On a gloomy March afternoon, light shone through the clouds. The light did not come from the sun. It came from the eyes of a kind, hospitable man, Daniel Lee. His current meager apartment is furnished nicely with discarded objects he has collected over the past three years. “I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff. You just gotta be positive”. That’s an admirable sentiment from a man who has lived through a major car accident in his youth, countless surgeries and medical procedures, the death of his beloved wife, as well as two bouts of cancer in his short 48 years.
Working for more than 10 years in the tool and dye industry, in 2005 Daniel had his first bout with cancer. He was hospitalized for two and a half months, one of which he spent in a coma. During this time he was evicted from his apartment and all of his possessions discarded. Because of his extensive medical needs and resulting disability, Daniel was unable to return to work.
It was during this time that his wife of five years battled and ultimately succumbed to cancer herself. “I am proud of the love I have and the way I helped my wife die. She was really scared to die. She had never been close to the Lord, never learned to pray. I taught her to pray at the end, got her baptized before she died. I accomplished that. I held her when she took that last breath and I felt her soul.”
Daniel heard about the St. Vincent de Paul Society through word of mouth. “I heard someone talking about St. Vincent’s. It’s hard for me to ask for help. I wasn’t raised that way.” But during his current battle with lymphoma, Daniel was desperate. “I just called up and within three days, I went from no food to having food AND someone praying for me. My landlord has been good to me, but I don’t have any friends here. I’ve been beat up three times around here and had my social security check stolen.” The Vincentians from St. Bavo’s conference “come through the snow, just like the mailman and they prayed with me. Hank has been a good friend to me and when he wasn’t able to come, Mary shows up. I am so touched that she comes to help me.”
St. Vincent’s has been helping Daniel for less than a year. His lymphoma is not in remission, but it has not continued to spread. “Sometimes I cannot understand why someone who has a family dies and God has kept me alive for all of this time. I don’t get it. But I stop to smell flowers and I am thankful for every bite of food.”
" “I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff. You just gotta be positive.” "
" “I just called up and within three days, I went from no food to having food AND someone praying for me.” "