Your responses have been overwhelmingly buoying.  Lisa and I thank you so much.  We wish we could express our heartfelt gratitude to all of you individually, but please know that each and every note is especially meaningful to us.  And do know we are thinking of you as well.

 Status: 8.5/10.  (1 point deduction from the Russian judge for brief episode of headache, chilliness and fatigue 6 hours after the first chemo dose.)

 Events:  Pretty much a good day today with my first dose of chemotherapy.  Pre-medication with anti-nausea drugs works great – say what you want about health care reform and big pharma, I’m a big cheerleader right now.  

    As mentioned above, I noticed a one hour episode, including increased heart rate and tremulousness, in the late afternoon.  This reaction was likely due to the fact that leukemic cells were destroyed and released their toxic products into my blood stream, what doctors refer to as “tumor lysis.”

   Lots of blood drawing throughout the day as they test the levels of drugs and the effects they have (it is after all part of a clinical trial).  Although I must say with all the blood they’re sucking out, I’m going to try to get more insight by ordering some of the Twilight series.  Tomorrow, more of the same and hopes for good results.


  White blood cells contain chemicals that they usually reserve for attacking foreign micro-organisms. When they do so, it is usually targeted, directed, and in small numbers. Imagine if you will an orchestrated fireworks display, a rocket here, a rocket there, well timed and controlled. But in my case, perhaps hundreds of thousands of the abnormal leukemic cells burst open quickly, releasing a barrage of these toxic chemicals.  It’s as if all those fireworks went off at once; you wouldn’t be surprised if the onlookers got singed. But the good news is, that only happens because a lot of leukemic cells met their end.   

    In Susan Sontag’s classic 1978 work, Illness as Metaphor she writes, “Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.  Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”

   I have been unwillingly, and must say inconveniently, handed another passport.  But it does give me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.  I will have my good days and my not-so-good days and I am grateful for your congratulations on the good ones, and your support on the not-so-good ones.


  – Bruce


15 Responses to “”

  1. Lewis Weiss Says:


    I was sitting back waiting for the news to change or some positive word from you. Of all my first cousins, we are the closest in age and spent our childhood getting in trouble together and I am sorry for taking you there. All the Weisses have trouble expressing ourselves, but I wanted to let you know you are loved greatly. We are praying for your speedy recovery. If there is anything the Weiss boys can do, please let us know.

    We love you; I love you!


  2. Karen Jaffe Says:

    Hi Bruce, after getting over the shock and dismay over your condition I’m adding my prayers and wishes for you as you start on this journey. It’s hard to share insights with an “expert” (tho I can personally vouch for the coffee shop at Kimmel) and the fact that the cafeteria actually does stay open late with some options for a salad! Please know that Bob, Sara, and I are available and sincerely hopeful that we can be useful in any way. We know the way to Hopkins well, but also to Winterberry and can stay/drive kids if that is helpful. Also shop. Whatever.

    Please know we love you and are thinking of you daily


    PS this is one of my first blog responses so if I duplicated a message from earlier today I apologize. AND thanks for the Susan Sontag quote..you are adding aesthetics to the cocktail -bravo.

  3. Carly Says:

    I just finished telling my dad that not only are you a teacher I wish I had in school, but you are also the most informed person I’ve ever met. Reading your blog everyday makes me not only learn about something very important, but also appreciate you more and more. Get well soon please,
    Love Carly

  4. Eileen Breslin Says:

    Dear Bruce,
    After my initial “shock and awe”, so well stated by you…. I mobilized my nursing network since I can not be there physically. I am so pleased to know you now have the acquaintance of Martha Hill. I know she conveyed our love. Martha will be an asset/resource and is sincere in wanting to help. It is reassuring to me to know you are receiving the nursing care you need in addition to the medical care. As always, you teach by your example and grace. Truly you are not alone on this journey and we will be sending our prayers nd love each day. love, Eileen and Bill

  5. wendy Says:

    We have all been shocked into a more realistic reality. So thanks for teaching our family that as well. Perhaps we’ll all be more present in our daily lives as a result and stay connected and committed to each other in every day times as well as special occasions and crisis.

    I have rallied the troupes of people that I know who appreciate the value of prayers and they are many.

    Here’s some imagines that I hold close to my heart. Lil Bruce on Christmas morning on the floor with his erector set. Bigger brother Bruce advising me that the reason I kept getting caught and in trouble was because I told mom everything when she asked where we went- You said- tell her the first place and the last place, you don’t need to tell all. Hearing the story that dad told about asking you why you were reading the entire set of encyclpedias- you said,”cause one day someone would ask you something and you might need to know the answer,” Your infamous salamagandi (sp/) parties/ Realizing as an adult you’d learned to dance/ Amazed I asked “how” and you said- “when I realized everything had a system and all you needed to do was learn the system.” SO now find the system and conquer this too. Remember this If you pick on one Dan, you get us all… AND we’re all here for you. SO tell those little cells, they not only have you to deal with but all us Dans as well. Go get ’em tiger.

  6. Hopie Dan Says:

    Brucie dear,
    Loved Wendy’s memories. We all have so many of them, But I have the
    most, 63 plus years, We had a picture taken of you at 4 months and having gotten it back noticed your ear sticking out, had to go get the ear infection taken care of. You were tough even then!
    guess who? Mom

  7. Henry Miller Says:

    Dear Big Brother [fraternity big brother at M.I.T.],

    Like your other friends and relatives, I have vivid and warm memories of you. For these many years, I’ve thought of you in terms of the old Readers’ Digest feature, “The Most Unforgettable Person I Ever Met.” You were SO funny and mischievous, as well as brilliant and clever. I learned a great deal from you then and subsequently, and have reveled in our paths crossing again in recent years.

    The first time I spoke to Lisa was when she called me for a comment on a story she was working on. I said to her, “So you’re married to Bruce Bespalow Dan,” which was followed by a VERY long silence. Then Lisa said, “You know my husband’s middle name?”

    Your blog entries convey so perfectly your courage, intelligence and perspicacity; I look forward to reading them.

    I join with your other friends in wishing you well.

    With prayers and warm thoughts,

    L’il Bro

  8. John King Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    What a shock you’ve received, and I am sorry to hear of it. It sounds as though you’re leaning forward with hope and with wonderful medical care. This reminds me of an old Arabic proverb: “Trust in God, but pack your saddlebag tight.” You seem to be doing both which is the best possible course for healing in my book.

    If there is something Rachel and I can do to help you and Lisa, we would love to do it whether it be helping with your kids, home, or anything else. If you or Lisa want to reach me, call my cell at 301-806-5209. Lastly, are you familiar with guided imagery for healing? I have found it to be very helpful personally in the past.

    We’ll keep you in our thoughts and prayers and wish you full recovery,


  9. Ed Baker Says:


    Our prayers and best wishes to you for a speedy recovery! We all want to see you up and around as soon as humanly possible. Best to you, Lisa and the kids…

    Tomorrow can still be a great day!

    Your Philly friends,

    Ed and Adam Baker

  10. Hildy Says:

    Bruce — It seems you are taking all of us on this journey with you. I am sad, but amazed at your spirit. Thanks for keeping us informed (maybe a little too informed….) but know that we love you and wish you wellness very soon!! My memory of you is at my Bat Mitzvah, looking out at the crowd and seeing you smiling at me. It makes me smile just thinking about it. I’m glad we are not only cousins — but friends too. Much Love, Hildy

  11. Sheryl Stolberg Says:

    Hi Bruce.
    Just a ditto on the comment above re guided imagery for healing. I have been a fan of a CD by Belle Ruth Naparstak called General Wellness. She does have some cancer specific CDs; this one is more for general relaxation and stress. May be too touchy feely for you, but here’s the link. And now that I think of it, Lisa might like it.


    Also, did you really read the encyclopedia front to back? Something tells me you did.

  12. Courtney Says:

    Hi Bruce,

    You are truly an inspiring person. Your optimism and strength clearly come through in your entries. I was telling Henry that you are a such a wonderful writer, and that I am continually learning something new as I read through your blog. You are a teacher in the truest sense, and a great one at that!

    Know that I’m cheering for you from down here in Atlanta.

    Regards to Lisa and the kids.


  13. Meredith Beckhardt Says:

    I’m glad to hear that the first day of chemo went relatively smoothly. I liked your medical explanation about how it works — so just let it “kick a@@ and take names later”! And I want to ditto what John King said above — guided imagery is very powerful. As the infusion is taking place, imagine it obliterating all the bad cells in your body. One of my “side” studies during college was Psychoneuroimmunology — but back then the orthodox medical community saw it as more fiction than fact. But it seems that it is gaining much more respect among MDs, and you might find it enlighting to read about on the internet.

    As I told Lisa, my house and family are available on weekends to take in Rachel and Ethan — we’d love to have them while Lisa spends more time with you.

    You are in my prayers,

  14. Tom Toftey Says:

    Many from the ol’ AMA gang are cheering for you from Chicago land — and all over the country. Since we started the AMA reunions, the network moves pretty quickly, so you should be feeling strong vibes of support and caring from every part of the country!

    Keep that blob coming — I’m checking it daily. It’s a little like sitting down with you at the end of the day to ask, “So, how’s it going today, my friend?”

    All best wishes from Jane and me to you and Lisa.

  15. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    What is this??!! No blog from you yet today and it’s already noon….your public NEEDS to hear from you….afterall, like it or not, you’ve got us with you every step of the way on this unwanted journey….thinking of you more than you know. Cheers, dear one. You are loved by so many.

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