Wounded Warrior Team Navy Trials- Dacanay
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Michael Dacanay
It started in a recruiting station in Seattle.
A 32-year-old man from the Philippines walked in. All he wanted was to provide for his new and growing family, but the economic hardships of his home country made that impossible. He spoke to the recruiters and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an undesignated Sailor.
His career started at Whidbey Island, Wash.
The undesignated Sailor served at his first command, Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-134. While working toward obtaining a rate, he discovered an interest in cooking, and became a culinary specialist.
And then, a medical office.
The culinary specialist had continual problems with his right shoulder - his arm kept popping out. He underwent surgery and five pins were placed in his shoulder to fix the issue. Unfortunately, at the same time, he was experiencing abdominal pain and informed the medical personnel. They gave him painkillers and sent him on his way.
He kept returning. They kept giving him painkillers. He eventually found a new doctor, who presented scans that showed his tumor - a rare carcinoma of the liver. He underwent three months of surgery before he was declared "cancer-free."
But once again, a medical office.
Just as the pain returned to him, and just as the cancer had returned to his body.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Michael Dacanay is 43 now. While other Sailors his age may be getting ready to retire, he may never get that chance. His cancer treatments render him unable to retain active-duty status, yet he has found a community of support and new goals to keep him motivated.
He is a competitor in the 2014 Wounded Warrior Team Navy trials at Naval Station Norfolk. Despite his shoulder problems, he competes in archery, pistol and rifle shooting. Despite his cancer, he competes in cycling.
"It's a nice community. I'm learning from each and every one," said Dacanay. "We are all like a family here. If someone knows something, they share it. I listen. I absorb it."
More than 60 seriously wounded, ill or injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen will compete for a place on Team Navy 2014, but for Dacanay, it isn't about the competition.
"I've been learning how to cope with different challenging situations," said Dacanay. "The competition really helps a lot."
During the archery trials, Dacanay joked that he couldn't even hit the target. By the final round, his arrows were nearly dead center.
The vast support from his coaches, sponsors, fellow competitors and family helped Dacanay overcome the difficulties of competing in events he has never participated in before.
"My family has been very supportive," said Dacanay, who has a wife and two sons, ages 7 and 14. "They know about my condition, and they have helped me along."
Wounded Warrior is not a cure. It won't make his cancer go away, and it won't soothe the stiffness in his arm, but it brought Dacanay new interests and new energy.
Dacanay said he plans to incorporate some of the Wounded Warrior programs into his personal life by continuing the activities he has competed in.
It doesn't matter when or where it started, but life has given Decanay a renewed perspective, and he's not going to waste that start.