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An answered prayer

Tony Holt Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:19 PM

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A five-year cancer remission offered Daniel Witt the opportunity to make more memories, spend more time with his family and reinforce his hope.

But cancer's virulent resurgence 10 months ago rocked him. It robbed him of his confidence, physical strength and quality of life.

In spite of it all, Witt made sure his faith stayed intact.

"I was frustrated and confused," said the 33-year-old Witt, a 13-year veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "I know God had cured me of this illness before. I have complete trust and faith in Him this time around."

Witt is a married father of four. His oldest is 10 years old and his youngest is 10 months.

About 10 days ago, Witt's father, George, spoke with a pastor at his church. The same pastor got him in contact with Bill and Mike Honeycutt, owners of Jet I.C.U. — a Brooksville-based air ambulance company located in the Airport Industrial Park.

At noon Tuesday, Witt flew with his wife and father to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Witt recently was told he had about two months to live. Doctors at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa told him there was nothing else they could do.

Witt's tumor is in his stomach. It protrudes noticeably, especially taking into consideration Witt's physical stature. He's lost 70 pounds since his diagnosis in December 2011.

Witt's faith is strong, but so is his sense of realism. In the minutes leading up to his flight, he spoke with the expectation that doctors in Houston wouldn't have any better news compared to the doctors in Tampa.

"I can see that there might not be other options," he said. "I pray that's not the case. If they look in there and see they can do something for me that would be overwhelming."

Witt said the owners of Jet I.C.U., his fellow deputies and others with the Fraternal Order of Police stepped up for him — paying for his roundtrip airfare to Houston.

Robert Rey, of Jet Concepts, also handled some of the expenses.

Ten months ago, Witt realized something wasn't right. He had arrested a suspect who wasn't willing to go gently to jail. He led Witt on a chase and the arrest itself was physically taxing, his father said.

Afterward, Witt felt a sharp pain in his stomach. Thinking he had pulled an abdominal muscle during the chase, he shared a few laughs with his family about it.

By then, Witt and everyone else had thought he was "home free" from cancer, his father said.

Then doctors discovered the tumor in his stomach.

In September, after one of Witt's kidneys had failed, doctors at Moffitt told him they couldn't do anything for him.

Tuesday's flight to Houston was Witt's family's last chance to see whether a long-shot recovery was possible.

"We've been leaning on our faith a lot," said Witt's father. "This is our last hope … to see if there's a treatment for him."

Witt said the law enforcement "brotherhood" is something he cherishes every day. Without it, he wouldn't have had the support, prayers, contributions and assistance he's been getting during the past 10 months.

He thanked them for his jet ride to Houston.

"I call it an answered prayer," Witt said. (352) 544-5283

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