Erie man shares cancer survivor’s story of hope and courage

Local News

It’s the story of hope, courage and survival.

One Erie man says he shouldn’t be alive after a grim cancer diagnosis back in February 2017. Doctors told him he probably wouldn’t live past Christmas.

62-year old Dan O’Neill was diagnosed with stage four melanoma cancer and it already started to spread to his brain and lungs. He says an experimental immunotherapy at the University of Michigan is why he is still alive.

Five years ago, O’Neill found himself at the University of Michigan hospital after his cancer diagnosis. He says, before that, he was in good shape and had never been sick in his life.

“I am telling you what I have learned on this cancer. It can happen to anybody and it can happen fast. There is nothing you can do about it and you have to get help.” O’Neill said.

O’Neill says he didn’t think he would come back to Erie, so he even had an estate sale. After doctors determined it was stage four melanoma, they made him a candidate of a new immuno-therapy.

After a couple years, the doctors noticed the cancer growth was disappearing. Within the treatments, he was cancer free.

O’Neill says his main goal is to get the word out on immunotherapy treatment to give hope to others dealing with cancer.

“It’s amazing when you have a scrape of death and you made it through it, you have a whole new outlook on life,” O’Neill said.

One way Dan is regaining his freedom is by hopping back on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which has been waiting for him for five years.

“It’s like a sense of freedom. For me, not only a freedom of riding my motorcycle, but feeling the freedom of being healthy again.” O’Neill said.

“When he was sick, he was constantly excited about, he set that goal. He was excited to get back and riding on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. To see him reach that goal today is very special and we are very happy for him,” said Kelly Lapping, Owner of Harley-Davidson of Erie.

Dan O’Neill says he has been back in Erie since June and is feeling good. He is exercising and trying to get his energy back. His next step is to pick up his golf clubs and see if he is up to hitting the links.

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