Cancer survivor conquers milestones during chemo

Shelby Danielsen reports. 9/9/2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—September is dedicated to its awareness Leukemia and Lymphoma awareness. Both are cancer of the blood cells. Both target young adults.

Daniel Ellis had to conquer Hodgkin's Lymphoma not long after his 21st birthday, and only hours after he bought a ring to propose to his girlfriend.

"We were just best friends and started liking each other in middle school then fell in love," says Gabby Willis, Ellis' now fiance. 

The two have known each other since they were 10 years old. So it was kind of a given where they were headed, or so they thought.

"Dec. 3 was when I bought the engagement ring, the following morning is when I had my doctor’s appointment," says Ellis.

For several months last year Daniel had been feeling tired and had a sharp pain in his chest at the lightest touch. That doctor's appointment was to finally get to the bottom of it all so he could move on with his plans -- a proposal at Christmas. 

He went in for what he thought was a simple x-ray and ended up having a cat-scan that evening followed by a phone call early the next morning

"They told me I had either Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Lymphoma or a tumor in my chest," says Ellis.

With a ring in his pocket and his college graduation just days away his world quickly began to shift and Christmas was about to be a little difference than he had planned

"December 23rd I had my first chemotherapy, the day before Christmas Eve."

At just 21 years old Daniel endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center, lasting five hours at a time.

"You quickly realize anything can happen and you’re not untouchable," says Willis. 

With that said, Ellis didn't slow down. Two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer he graduated.

One week after that he got down on one knee.

"It was funny because she saw two kayakers coming by and joked it would be funny if I got down on one knee real quick and I really had the ring in my pocket."

It was finally time for some happy tears. And now a new date. A wedding date in October. 

"She’s my first girlfriend I’m her first boyfriend," Ellis says smiling at Willis. 

He has five more years before he will be officially in remission, but he is considered in the clear for now. The two plan to get married on Oct. 22.


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