved so much. It also made it possible for me to grow my skills in Information Technology. Another benefit for me making this change was the fact that it allowed me to use my military time towards retirement. I served in that capacity doing many things I loved to do until I reached the age to retire with over 26 years of combined service.

It was approximately five years into my career with the FAA that I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was very blessed to be in a place where I had more options available to help me work through the medical problems I had to deal with. There were a lot of people who donated time for me to be off on medical leave as I needed it. I also had options for working at home when I needed that to help me finish my career.

In September, 2013, I reached my 18th year as a cancer survivor. This has included the original diagnosis and multiple relapses (recurrences). I have experienced many different chemotherapy regimens and the toll they took on my body. But I kept pushing forward and asked for the help I needed until I was blessed to reach the milestone of retirement.

One of my other goals was to live a life with a hidden or unseen disability to show people that no one knows what I lived with unless I told them. I wanted to help people learn that some of us live everyday with things that are very difficult to deal with. And people don’t always know our story. But with persistence, and making adjustments when we need to do so, we are able to live our normal. (Many people that have problems have to make adjustments in their lives which are called our “new normal.”)

Who Knows Why I Got Cancer

According to medical research non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma doesn’t have a single cause. However, there are several things that seem to be consistent with people who are diagnosed with that cancer. I want to give you a few examples from my life.

Some Possibilities

One of the first things I remember learning was how to mow our lawn. I remember learning to be responsible for maintaining the lawn mower (being exposed to gasoline and oil). Mowing the lawn also allowed me to see the results of my hard work, and gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

My Uncle Garland Sprague owned and operated a Blacksmith shop in Paola, Kansas. I loved to visit him at his shop so I could watch this highly skilled craftsman in action. I loved to watch him weld! Because of this I took welding classes and my first job after high school was welding (exposure to gases and fumes from the welding process).

In my teenage years I got my first job at a service station where I started out pumping gasoline. It wasn’t long before I was allowed to start working in the garage (exposure to gasoline fumes, oil, and solvents).

When I was a young child I loved to watch the television show “Sky King.” The exciting part of the show for me was seeing the rancher go out, get into his twin-engine airplane and head off down the runway and into the sky. This interest in airplanes resulted in me cultivating a goal of being an aircraft mechanic. I was a jet aircraft mechanic in the military (exposure to jet fuel, solvents, etc.).

After I got home from the military I worked in the trucking industry doing a lot of jobs. Loading and unloading trailers (exposure to various chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc.). I also worked in the truck yard with the equipment (exposed me to fuel fumes, grease, solvents, etc.).

Since I learned about caring for our lawn at an early age I carried that into adulthood where I loved to manicure my lawn (lawn chemicals).

Living in the Midwest where there is a lot of farming that uses chemicals for growing crops and weed control in the fields. There is the possibility of those chemicals getting into the water supply. This may accumulate causing chemical exposure by merely drinking the water.