Daniel Daugherty and his wife Florence. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Fazio

Radiating positivity: how one man has battled six cancers in his lifetime

Daniel Daugherty doesn't give up
By: 
Mar. 30, 2018

Daniel Daugherty often wonders how he has gotten so lucky in life.

He has experienced six cancers in his 84 years on Earth, and is missing one kidney, his spleen, appendix, gallbladder and most of his pancreas. He needs to take insulin every day and pills to help him digest his food with every meal. Lucky may not be the first word that comes to mind for many, but his positivity is as apparent as the criss-cross of scars in his chest.

“He’s got a big plus sign,” said his wife and high school sweetheart, Florence Daugherty.

Dan Daugherty's battle with cancer began over 20 years ago after he tested positive for prostate cancer. When he went in to see a doctor, in a hospital he described as "rinky-dink" before it was renovated years later, a nurse told him not to worry about the cancer. She said it was no longer his problem, but theirs.

“I sort of laughed,” Dan Daugherty said. “Boy, maybe I’m cured.”

But, it was just the beginning.

While he underwent treatment for his prostate cancer, the doctors began examining his colon. In one year, he had four colonoscopies, and eventually they found a growth where the colon connects to the bowel. It was cancerous.

But while taking x-rays for that, the doctors found he had one kidney that was "solid cancer," as Dan Daugherty puts it. That had to take priority over the colon and it was removed right away.

His battles don't stop Dan Daugherty from doing what he loves though. He still rides his bike often, only now he makes sure to carry candy in his front shirt pocket to replenish the glucose he works out. His favorite? Jolly ranchers.

Over the years, doctors would discover he suffered from skin cancer, first in his lower back, and then in his shoulder. He got a chemical peel and grew all new skin. 

Last March, doctors told him he had pancreatic cancer. That one especially took a toll on him, having gone through six months of chemotherapy and a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove his gallbladder and most of his pancreas where he lost six units of blood.

His battles don't stop Dan Daugherty from doing what he loves though. He still rides his bike often, only now he makes sure to carry candy in his front shirt pocket to replenish the glucose he works out. His favorite? Jolly ranchers.

He was also named Holly Hill's Citizen of the Year in 2007 after he moved a local woman in need with his family for three months while he fixed up her home.

But still, sometimes, he gets discouraged from taking his medicine or undergoing more treatment. When that happens, Florence Daugherty reminds him he's buying himself more time with his family — especially with his three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  

Yet, Dan Daugherty is a bit skeptic.

“If the doctor knew that, he would tell you," he said. "I mean the doctors, they’re the best in the world, but they’re not God.”

“Well, you bring that in and the other angle is you have to have faith,” Florence Daugherty said.

The Daugherty's are members of the Ormond Beach Presbyterian Church. They have attended for years, even choosing to remain in the church despite living in DeLand now. It's where his daughters attend, both of whom he adopted when they were just babies. Their family has support and prayers coming in from all over the country, including a 94-year-old high school teacher of theirs that still call and check up on him. 

“We’ve never given up," Florence Daugherty said.