top of page

Dan Griffin: He's a 1der

Back in January 2020, after months of scans and consultations I learned I had Stage 4 lung cancer. I would far rather have been told I had won a three-week retreat to a landfill site with nothing to eat but maggot-infested roadkill and Fox News for company, but that wasn't to be. I had an incurable cancer in my l

ung. And I was dying. Still, things could have been worse.

Within a few weeks I was dozing-off on an operating table and waking sometime later missing a large chunk of lung. Fortunately, these are the days of quality anesthetic; so no half-bottle of whisky or having to chomp down on a stick. My recovery was fairly straightforward, but I will never forget my first post-op sneeze. It was an explosion of pain on a par with reading a book by Don Jnr, but I’ll leave that as an assumption as I think I’ve been through enough.

It wasn’t too long after my op that the pandemic swept the planet and everyone suddenly became an epidemiologist. The weather in my neck of the woods was particularly pleasant, so rather than lock myself away in my dingy little flat and stare at the walls all day, terrified at the possibility the virus may find its way in by surfing the back of a sheet of junk mail trying to sell me a pizza, I took off on daily motorcycle rides to explore the countryside and find rivers to sit next to, drink flasks of tea and contemplate how I would spend the rapidly dwindling remainder of this finite time called Life.

Prior to learning of all this ‘impending death’ lunacy I had been trying to develop an electric vehicle show in my home city of Bath. That was pretty much kyboshed by my diagnosis and having half a lung lopped-out. Oh, and a worldwide pandemic didn’t help much, either. Since everyone was shut-down, there was nothing particularly exciting for me to do on the project, and so I began to re-evaluate my life. I thought of the importance of friends and family, and of enjoying each day as a gift of something new and special. I decided to return to painting; something I had almost forgotten about in the years of being busy and hopping between financial minefields. I quickly realized this was a passion and a vocation that would remain a key focus for the rest of my days.

As is often the case when one finally sees Death himself standing in the corner of the room sharpening his scythe and making tut-tut sounds as he looks at his watch and then shakes his head, one’s Bucket List swiftly gains increased prominence. It’s a bit like an old shelving unit with cupboards and a glass display case in which the light has just begun to burn a bit more brightly. You need to fill it with things, because you can look at it in your final moments; in place of regrets.

I decided to throw myself from a plane, and find out which of my ‘friends’ wanted to pay me to do it. Swings and roundabouts; they all did, but we raised a lot of money for Macmillan, which gave me so much joy as I could show my appreciation for all their support since my diagnosis. And I got to experience the abject terror of tumbling from a perfectly sound aircraft at 15,000 feet together with the ripsnorting exhilaration of a minute of free-fall, and the sense of achievement at the end when I could hold up a piece of paper and know that ‘I did that.’

I became an artist proper when I opened my first show in August of this year, and that was another item ticked-off the list. There are many more on it, including one to see the source of a key artistic inspiration: a volcano. But right now I am not allowed to go but it is for a good reason: it’s because I am fortunate to be on a new drug trial at the Royal Marsden in London, and fingers-crossed it will keep me alive for a little longer yet.

I would love for you to visit my website ( where you can learn more about my Oncological Odyssey and my hopes to stage another exhibition in 2022.

213 views0 comments


bottom of page